Creed II (2018)
“Creed II” stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad, Andre Ward, Wood Harris, and Brigitte Nielsen. Released on November 21, 2018, the film has Adonis Creed fighting the son of Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer who’s responsible for killing his father.
The film is directed by Steven Caple Jr., who is known for directing the 2016 drama, “The Land”. It is a sequel to the 2015 film, “Creed”, and it is the eighth installment in the “Rocky” film series. Before I begin this review, I would like to take a couple of minutes to say I hope that everyone had a wonderful time spending Thanksgiving with their friends and loved ones…and had enough food in their bellies to last a couple of days. Now that that’s taken care of, let’s talk about another highly-anticipated sequel that just came out. 1985 saw the release of the fourth “Rocky” film, which featured the title character winning a match against a steroid-induced Soviet boxer known as Ivan Drago, who killed his closest friend and former Heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed. 33 years later, Drago is back to reclaim his honor through his son, but the only obstacle that stands between him and his goal is Apollo Creed’s son. For those who grew up watching the “Rocky” films, this latest installment in the long-running series is a pretty big deal because of how it ties into “Rocky IV” in terms of the plot. So, I guess you can say that it’s as close to being a “Rocky IV” reunion as it can get. I was looking forward to this film for quite some time because I really enjoyed the first “Creed” film for its cast and its story. Plus, I couldn’t skip out on two of my favorite actors, Jordan and Stallone. Now that I finally got a chance to see it, was it able to punch its way to victory?
One of the things you should know about the film is that Ryan Coogler, the writer/director of “Creed”, did not return to direct the sequel due to him working on “Black Panther”. He did serve as one of the executive producers for “Creed II”, so it wasn’t a total loss. Instead, the directing reigns go to Steven Caple Jr. This is the first film I’ve seen from the young filmmaker, and based on what I saw, I thought he did a great job at maintaining the heart and soul that its predecessor was known for. This is another sequel that focuses on both character development and storytelling, even though the latter tends to deliver some familiar elements that we’ve seen before in other sports films. I can understand the fact that it didn’t offer anything new to the formula, but it never lost sight of the emotion that got me into these films in the first place. Everything about this film is not only riveting, but also meaningful. The main cast once again delivered some amazing performances, most notably Jordan and Stallone as Creed and Rocky, respectively. What more can I say about them? They’re extremely talented and the chemistry between them is nothing but pure magic. Michael B. Jordan has been one of my favorite actors working in Hollywood today, and his performance in this film is one of the reasons why my statement still stands. Dolph Lundgren also reprises his role as Ivan Drago, the former Russian boxer from “Rocky IV”, and wow. He did not disappoint. This is probably his best performance I’ve seen from Lundgren since, well, his performance in “Rocky IV”. What also impressed me is that the film showcased Drago as a human being instead of portraying him as a cliched revenge-seeking character. The boxing sequences were also nicely portrayed due to the film’s cinematography and the hard-hitting choreography, especially the Creed vs Drago matches. I’m not sure if I could compare them to the sequences from “Creed” since I haven't watched that in a while, so all I could say is that they’re exciting to watch.
Overall, despite its familiar tropes, “Creed II” packs a punch. Thanks to its talented cast, Steven Caple Jr.’s respectable direction, and its character-driven narrative, this is another well-deserved sequel that shouldn’t go unnoticed. It’ll be interesting to see if they’re going to continue this series the same way they did for “Rocky”. I guess time will tell. If you’re a fan of the “Rocky” series and enjoyed the first “Creed” film, this one won’t disappoint you.
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