Creed II

Since his spectacular fight which ended in a loss at the conclusion of “Creed”, Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has won his next six bouts and then pulls off an impressive victory to become the new Heavyweight Champion.

Life is good for the new champion as he believes he has moved out of the shadow of his legendary father and is ready to settle down with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and move ahead with life.

At the same time, former Russian Champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is training his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) in Kiev to become and even more devastating boxer than he was. Ivan has suffered much since losing to Rocky in “Rocky IV” as his wife has left him and he has been shunned and cast out of the country which once lauded him as their prize athlete. Losing to Rocky in Moscow in front of numerous dignitaries has ruined him and made his life a shell of what he was leaving him and his son cold, bitter, and driven.

When the opportunity for Viktor and Adonis to box is presented, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) advises Adonis not to take the match. Rocky recounts that not only did Ivan kill his father in the ring, but in beating him, Rocky suffered injuries which ended his boxing career and have never fully healed.

Despite the warnings, Adonis takes the match and is unprepared for the raw brutality that Viktor presents and sufferers a horrific beating but manages to hold his title due to a technicality.

The film then follows a standard redemption story of Adonis trying to recover, face his fears, train, and find a new level of strength that he has never shown before. The climatic fight is very entertaining and well-staged and had fans at our screening reacting with cheers and dismay as the punches landed.

The film does follow some very familiar territory for the series from the emotional highs and lows of the ring, battling yourself as well as an opponent, the grueling training session, and of course the big match at the end.

Stallone gives another moving and solid performance as the aging Rocky showing that his Academy Award nominated turn in the prior film was not a fluke. What was also impressive was how Dolph Lundgren returned to a role he initially had reservations about doing and gave Drago a sympathetic side even though he is a bad guy in the film. We see a man desperate to recover what he was and who is devastated by what life has dealt him but forces himself to examine the past as he guides his son’s future.

Jordan carries a lot of swagger with his character and while the story attempts to show a softer side of his character; he is not as sympathetic as he was in the past film. I noted that Rocky was much easier to get behind as he was a more sympathetic underdog at times. That is part of what makes the series so interesting in that Rocky is still there as a presence over Adonis to guide and inform him to try to make him a true champion while allowing him to have his own identity and style.

If you are a fan of the series, then you should enjoy this next offering as long as you do not mind the formula for much of the series repeated.

4 stars out of 5