While some may think of its plot as too familiar, I found “Creed II” to be a gratifying exhibition of boxing and drama all at once. Recycling old elements of the previous “Rocky” films allowed Michael B. Jordan’s title character to mature for the better, both in and out of the ring. By working with the right cast, discussions on family and fighting sequences for the story, “Creed II” was an enjoyable and exhilarating watch.
After fighting and losing gracefully to “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, Adonis Creed, played by Jordan, is now up against Viktor Drago played by Florian Munteanu. Viktor happens to be the son of Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren in “Rocky IV,” the infamous Soviet boxer who killed Apollo Creed in 1985. Adonis’s trainer Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, secondary trainer Tony “Little Duke” Evers played by Wood Harris and girlfriend Bianca Taylor played by Tessa Thompson assist Creed in realizing what he is truly fighting for and see if he has the eye of the tiger to defeat Viktor and avenge his father.
Viktor was a solid addition to the cast for the sequel. His brutal determination to defeat Adonis increased the character’s maturity. Adonis’ maturity increased by his learning how to rise up after being punched in the ribs and nearly losing his vision during their first fight.
As for the return Drago, I felt sorry that he lost all his glory after losing to Rocky, and I do not completely endorse his personality. I am sorry that he does not have a peaceful relationship with his son, and his vendettas against Creed and Balboa are the only things he has left to gain.
Similar to Rocky and his widow Adrian, Adonis understands the importance of family with both Bianca and Rocky. Balboa is there to remind him not to fight Viktor in vain because he does not want him to die falling victim to a publicity stunt.
Bianca has her own battles with progressive hearing loss and raising their newborn daughter, which persuades Adonis to fight for his family so they have something to be proud of, no matter the difficulty.
I loved how Adonis trained in the desert scene for the second fight in Russia. Going through old-school methods, from hitting the sandy ground to running with a car in the hot sun, showed he had heart where Viktor showed only anger and fury. I loved how, in that moment, Adonis brought back the eye of the tiger that both his father and mentor once had.
Even though he is trying to forge his own legacy, Adonis is very much like his father. He has the same relentless spirit in the ring that Apollo did, and by inputting Thompson’s “Midnight” song in the Russia fight scene, he proved to have his father’s exuberant showmanship before a match as well.
Finally, it may be concluded that “Creed II” was formulaic and gratifying to watch. Returning old plot ideas from “Rocky IV” helped capture Adonis’ ambitions to be the best boxer and to prove he is more than just Apollo Creed’s son.
For those who have seen the previous “Rocky” films and wish to see more, watch Jordan and Stallone in “Creed II.”