“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Creed 2 hitting theaters by 2018.” That’s the last line of my 2015 review of Creed, the solidly entertaining spin-off of the Rocky franchise starring Michael B. Jordan as up-and-coming boxer Adonis Creed (son of Apollo) and Sylvester Stallone as his mentor, Philly boxing legend Rocky Balboa. As predicted, here it is – Creed II. And while not as strong as its predecessor, Creed II is still very satisfying, especially if you’re a fan of Rocky IV, one of my favorite films of 1985!
As the film opens, life is going good for Adonis Creed. He’s worked his way up to heavyweight champion of the world; he’s getting engaged to his singer girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson); they’re expecting a baby; and father-figure/friend/trainer Rocky is pleased as punch.
And then – Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) comes a-callin’.
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Viktor’s father Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) is the guy who delivered a fatal blow to Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, setting off a chain of events that led to a championship grudge match between Ivan and Rocky – on Russian soil. Rocky won that one; Ivan was disgraced; and now, 30 years later, the Drago men are out for retribution and revenge. And they’re still bulky and strong as heck. Rocky doesn’t want to see Adonis suffer the same fate as Apollo, so he balks at joining him ringside. But you know how it goes, a fighter gotta fight. Ultimately, Adonis and Rocky must confront their shared legacy and make some difficult choices about family, sacrifice, and redemption.
It’s impossible to watch Creed II without drawing many, many, many parallels to Rocky IV, from the dialogue to the stare-downs to the multitude of montages and the stirring undertones of the Rocky theme song. Some may call that a retread. I call it a nostalgia trip. Creed II is, like most of the Rocky movies, a solid sports drama with heart – and that’s a genre I’m always game to watch.
Note: There are a couple of crowd-pleasing cameos in Creed II. And let’s just say – if the filmmakers can find a way to include Rocky’s adult son in Creed III, bring it on!
For lively discussion about Creed II, as well as the newest incarnation of Robin Hood, a documentary about child prodigy Chef Flynn, and more, tune in to this episode of the Cinema Clash podcast! (Listen below, or subscribe on iTunes).