The 8th film in the Rocky series, Creed II, stands as a tribute to the classic Rocky films, while also managing to tell its own excellent story.
Following on from the previous film, protagonist Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) continues his journey as a heavyweight boxing contender under the guidance of former world champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Controversy hits as Adonis is challenged by Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) who killed Adonis’ father, Apollo Creed, in the ring over 30 years prior (events of Rocky IV). While Adonis is rattled by the Dragos’ challenge, Rocky is troubled by the memories of watching his friend (Apollo) die in his arms. The guilt of having not stopped that fight all those years ago surfaces, as he can’t help but feel like history is repeating itself. Both storylines are superbly told, as it feels like both Creed’s own story and a continuation of Rocky’s.
The villains Ivan and Viktor Drago are well portrayed as both victims of their society and also determined and hardened brutes that will do anything to win. The way they work as father and son, while also being boxer and trainer is fascinating yet scary. I’m not the biggest fan of boxing (neither is my mum who I went to see this with) but we both came out appreciating a superb film that, yes, is a satisfying boxing film, but also an amazing drama. Adonis and Rocky don’t just face off against the foes they seem fate-bound to, but must face challenges in their personal lives. Adonis and Bianca (Tessa Thompson)’s relationship rapidly moves forward, while Rocky must mend his relationship with his son. On the other side of the ring, Ivan and Viktor Drago’s dysfunctional father-son dynamic is laid bare as they remain loyal to each other, despite the fickle love of the Russian high-society. The cast all put in great performances, but the stand out is veteran and franchise legend Sylvester Stallone, who shows just how good of an actor (and writer) he really is.
The film surpasses its predecessor Creed, and is both an excellent story of a man striving to make his own legacy while serving as a tribute to the originals. For me, the best moment of the film is when both those aspects meet as the iconic Rocky theme plays over Adonis’ epic final confrontation with Viktor Drago. It really does send shivers down your spine.