Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.
When ‘Creed’ was released just under 3 years ago it marked a refreshing return to form for the ‘Rocky’ series after the disappointment of ‘Rocky V’ and the good, but very different ‘Rocky Balboa’, and ‘Creed II’ continues that winning streak in this rousing sequel. As we begin this film, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is about to bounce back from his defeat at the end of the last movie to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, emulating the achievements of his father and his trainer and closest confidante. Outside of the ring, his life with Bianca (Tessa Thompson) is moving forward and he’s generally in a good place, when a spectre from the past returns to throw a spanner in the works.
If the filmmakers were going to summon a character from the past it would come as no surprise to discover Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) is that man. Drago was a memorably ferocious opponent in ‘Rocky IV’, arguably the best ‘Rocky’ film, and he was of course responsible for the death of Creed’s father in that movie, and in ‘Creed II’ he’s back alongside his son (Florian Munteanu), who has been making waves with a similarly vicious fighting style to his father. This film to a large extent follows a similar formula to many sequels but what sets it apart is the way in which it skillfully weaves the history of this series and the weight certain events carry into the present-day storyline, and it adds more bite to the narrative than any generic opponent would have provided. Jordan is every bit as good as Creed as he was in the first film, whilst Stallone, in his 8th film as Rocky Balboa, continues to shine as he sinks back into a supporting role.
The fight sequences are really good, particularly the climactic battle, and the narrative journey to get us there had me engrossed throughout, largely down to how various filmmakers and actors have made me care about these characters. I think Stallone’s been as good as he’s ever been in this and the first ‘Creed’ and in Jordan, the film has a central star every bit as charismatic to carry the series forward, wherever that journey takes this saga to next.
Directed By: Steven Caple Jr.
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Wood Harris, Brigitte Nielsen, Milo Ventimiglia and Russell Hornsby