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Blu-ray Review: Creed II

March 12, 2019

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

A sequel to the surprisingly strong 2015 boxing drama Creed, which was itself a spinoff from and continuation of the Rocky franchise, Creed II finds the reigning heavyweight champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) being challenged to face off against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu).

The fight is personal for both of them, because Viktor is the son of Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lindgren), who ended up killing Adonis’s father Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the ring several decades earlier, before going up against and being beaten by Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone).

Pressured by a slick promoter named Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby) to accept the fight, Adonis agrees to get into the ring, but Rocky is reluctant to train him, lest he face the same fate as his father. This is a solid premise that expands upon the franchise’s classic themes of fathers and sons, but instead of building up towards one big fight, much of Creed II actually focuses on Adonis’s relationship with his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

They get engaged early on in the story, and Bianca finds out she is pregnant shortly after. The prospect of becoming a father himself prompts Adonis to start reevaluating his own life choices, which includes making the decision to move away from Rocky’s hometown of Philadelphia and go back to Los Angeles to be closer to his mother, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad). The film has a soap opera quality to it at times, sometimes playing more like a character melodrama than a straight up boxing movie, and it runs a little long at over two hours with the pacing often feeling uneven.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr., taking over from the original film’s Ryan Coogler, who left the franchise to helm Black Panther, Creed II is ultimately a decent sequel that doesn’t quite match the successes of its predecessor. Coogler’s visual prowess is largely missed, and there is nothing as stylish here as the first film’s exhilarating long take set to Tupac. Everything about this sequel is competent, and Caple Jr. does a capable job behind the camera, but it doesn’t pop the same way that Creed did.

Jordan once again grounds the film with a strong performance, and Stallone still manages to bring a rugged, lived-in quality to the character that he first played over forty years ago. Munteanu impresses in the role of the largely sympathetic antagonist Viktor, the son of a man who lost everything in his home country after losing the fight to Rocky Balboa, and hopes to help restore his father’s honour.

While Creed II doesn’t exactly live up to the promise of the first one, or the best entries in the original Rocky franchise, when this sequel is hitting the usual sports movie beats, especially during the training montages and moments in the ring, it makes for appropriately rousing if predictable entertainment that is still worth a look if you are a fan of the larger series.

The Blu-ray also includes a selection of four deleted scenes, as well as four featurettes. Fathers & Sons offers an overview of the story’s themes; Casting Viktor Drago looks at how Munteanu was cast in the project and prepared for the role; The Women of Creed II focuses on the characters of Bianca and Mary Anne; and The Rocky Legacy offers an overview of the franchise hosted by Dolph Lundgren, exploring how the films have always been about underdogs rising to the top.

Creed II is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 130 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: March 5th, 2019

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