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Film Review: Creed II

Director:    Steve Caple Jr

Cast:    Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu

Rating:    M

Running Time:    130

Australian Distributor:     Roadshow Films

 

After 42 years, Creed II is the eighth film in the incredibly long-running Rocky franchise and the second focused on Apollo Creed’s son Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan). Well that is a milestone and possibly some kind of record, with the same actor starring in all eight films.

The 2015 Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler has left, but Creed II is still in capable enough hands with director Steve Caple Jr and writer Cheo Hodari Coker. Ingeniously, they have managed to carve out yet another story, though it is of course the same old story in a different guise. It has to be. There are no new boxing stories, and no new Rocky stories. That is largely the appeal of Rocky. It is the same old Rocky.

This time, the big news is that light heavyweight contender Adonis faces off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), and, without his mentor and buddy Rocky Balboa in his coaching corner, gets into a hell of a mess. However, later when coached by Rocky, he has a second chance in a re-match against the scary Russian.

In the less interesting department, Adonis proposes to his singer girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) after advice from Rocky of course, gets married and has a baby, and has support and tough love from his mom (Phylicia Rashad), widowed after Apollo Creed died at the hands of Ivan Drago in a boxing match in Rocky IV (1985).

Creed II does the job, but it is somewhat predictable, as before, this time a shade weary with a strong sense of deja vu on top of the previous episode’s familiarity. But the Rocky was always a boxing soap, that is Rocky, that is the franchise, that is its appeal. It isn’t Raging Bull. It doesn’t really intend to be realistic. Talking of which, the boxing is well staged, even excitingly staged, with the help of a little CGI.

Jordan can act and looks fit but not like a World Heavyweight champion as Adonis Creed. He is a good star. Stallone forms a winning team with Jordan, which is the film’s rock and soul. It is their relationship that gives the film credibility and appeal, rather than Adonis’s with his new wife and baby.

It is good to see Lundgren back, and he has just about enough to do to carve out a performance. Munteanu as his boxer son is an impressive physical specimen and a worthy and credible man mountain opponent for Adonis. After all this, there is a fair chance on a Creed III.

 

 






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