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  Creed II Father Knows Worst
Year: 2018
Director: Steven Caple Jr
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteneau, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Robbie Johns, Andre Ward, Brigitte Nielsen, Patrice Harris, Jacob 'Stitch' Duran, Ana Gerena
Genre: Drama, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has matched his father Apollo's achievement by becoming heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and nothing can take that away from him. Not like his father was taken away from him during a fight in Las Vegas, thanks to the efforts of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a boxer who had subjected himself to the very latest training methods the Soviet Union had developed. Drago was to meet his match, however, but is now mounting a comeback: not by himself, but through his son Viktor (Florian Munteneau), a powerful combatant who is vaulting up the international rankings, and now wants a shot at Adonis's title...

Wait, wasn't this a Rocky movie? Sylvester Stallone was present, both before the camera and behind the scenes, for as well as returning as his most famous character he penned the screenplay (with Juel Taylor), a fact that was obvious when you considered he was rehashing the plots of Rocky III and Rocky IV and mingling them together. Not that this was to Creed II's detriment, for fans wanted to know where they were in a Rocky instalment, and it was not about to take any huge chances, nor do anything completely absurd like have Balboa rematch against Ivan Drago, now they were both getting up in years. Except that was kind of what they did, through different opponents.

Therefore while Viktor was fighting for the honour of himself and his country, mostly he was doing so on his father's instructions, since Ivan had seriously lost face in the Soviet Union after Rocky put him in his place, and now was considered a relic of the past now Russia was moving on. How to stay relevant, and prove he was not a complete failure? Get Junior to fight your battles for you, that's how, which was what Balboa would have done had his own son been interested in carrying on in his father's footsteps, which he was not. That meant the son of one of his best friends, Apollo, had to be pressed into service, though the uber-patriotism of Rocky IV was toned down to something more personal.

"Is it East versus West, or man against man?" asked Survivor's Burning Heart, the theme song to the 1985 film that this was, in a way, a direct sequel to, not that the business between those was ignored. This time the Cold War was well and truly over, though the national pride still existed, but there was a lot of the grudge match about Donny and Viktor clashing in the ring, more than representing their respective countries. Interestingly, the rivalry was more shaded this time, not enormously subtle, but enough to illustrate how times had changed, and Ivan's faith in the old status quo was misguidedly leading him to seek glory in the same manner he had in the eighties, to the extent of courting the politics - Brigitte Nielsen returned for a brief, striking appearance as the woman Ivan lost, now in a position of power that her ex simply does not have.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Donny has his domestic life to attend to, as Tessa Thompson returned as his girlfriend, the hearing-impaired singer Bianca who he proposes to early on, bringing about a pregnancy and a baby, also doubling as a neat indication of how much time was passing. This was certainly one of the most sentimental entries in the franchise, not solely because there was a cute ickle baby to coo over, but because Stallone had announced this was the final time he was playing Rocky, and was passing on his mantle to Jordan. The younger star was more than capable of carrying a movie, but one wondered how audiences would react to him carrying on without the input of Sly, either as his character or on script duties. Ryan Coogler, who had brought the franchise back to life as director, was a producer on this - Steven Caple Jr, a relative unknown, at the helm here - and if he had been interested in reteaming with Jordan for Creed, we would be in safe hands. Yes, there were no earth-shattering surprises, but it was an old reliable in the movie world nonetheless, easy to indulge. Music by Ludwig Göransson (nicely judged use of the theme, there).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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