Creed II12¦ Blu-ray, 4K, DVD
It was 1976 when Sly Stallone first stepped into the ring as Rocky Balboa in what was to be his first starring role, which he also wrote. It was made on a shoestring budget of $1 million, with low expectations at the box office. It was clearly a million well spent as it made a knockout $225 million back globally.
As if that wasn’t enough of a win, it also went on to pick up three Oscars. It’s no wonder that it was followed by a sequel or two. And thus a franchise was born.
In what is the eighth instalment, Michael B. Jordon returns as Adonis Johnson Creed to take on all comers at a bout or two of fisty cuffs.
After a number of fights, Creed (Jordon) finally gets a crack at the world title – and wins. Some might say, that’s the easy part, it’s holding onto the belt that’s the real hard work.
Out of the woodwork comes a Russian fighter, Victor Drago (Florian Munteanu). It’s a name that Creed is more than familiar with, as it was his old man Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) who put down his father Apollo in the ring – permanently. Team Drago have set their eyes on the title, and are prepared to do anything to get their hands on it.
Creed is all too keen to get revenge, and declares the fight on. He’ll have to do it without Rocky (Stallone) in his corner however, as he’s turned down the opportunity to be there.
Little does Creed know that it’s a battle that will continue long after the final bell is rung.
Creed II is a film dripping in legacy and family. With Stallone’s involvement, it’s one that reaches way back to the original, and then hovers around Rocky IV for its source fighting material. There are connections all over the place, which certainly anchors this title to the heart of the legacy.
It’s a shame that it didn’t focus more on this however; Stallone and Lundgren’s reunion onscreen is all too brief, and certainly more could have – and should have – been made of it.
The family element is hammered home too, possibly too much. Although the parallels between Rocky’s relationship with Adrian, and Creed’s with Bianca (Tess Thompson), are welcome, it does feel like it eats up a whole lot of screen time, making it more of a family drama with a few fights thrown in.
Speaking of which, the fight sequences are also a tad underwhelming. Director Steven Caple Jr., with only one other (film) title under his belt, offers nothing new in any department. In fact, he seems only too keen to reinforce the formulaic nature of the franchise from the off, thus making it a shadow boxing flick of its former glories.
Where it lands a decent punch or two are in performances, namely that of Stallone and Jordon. Stallone, looking his weariest, gives a strong account of himself with a character he’s all too familiar with.
And then there’s Jordon, who certainly looks the part in the ring, but it’s his emotional journey outside of it that makes him a strong contender for years to come.
The film is a little like the current boxing scene; it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the hype surrounding the match up, but when it comes down to the action, it’s less Rumble in the Jungle and more Tyson Fury, and nobody wants to witness that.