Screenshot from MGM
Rating: 4/5 Stars
“Life’s not about how hard the hits you can give…it’s about how many you can take, and still keep moving forward,” are the memorable words that Rocky Balboa said when giving advice to his son in the last film under its eponymous name.
It is the philosophy of the Rocky franchise, and the metaphor of boxing came to symbolize being resilient when it comes to the face of adversity.
It’s been nine years since Sylvester Stallone retired from playing the iconic character. The franchise was none the less revived and reintroduced as Creed in 2015 directed by Ryan Coogler and became to smash hit with contemporary audiences. Now in 2018, Ryan Coogler and Sylvester Stallone as executive producers and director, Steven Caple Jr. continue the story in the much-anticipated movie, Creed II.
Creed II focuses on the legacy of the forefathers. It gets personal for Adonis Creed as Ivan Drago, who killed Apollo Creed, Adonis’ father and legendary heavy-weight champion within the events of Rocky IV. We are introduced to Viktor Drago, an upcoming contender and the son of the Ivan Drago who challenged Adonis, a newly established heavyweight champion to compete for boxing glory.
Adonis need to go throughout the journey and answer the question, “What are you truly fighting for?” instead of going into the ring and blindly defend his father’s legacy with hatred and vengeance. The character of Adonis Creed, although on paper, he is technically privileged due to his famous father in the boxing. There was a lot of pressure for him to live up to the legendary status, he has to work twice as hard to establish his own path in the first movie. At the same time, He felt pressure to defend and avenge his father’s legacy and tie the loose ends of the events of Rocky IV, but instead, the vengeful and hatred clouded his judgment.
On top of that, his long-time girlfriend, Bianca Taylor becomes pregnant and gave birth to his baby daughter, which proves to be difficult when it comes to accepting the fight because there is a possibility he ended up with the same fate as his father.
Ivan Drago who is played by Dolph Lungren was portrayed in Rocky IV as the indestructible, flawless machine and there is no chance that Rocky will ever beat him. Quite contrary, Ivan Drago in Creed II is portrayed as a more sympathetic character and someone who has a heart. His motivations at first seemed selfish and wanted to live vicariously through the glory of his son, but in reality, it was his own insecurities of his wife leaving him and the fact that he was kicked out of the Russian boxing league that causes him to challenge Adonis in the first place.
Despite the boxing troupes and predictable plot, the cinematography and the choreography of the boxing scenes were phenomenal. It showcases each of Adonis Creed and Ivan Drago’s stylistic boxing—one lightning fast and light on their feet, another strategic and calculating and seldom with their punches, as the boxing has always been a sport of theatrics.
As Rocky has pioneered the training montage that is pertinent to the sporting films nowadays. It was through impressive shots of Adonis’ training in the underwater pool, running tirelessly in the middle of the desert and matching the rapid flicker of a campfire. There is a cinematic quality of endurance that played off fondly for the audience to appreciate.
Creed II proves to be cut from the same fabric as the original Rocky series and has moved contemporary audiences as well as the long-term fans. The plot thickens as it is both a sequel and spin-off from Rocky IV, showing once again about what are you truly living for and that you got everything to lose if you take a misstep. A mature and much complex plotline, Creed II continues to inspire those who are facing difficulties in life and maintain the fighting spirit of the Rocky franchise.