Fresh from the box office smash that is Black Panther, Michael B Jordan reprises his role as Apollo Creed’s dynamic heavyweight son Adonis in a sequel that links directly back to the Rocky saga.
Creed II sees Adonis take on Viktor Drago, the son of ruthless Russian boxer Ivan Drago, who killed his father in the ring in Rocky IV. They end up fighting not once, but twice .
Thus, this latest chapter packs plenty of emotional punch as it explores the conflicts that arise as Adonis seeks to avenge his father and fallen hero.
The Rocky series is undoubtedly the most iconic and popular boxing film franchise. However, despite their status, the films are known to be fraught with over-dramatised action and super hero comebacks that don’t accurately represent the reality of the noble art.
However With Tyson Fury’s recent Lazarus-like rise from the canvas against Deontay Wilder, maybe those Hollywood blockbusters aren’t necessarily so over-cooked.
As directed by Steven Caple Jr, entrusted with his first big-budget movie at the tender age of 30, the fight scenes in Creed II certainly feel more realistic and less corny than those in the Rocky series, making it a more grounded affair.
‘Creed II shows just how hard it is combine the brutality of training and fighting with a loving family life’
Jordan excels as Adonis, imbuing him with so much passion and conviction that you actually feel he really is a boxer whose dad has died, albeit many years before.
Although the first Creed movie featured British boxer Tony Bellew as its villain, returning to the Rocky series for inspiration ultimately proved too tempting for the producers, including original star Sylvester Stallone, who returns once again as Rocky Balboa, now Creed’s trainer.
So, Dolph Lundgren is back as Drago Snr, joined by Brigette Nielsen as his (now) ex-wife. The Romanian-born, German-raised boxer Florian Munteanu plays their mountainous son.
There are also plenty of emotional father-son issues swirling around Ivan and Viktor, with the former looking to his offspring to redeem his reputation, destroyed by his loss in Rocky IV.
The Rocky series is known for its sweaty training montages and inspiring moments where one line from the trainer inspires a huge knockout, but Creed II runs deeper then that.
Yes, the training scenes are still there to show that boxing is a tough and gruelling sport, but the film also touches on the mental well-being of boxers.
‘Ultimately, Creed II highlights both the risks of boxing itself but also the dangers of a damaged ego’
Again, Tyson Fury is the man who most recently shone a spotlight on how fighters struggle with mental health issues, including depression and addiction.
Creed II shows just how hard it is combine the brutality of training and fighting with a loving family life as Adonis’s partner Bianca (Tessa Thompson) is pregnant with their first child.
With a lot on his mind, Adonis rushes into the first fight with Viktor and wins – but only through disqualification. Badly beaten in the process, his ego and spirit are completely destroyed.
Thus, Creed II accurately depicts just how hard it is for boxers to recover both mentally and physically from going to war in the ring. Furthermore, it touches on their vulnerability and how lonely it can be in at the top.
Its not all gloom and doom though, as the film shows how the love and support of family and friends are as just important as training hard.
So the stage is set for a second meeting – this time in Moscow – and Adonis is guided by Rocky to adopt a strategy to wear down his opponent, who normally wins by KO early on.
However, he suffers broken ribs in the later rounds and is knocked down, triggering a dramatic climax. This time, it’s Viktor’s turn to be emotionally distracted as his mother leaves rather than watch him lose, whilst his father eventually does the right thing by his son.
Ultimately, Creed II highlights both the risks of boxing itself but also the dangers of a damaged ego, as Viktor looks to fight on even though it could mean serious injury.
The poignant parallels between him and Apollo Creed are made clear as Ivan acts to save his son from the fate that befell Adonis’s father.
He realises that his love for Viktor counts for more than pushing him to win in the ring; the message is you can be winner by learning what is really important, even in defeat.