How time flies. Before one knows it, CREED II, the sequel to 2015 CREED is now the 8th instalment of the ROCKIE franchise. All of the films feature Sylvester Stallone who also co-wrote CREED II. CREED II is not as good as CREED I primarily because ideas are running out – after all it is the 8th film.
The film follows Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) training in order to defeat the son of Ivan Drago, the powerful athlete who killed his father in the ring more than 33 years prior.
It was in 1985 that the Soviet boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) killed former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed during an exhibition fight in Las Vegas. That same year, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) defeated Ivan Drago in a boxing match on Christmas Day in the Soviet Union. Thirty-three years later, Apollo Creed’s son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), with Rocky’s training and guidance, seeks to avenge his father’s death by fighting Drago’s son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) while at the same time, Ivan hopes to reclaim his honour through Viktor. Stallone plays again Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Sr., the two-time world heavyweight champion and Apollo’s rival-turned-friend who becomes Adonis’ trainer and mentor. He still owns and operates his Italian restaurant in Philadelphia.
The script surprisingly is sympathetic towards the villain Viktor and his over-unforgiving father Ivan. During a few points in the film, one actually wishes Viktor would win the fight. Adonis is comes across (unintentionally) as a spoilt celebrity. Viktor is shown in the script to be a victim of family circumstances that he cannot escape from. A similar situation was tapped in Steve McQueen’s WIDOWS where the Colin Farrell character is tied in to his family’s reputation. Both wish to be out. This is the only positive difference in the ROCKY films. On the negative, Stallone ups the melodrama several notches. Adonis’s girlfriend Bianca Thompson (Tessa Thompson) is suffering from hearing loss. Rocky Balboa has not seen his son and granddaughter for years and finally gets to reconcile (sob-sob!) at the end of the film. Rocky visits his late wife Adrian’s grave and speaks to her. Adonis visits his late father’s grave and talks to him too. It is this melodrama that kills the movie.
A neat touch is the appearance at the final fight of Viktor’s mother (played with icy coolness by Brigitte Nielsen) who had deserted the family.
It is clear that Viktor is the bigger and better fighter, so it is a hard task to make Adonis a credible foe that can beat Viktor. The script devotes the usually hard training sessions (devised by Rocky that Adonis undergoes – like pulling trucks, turning tires and running in the ht desert).
The climax of the film is understandably the heavyweight championship bout between Adonis and Viktor, executed with all its expected gore and brutal violence. The fight begins during the last 15 minutes of the movie.
All that can be done with CREED II is to use the recycled formula of what worked in the past. The result is a lacklustre over melodramatic film with a few good fighting sequences.