The first Creed movie breathed fresh life into the tired Rocky franchise, introducing Michael B Jordan as the son of Apollo Creed and having Rocky Balboa mentor him through to becoming a professional boxer. All the familiar key elements were there from previous Rocky movies – the training montages, the love interest, the opponent you can’t wait to see defeated. But this new take on it all worked well, resulting in a hugely enjoyable movie, and a sequel was inevitable.
With Creed 2, we get even more ties to the Rocky movies. In a bleak looking Ukraine, Ivan Drago lives with son Viktor. In Rocky IV, Ivan was the man responsible for killing Apollo Creed in a boxing match, before suffering defeat at the hands of Rocky in his hometown of Russia in the epic finale. In terms of cinematic experiences, Rocky IV was the absolute peak of the franchise. So intense, drawing unified cheers and applause from the audience I was watching it with, something you don’t very often get in the cinema.
That defeat in mother Russia brought shame on Ivan and he and Viktor now live a simple life, with Viktor being trained daily by Ivan and participating in small local boxing matches, pummeling his opponents and drawing the attention of an American boxing promoter. When Adonis Creed wins the heavyweight title over in America, you can almost see the dollar signs flashing in the promoters eyes, and bringing these two together to settle old scores forms the basis of the rest of the movie.
Those familiar plot beats I described earlier, they’re all here again, but that’s not to say that they’re any less enjoyable than when we’ve seen them before. At times they’re even more exciting, with the added intensity coming from knowing that this is a fight that’s been over 30 years in the making.
Despite the traditional halfway lull, with our hero experiencing a period of doubt and self reflection, this is once again another intense and uplifting movie. Brilliant.