Review by David S. Adams
“You have people who need you,” says Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to new heavyweight boxing champion Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan). “That’s why I can’t lose,” says Donnie. He’s a married man now, with infant daughter, Amara. The fight he can’t lose is a rematch with Russian heavyweight Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), whose boxer father, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), fought — and killed — Donnie’s father, Apollo Creed, decades previously. That’s the complex setup for “Creed II,” sequel to both “Creed” (2015) and “Rocky IV” (1985).
Can Rocky’s intense training regimen prepare Donnie for long-shot success in the ring? Is “Creed II” a boxing movie with plenty of heart? For answers, see “Creed II.”
Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad return for “Creed II.” Jordan plays smart prize-fighter, Adonis Creed, on a winning streak, all the way to heavyweight champion. Soon, but not before asking Stallone’s avuncular Rocky Balboa for advice — not about boxing, but proposing — Donnie and Tessa Thompson’s Bianca marry. “Why she agreed to marry you, I don’t know,” says Phylicia Rashad as Mary Anne Creed, Donnie’s no-nonsense mother. “I don’t know either,” says her son. These actors know and are comfortable with the characters they play, so it’s easy for us to like them. Dolph Lundgren, on the other hand, is easy to dislike. He’s back from “Rocky IV” as Ivan (“I will break you”) Drago, training his son Viktor to take out Donnie Creed.
Others in the cast include professional boxer Florian (“Big Nasty”) Munteanu as Viktor Drago, determined to defeat young Drago. “Creed must fight me,” Viktor says, “or he’s no champion.” Russell Hornsby is boxing promoter Buddy Marcelle, determined to bring Drago and Creed together in “the fight the world has been waiting for.”
“Creed II,” directed by Steven Caple Jr., has story, characters and script created by Ryan Coogler, Cheo Hodari Coker, Sescha Penn, Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone. It’s a boxing movie, but tells another story as well: how Donnie Creed, who became a fighter in “Creed,” becomes a man in “Creed II.” He has help — wife Bianca, mother Mary Anne, but mostly, old friend and coach Rocky Balboa. “Are you here,” says Rocky before Donnie enters the ring for the second time, “to do something for other people, or are you here to do something for yourself?” Donnie answers in the epilogue, visiting his father’s grave.
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, language and sensuality, “Creed II” runs 130 minutes.
“Creed II” is one more “Rocky” pic,
Fans will like this boxing flick;
If you, like me, aren’t much a fan,
Watch its hero become a man.