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CREED II (2018)

Creed II - CoverDid you know that one of the main reasons boxers don’t have sex before a fight, is because generally, neither of them fancy each other? Want to know more? Then please check out the following 130-minute movie produced by ‘Warner Brothers’, directed by Steven Caple Junior, and starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, and Florian Munteanu. Please enjoy.


Creed II [Standard Edition]


THE STORY:
You told me, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone). You looked me squarely in the eyes and said, ‘Don’t do it, kid, don’t fight Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), even though his father did kill yours in a boxing match, many years ago’.

But, just like a fool, I didn’t listen to you, did I old pal? I didn’t listen to what you had to say because I’m Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), the heavyweight champion of the world, and I thought that I had to avenge my father’s death and prove to everyone that I’m still the best in the business: Including my foster-mum Mary (Phylicia Rashad), my wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson), and hopefully, touch wood, my new little baby girl. 

Well, that’s what I thought, anyway, until I eventually stepped into the ring and got beat up by Viktor, big time, which explains why I’m now battered, broken, and bruised, and in dire need of some help.  Or to be more specific about it, your help Rocky! So what do you say?  Will you teach me how to fight back? Or will you walk away again? Just like you did last time! Either way, that’s most probably why what next transpires gets rather emotional when it seconds out, ding-ding, round two. As a father needs nine months to heal — an opponent is made from Russian steel — a grudge match shows a lot of zeal —  and at the end of the day, please remember, family and friendship will always be the real deal. 




THE REVIEW:
What do we get when we take the first four 'Rocky' films and mix them all together with an ample dose of updated Nubian charm? No. We don’t get an old Cat Stevens song, silly. Not totally, anyway. But what we get instead isn’t actually too far off the mark.

Creed II -- Michael B. Jordan
You see, at face value, ‘Creed II’ comes across like a generic boxing movie most of us have seen many times before. Step One: The first part of the plot defines all of the principal characters and establishes the world they live in (Creed, Rocky, Philadelphia, etc). Step Two: The status of the main character then gets slightly elevated and the premise lays down the groundwork for the road ahead (namely, can Creed hold onto his world title?). Step Three: An initial conflict is set up which impedes the ‘hero’s journey’ (i.e. Drago kicks Creed’s ass). And Step Four: The last slice of the story chronicles what the hero has to do in order to overcome the numerous challenges blocking his path (roll montage sequence please). 

But, that aside, underneath it all is something far more original than just another conventional boxing movie, because in addition to this, this film is also a fairly emotional sports-drama that’s focused on the relationship between a father and their child. Or in other words, two familiar figures who have the ability to illustrate how legacy, redemption, and self-respect is sometimes a story of two unequal halves!

Case in point, most of the sequences that center around 'The Creed Family', mainly focus on Adonis Creed’s need to uphold his father’s legacy by avenging his tragic death. Whereas 'The Balboa Family' subplot, on the other hand, concentrates on Rocky Balboa’s inability to connect with his own son, Robert, which is why he directs his efforts towards his surrogate sibling instead. And as for 'The Drago Clan', well, in their part of the adventure, Ivan wants to prove to the country he previously failed that his son Viktor can redeem them both and win back their rightful status.  A status, I hasten to add, which gave their arc a lot more depth and substance than I initially thought it would, all because it managed to explain what happened to them after the events of ‘Rocky IV’, and to a certain degree, acts as a sequel to that film as well as the one before this. 

Creed II - Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson
Anyway, that’s enough of that for the time being, as now seems like a pretty good time to sit back, relax, and check out the following filmic facts: (1) ‘Warner Bros.’ first released this fifty million dollar production in New York, New York, on the exact same day the UK celebrated Prince Charles’s birthday. It was on the 14th of November, 2018, and it eventually clawed back two-hundred and fourteen million dollars at the Box Office. (2) Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the first 'Creed' film, wasn’t able to direct this one due to a scheduling conflict he had with 'Black Panther', which was another film he was involved with at the time. So, as a compromise, he served as an executive producer instead, so he could overlook its development whenever possible. (3) If you think about it, quite a few of the actors who star in this movie also starred in a number of comic book related projects. For instance, Tessa Thompson played Valkyrie in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’, Michael B. Jordan played Erik Killmonger in ‘Black Panther’, Brigitte Nielsen played Sonja in ‘Red Sonja’, Sylvester Stallone played Dredd in ‘Judge Dredd’ and Stakar Ogord in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 2)’, and Dolph Lundgren played The Punisher in his solo film and King Nereus in ‘Aquaman’. (4) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout The United States of America. This includes Deming [in New Mexico] as well as Philadelphia, Morton, and Chester [in Pennsylvania]. (5) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, states, ‘East vs. West’. (6) Similar to its 1985 predecessor, 'Rocky IV', none of the Russian characters featured in this film are being played by Russian actors. Dolph Lundgren is Swedish, Florian Munteanu is German-Romanian, and Brigitte Nielsen is Danish. (7) Despite having a rather messy marriage and an even worse divorce, both Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen managed to get on well during production, going so far as to put their past differences behind them. (8) After this flick ducked a hook, Michael B. Jordan lent his voice to the animated-adventure, ‘Gen: Lock’; Sylvester Stallone starred in the crime-drama, ‘Backtrace’; and Tessa Thompson narrated the short-film, ‘Brave Girl Rising’.


Creed II - Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu


In closing my review for ‘Creed II’, I can’t help but wonder where the future of this franchise is going to head next! After all, it’s a fairly solid property with a strong cast of characters and a close bond to a pre-existing cinematic mythology. Yet, without giving too much away, the story ends on such a nice, poetic note, it would be a damn shame to see it get spoilt by a ton of inappropriate sequels.

Well, let’s face it; we’ve seen this done many times before, with the 'Alien' series of films, the 'Predator' series of films, the 'Terminator' series of films, and to some extent, the 'Star Wars Universe' as well. Besides, Sly Stallone has publicly stated that he won’t star in any more 'Rocky movies' (despite being the main driving force behind them), and so it would be a right kick in the teeth to see things take a nose dive for the sake of profit and longevity.  

Creed II - Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone
Actually, while I’m on the topic of Mister Stallone, I best mention how much I loved the performances of everyone who starred in this production. This ranges from the main man himself, Michael B. Jordan, who played the title character with all of the gusto and passion that he did in the first movie; to Sly, who did a magnificent job playing a more lyrical version of the Rocky character; all the way to the rest of the cast, with Ivan and Viktor (Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu) adding a sense of dread to the overall plot, while Mary and Bianca (Phylicia Rashad and Tessa Thompson) counteracted this by reinforcing a new family dynamic that’s supportive as well as lovely. So, all in all, a massive round of applause goes to everyone involved for ticking the right boxes in regards to the narrative, the personality, the style, and of course, the action associated with the end product. 

Yes. That’s right. I did say action, hard-hitting action that was very well choreographed and shot in such a way that each blow had an emotional impact as well as a physical one.  Heck, my favorite fight in the entire movie — namely, the last one — was so good, you could almost call it a self-contained silent film, as it spoke with camera angles, physical movements, and facial expressions, rather than words, monologues, or overly staged debates.

Now, if there was one thing about this flick that I wasn’t too keen on, that would have to be how it was sometimes rather slow in places and seemed to drag on, and on, and on, particularly when you could almost second-guess what was going to happen next. Apart from that, though, on the whole, this was a pretty decent film and I would highly recommend it to someone who’s a fan of the franchise.

THE RATING: B-

CREED II (2018) CREED II (2018) Reviewed by David Andrews on April 23, 2019 Rating: 5

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