There was nine years between ‘Rocky 6’ (Rocky Balboa) and ‘Creed’ and frankly the thought of seeing a 69 year old Stallone putting on boxing gloves and getting licked in the ring was not going to be an edifying sight (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed). We were wrong as it was a great little film with Stallone earning himself a third Oscar nomination. Creed 2 (aka Rocky 8) therefore was inevitable and this time Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan) now champion of the world is cruising with his fights against unworthy contenders for the title but he’s soon to meet his nemesis.
Stallone, who co writes with newcomer Juel Taylor, has this time bought back another famous face from a previous film. This time it’s Viktor Drago who, like Adonis, is the son of another boxer Ivan Darago (Dolph Lundgren)who killed Apollo Creed in a brutal boxing bout in Rocky 4. Ivan is training his son Viktor as some sort of wish fulfillment via his son to win the world heavyweight championship that he feels he was deprived of when he fought Rocky 30 years ago. Adonis is only too aware of who the Drago’s are and is only too keen to avenge the death of his father. Rocky is not so sure still feeling guilty for not throwing in the towel before his friend Apollo died in the ring and wants no part of the fight which is being hyped by a promoter with his eyes on the prize.
Creed 2 focuses as much on both Adonis private life with his deaf singer songwriter girlfriend – something of an anomaly though tone deafness seems to be a pre-requisite for X-Factor contestants these days. But Adonis is also about to become a first time father whilst Stallone, estranged from his own son and grandson, battles with his conscience as to how he allowed this to ever happen.
Creed 2 very much follows the similar story template of Rocky 4 and there’s going to be fists of fury in the final climatic scene as Creed takes on Drago. Now we’d be the first to admit that the only workout we have is squeezing toothpaste out of the tube but as toned as Michael B Jordan is he is notably smaller than Florian Munteanu who plays Viktor Drago as a man mountain and the pair of them look in different fighting weights (in fairness it was the same with Stallone v Lundgren in Rocky 4) but that all adds to the excitement of the final fight which director Steven Caple Jr shoots bringing out all the excitement of the match. Whilst never on a level with Raging Bull, the final fight is nonetheless rousingly shot and the audience we saw it with were cheering and almost on their feet and it’s all helped by Bill Conti’s emotionally charged song ‘Gonna Fly Now’ from the first film riffing on the soundtrack.
With so many boxing films released since 1976’s Rocky its increasingly difficult to avoid the cliches and the training montage rears its head so it’s difficult to take seriously after the South Park boys so mercilessly ridiculed ‘the montage’ in ‘Team America : World Police’. It’s equally difficult to keep a straight face with some of the platitudes that trip off Stallone’s tongue only to fall flat on their face.
Whilst not as good as the first film Creed 2 is still solid popcorn entertainment and should ensure that Creed 3 will follow. Personally we want to see Mr T from Rocky 3 return draped in a ton of gold chains like a pensioned off rapper trying to stand up and see just how well he takes a fist in the ring (‘You’re definitely fired!’ – Ed).
Here’s the Creed 2 trailer……