Poor old Rocky is on his uppers, with brain damage and a cleaned-out bank account. He is forced to retire but decides to train a young protégé, Tommy Gunn (played by real-life boxer Tommy Morrison).
Stallone is no good doing grim and this sequel floundered so badly that in the end he “undid” it with Rocky Balboa (2006). Given that it would be impossible to surprise with such a prescriptive format, it’s a shame that the only real spark comes courtesy of Sly’s own offspring (Sage Stallone) as his screen son.
Despite John G Avildsen being back on board as director (he did the first Rocky, with Sylvester Stallone himself directing the intervening rounds), the emotional clout of the original has given way here to simple gestures and acting-by-numbers.
George Washington Duke
John G Avildsen