12 user 5 critic

Pumping Iron II: The Women (1985)

Judges and bodybuilders (Rachel McLish, Bev Francis, Carla Dunlap) try to define femininity at the 1983 world championship, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.


George Butler


George Butler (book), George Butler (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Bev Francis Bev Francis ... Self
Rachel McLish ... Self
Lori Bowen Rice Lori Bowen Rice ... Self (as Lori Bowen)
Carla Dunlap Carla Dunlap ... Self
Steve Michalik Steve Michalik ... Self
Steve Weinberger Steve Weinberger ... Self
Randy Rice Randy Rice ... Self
Kris Alexander Kris Alexander ... Self
Sherry Atton Sherry Atton ... Self
Lori Birdsong Lori Birdsong ... Self
Seliha Chamberlain Seliha Chamberlain ... Self
Lydia Cheng Lydia Cheng ... Self
Carolyn Cheshire Carolyn Cheshire ... Self
Shelly Gruwell Shelly Gruwell ... Self
Gladys Portugues ... Self
Learn more

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"Pumping Iron," the film that turned the obscure sport of male bodybuilding into an overnight phenomenon and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, broke the ground. Now, experience PUMPING IRON II: THE WOMEN, a film that is changing the way the world views the female physique-creating "a new definition of the female form." Join four women as they prepare for the 1983 Caesars Palace World Cup Championship: the sultry and curvaceous Rachel McLish, the current champion; the almost manly, super-muscular Bev Francis, Rachel's toughest competition; and newcomers Lori Bowen and Carla Dunlap. Four women who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of their conception of the "perfect" female form, spending grueling hours torturing themselves on Nautilus machines and browning themselves under tanning lamps. Learn their personal struggles and public triumphs that make up their unique world as they struggle both with their bodies' limitations and the world's limitations on what that body ought to ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Story of Strength, Desire, Courage... and a New Definition of Woman.


Documentary | Sport


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Did You Know?


Spoofed in Pumping Irene (1986) See more »


What Is Life
Performed by Black Uhuru
Written By Duckie Simpson (Derrick Simpson)
©(P) 1983 Island Records Inc.
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User Reviews

"What the Hell do They Want, Miss America?"
16 December 2003 | by Zen BonesSee all my reviews

This was the wail of one of the competitor's trainers, and he was defining the prime theme of this movie. For people who have a real problem looking at `masculine' women, the theme of this film will sure be `what a freak show'. When I first saw this movie eighteen years ago it took nearly an hour for me to pick my jaw off the ground due to how stunned I was to see women who looked like this. But I let myself get into the head of these women since as a movie lover, that's what I love doing most: trying to walk inside the souls of the people onscreen. I did say souls. It IS difficult to relate to the bodies depicted in this film, but that's not what the film is asking us to do.

There's no doubt that the way these women look is not conventional. Unfortunately, there will always be people who believe that `unconventional' is bad because that makes us uncomfortable. It's very obvious though that when people start calling those who are different `freaks', it's because they're feeling a deep need to cover their discomfort with a feeling of superiority. That's why I love movies about people who are different. Whether it's `The Elephant Man' or `Paris is Burning' or `Live Nude Girls Unite', the ultimate focus is on US. These films challenge us examine how we feel about ‘odd' people and to ask ourselves why the hell we're so uncomfortable anyway. There's always a choice: one can revel in disgust, or one can get over it and try to embrace a concept that is new.

Well, since this film's release, the city I live in now has almost as many gyms as restaurants, and there are hundreds of women who look like most of the bodybuilders in this film. I've gotten over the ‘weirdness' of how they look and except them as women who like the empowerment they feel from turning their bodies into sculptures. From what I understand, the masculine looking bodybuilder Bev, is now pretty much the standard for female bodybuilding competition. And who's to say she shouldn't be? If the qualifications for male bodybuilding are for each competitor to achieve the utmost of his muscular form and potential, why do women have to lower their standard? The men aren't judged by their sexiness (unless the male judges who judge them are all gay, which I doubt). I personally find them quite unattractive, but they are not supposed to be the male's version of Miss America. They are there to present the human physique in its most extreme `glory'. One can quibble about what the criteria for glory is, but once it was established, it's shameful that a double standard existed for women. At least at the time this film was made, women were still supposed retain the standard that they always have first and foremost been judged for: their sex appeal.

But enough of philosophizing. This movie is a fun documentary, showing both the camaraderie and bitching that goes on between some contestants, and giving us an understanding of how each of them define themselves. It's also a lot of fun when the film shows the confusion of the judges, whether they're trying to agree on the hypocrisy they plan on using, or trying to tally up the score (very funny scene, that!). It's a perfect analogy of the old school white male mentality that at least in this field, has thankfully faded away over the past eighteen years. With things more fair and equal now, I'd be very interested in seeing a `Pumping Iron Part 3'.

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Release Date:

3 May 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kulturystki See more »


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1.85 : 1
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