Jungle
Creed II

Creed II

Movie
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Nov 21, 2018
Grade:
B-
Running Time: 
130 minutes

I am not the biggest Rocky fan so I will admit that I wasn’t expecting much when Creed first came out. To my delight, the film was better than anything I could have hope for with its powerful story and brilliant performances, and visionary director Ryan Coogler making his presence known both in and out of the ring. It was one of my favorite movies of 2015, so when Creed II was first announced I couldn’t help but be excited for it. Unfortunately Coogler is only serving as an executive producer on the film, with Steven Caple, Jr. stepping in as director. With a clear uphill battle in front of him, Caple does a solid job at delivering a sequel that can go the distance but falls short of delivering that knockout punch.

 

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is now one of the biggest names in boxing following his win of the heavyweight title, but all of that is thrown into jeopardy when Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), comes out of the shadows and issues a challenge of his own. Adonis can’t help but jump at the opportunity to fight the son of the man who killed his father, Apollo Creed, despite being outmatched by this monster of a fighter. Adonis must keep his emotions in check to even stand a chance at beating Viktor, otherwise he might just suffer the same unfortunate fate as his father.

 

Creed II is a sequel in every sense of the word as it continually hammers in references to Rocky IV and the clash between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago, going so far as to show entire clips from the film as if they’re part of some documentary archive. Creed succeeded because it put Adonis and his story first and foremost, but Creed II feels like it’s more about Rocky than anyone else. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is still haunted by the fact that he didn’t throw in the towel during the fight that ultimately caused Apollo’s death,and he doesn’t want to see the same thing happen to Adonis. There’s a lot of back and forth with Rocky’s internal struggle, which takes away from time that could have spent developing both the Creed and Drago lineages.

 

By far the best element of Creed II is its depiction of both Ivan and Viktor Drago. Following his loss to Rocky in 1985, Ivan was essentially shunned by all of Russia, including his own wife. Viktor is Ivan’s path to redemption, and he will do whatever it takes to win over the approval of his country. The Drago’s arc in the film is fantastic, but I still would have liked to see more of the focus been on them rather than Rocky. Ivan and Vikor are the most interesting aspects of Creed II so why not embrace that?

 

Creed II also succeeds in the ring, delivering intense and brutal boxing sequences that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. The difference in size between Michael B. Jordan and Florian Munteanu is of David vs. Goliath proportions and reinforces the underdog theme that has flowed through the entire Rocky franchise. Everyone is in the absolute best shape of their lives for these roles, and it definitely shows, both in their physique and their performances. From the music to the montages, you can’t help but get pumped up for the confrontation between two fighters in their prime.

 

Ultimately, Creed II delivers a solid one-two punch that will leave you entertained. The boxing is fantastic, and Drago finally gets his due, but it relies heavily on the fan service of the original Rocky franchise rather than building its own empire in with the Creed surname. As far as sequels go, it’s fine. Just don’t expect the knockout that was the its predecessor.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook