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‘Creed II’ review: A solid punch to ‘Rocky’ fans

Creed II maintains the same energy of the first film while pulling the best aspects of the original franchise.

Creed II picks up a few years after the first film, as Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is on the verge of both becoming the new world heavyweight boxing champion and taking the next step with his longtime singer-songwriter girlfriend, Bianca Porter (Tessa Thompson). However, just as everything seems to be going Adonis’ way, he is challenged to a fight by Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu)—the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the Russian beast who killed his father in the ring during a boxing exhibition match leading up to Ivan’s marquee showdown with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family.

The film particularly talks about how Adonis Creed balances his life: his personal obligations and his challenges in training for his next big fight. He goes back to basics to rediscover what made him a champion in the first place and remember what matters most in life as a boxer. It digs deeper into the character’s insecurities—who he truly is and where he’s going. It is an effective boxing drama that brings about a meaningful sequel as it pushes to greater depth the Rocky film series.

The biggest surprise in Creed II is how it brings back an original character Ivan Drago, who is a cartoonish Russian villain in Rocky IV. The film transforms him into a genuinely tragic figure whose shattered ego and broken spirit have poisoned his relationship with his son, Viktor. Viktor, on the other hand, certainly benefits from the physicality that real-life fighter Munteanu brings to the role, yet he’s also far more emotionally wounded than his intimidating stature. Their storyline is more engaging and stirring, which makes this film more interesting. Creed II really puts on the theme about generational trauma and the long shadows that fathers cast on their sons’ lives.

Creed II is a solid and enjoyable movie with fun fights and emotional moments. The boxing scenes are surprisingly entertaining, although there’s a lot difference in the visual order as shot in the first film. Even so, the film has much to offer for fans to feast on. There are unexpected cameos by actors from former Rocky films and there are moments that are worth cheering for—something fans can more than ask for in a sequel. All of the characters arcs are handled well despite the predictability of the story. The trainings of Adonis are amazingly shot with a heart. His relationship with his wife Bianca shows the motivations in his life as a boxer and as a husband. Even Ivan and Viktor Drago’s characters show that they are not just plain, bad guys, but they actually have a decent amount of dispositions in life.

Creed II is all about triumphs and setbacks, growth and redemption. It might as well be a nod to “Rocky IV” but this iteration is better as it takes on what matters most and what you are really fighting for—for Adonis, it is his family. With a great story that has emotionally-charged scenes, it’s surely a must-watch for Rocky fans.

Creed II opens November 28 in PH cinemas as distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.


5 out of 5 stars

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone, Dilph Lundgren, and Florian Munteanu. Runtime: 130 minutes

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