Movie Review: Creed II

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Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) steps up to fight the tough heavyweight champion of the world in Creed II. (Source: Washington Post)

In 2015, the beloved Rocky franchise was brought back into light. It introduced new characters, as well as some others from the previous entries. Ryan Coogler, director of Fruitvale Station, did a marvelous job continuing the story of Rocky Balboa. This time, the heavyweight champion of the world reluctantly agrees to train the son of his biggest rival, Apollo Creed. Featuring wonderful performances by Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (who lost Best Supporting Actor to Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies), Creed is a powerful drama about the importance of fighting for your legacy. Adonis and Rocky come back to fight a bigger enemy in Creed II, the sequel that definitely had to happen!

Three years after the events of Creed, Adonis (Jordan) is unsure about moving to Los Angeles with his singer-songwriter girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson). He doesn’t know what his future will hold if he left Philadelphia. Meanwhile, in Kiev, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) trains his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) to reclaim his family honor after being defeated by Rocky (Stallone, who also co-wrote the screenplay) in 1985. After accepting the offer, Adonis begins to train again for the fight of his life inside–and outside–the ring.

With the popularity of Rocky, boxing and wrestling–in the movies–has become a metaphor for life. Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, Southpaw among others showcase it beautifully into film. However, they hardly stand a chance on what makes the Rocky movies (especially Creed) so special. With Steven Caple Jr. taking Coogler’s place as director for the sequel, he does pack plenty of gritty punches to balance the effective human drama.

As Adonis and Rocky, Jordan and Stallone continue to have fabulous chemistry with enough wit and gratitude. Rocky is like a second father to Adonis, who never had a father in his life. Although their life might be in the way, they will always have each other’s back. As Drago convinces his son to be the toughest heavyweight boxer in the world (“Break him,” he says to Viktor during his first brutal showdown against Adonis), Rocky trains Adonis like he never had before in the California desert. Once the boxers fight in the ring, things get nasty.

Despite the forgettable soundtrack and the pace dragging a little, Creed II is a worthy yet predictable sequel making me excited for future installments.

3.5/4

Movie Review: Creed

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Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) trains Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) in “Creed”

Ten years after Rocky Balboa, Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler brings the franchise back in the ring. Sylvester Stallone returns as our beloved protagonist Rocky Balboa. He has officially retired from boxing, his wife Adrian and still owns Adrian’s Restaurant. As he is about to close, he meets Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) looking at a photo of Rocky fighting against his former rival Apollo Creed. Learning that Donnie is following his father Apollo’s footsteps, he reluctantly agrees to train him prior to his fight against the light heavyweight champion of the world, Ricky Conlon (Tony Bellew) of Liverpool.

Even though I have only seen Rocky, Rocky II, and Rocky Balboa, these movies are more than just about boxing, they are about life. Coogler perfectly blends old-fashioned drama with great boxing scenes (the first one consists one 5-minute long take) and the fantastic chemistry between Jordan and Stallone. Creed ranks up with the first Rocky movie.

4/4