Rocky II (1979)
The problem with the first sequel in the Rocky series isn't mainly that it's the original's identical twin, going to desperate lengths in order to be able to bring Rocky down from the height he reached at the end of Rocky and down to his original down-and-out level – just to be able to make him the underdog and rehash the ascent all over again. In fact, we might have accepted all that, if it hadn't been for the lack of skill with which it is all executed. This, Stallone's second outing in the director's chair, shows his inaptitude all too well. The film is bumpy, childish and corny. The acting has all the weaknesses the original largely concealed – mainly because of a lesser script and dialogue. An important character like Apollo Creed is a complete spoof in Rocky II. And Rocky Balboa, while still a charming and naïve man, hasn't got the vitality and importance that made him special three years prior.
That is not to say that Rocky II hasn't got anything to offer. For all its silliness, the film isn't directly exploitive. It has a message, even if it's a sophomoric one. And it has the feel-goodness that characterized Rocky, even if it is somewhat restricted by this film's inferior quality. Even the fighting is notably less realistic and dynamic than in most other entries in the series. That sound editing was never going to win anyone an Oscar, that's for sure.