Starring Rachel McLish, Bev Francis, Carla Dunlap, Kris Alexander, Lori Bowen, Lydia Cheng, Steve Michalik, George Plimpton, Randy Rice, Clark Sanchez, Steve Weinberger
Directed by George Butler
Expectations: Moderate. This will be an interesting re-watch, as I saw this a bunch of times growing up.
Like the competitors it portrays, Pumping Iron II: The Women is a slimmer version of its male counterpart. It successfully replicates the struggle of the previous film, between one “good & honest” bodybuilder and one “villain” bodybuilder. In reality, I’m sure it was much less emotionally charged than it appears at times in the film, and because of the fictionalizing done in Pumping Iron I was constantly watching for similar instances in this film. Due to this, Pumping Iron II actually feels even more fabricated and questionable as a documentary, but that shouldn’t discredit it, just like the previous film.
The film focuses mostly on four of the competitors, but two are clearly the stars of the show. There’s Rachel McLish, at the time the most successful female bodybuilder and responsible for bringing a lot of attention to the sport for females. She has something of a more defined model look, which is to say that she maintains her feminine physique while achieving quality muscle tone. She was the crossover star of the sport, perfect for magazine covers to interest all who gaze her way.