"a classic in the making, you could say it's a match up for our time and a passing of the torch between the old guard and new"
The "Rocky" cinematic universe is an unusual one, with it spanning more than forty years and effectively having a soft reboot or continuation with the release of Creed in 2015, it runs the risk of being outdated in the current climate.
Creed II though is what's best about this universe; it is at heart a sports drama with a real human centre and serves to make the audience think as well as entertain. The premise of course was simple, history seems to be repeating itself as tends to happen; Adonis Creed has the world at his feet at the beginning of the story, however he is royally brought down to earth when Viktor Drago, son of (Dolph Lundgren's Ivan Dragon) arrives in America wanting to challenge him.
What makes this premise fresh whilst being a faithful homage to its predecessor is that rather than that being just a loose way to set up a fight the story is built to make you feel like you sympathise with both sides. We feel for Adonis, a champion in his own right, perpetually stuck in the shadow of his late father Apollo, who for those who have not seen Rocky 4 (and why haven't you it's a cheesy classic) died at the hands of Ivan Drago in a savage boxing match. We also end up feeling for Viktor, a man who it is explained was brought up in hate, fighting daily and is somewhat of a monster throughout, who is shown attempting to find his father's love and acceptance and bring perceived glory back to Russia.
Although throughout the film we see cracks form in both fighters, one of the most interesting plot threads we pick up is the aftermath and affect that Drago Vs Rocky (Also from Rocky 4) had on both men, in Drago's case he was disgraced and has lived with that for 30 years. In Rocky's case it makes him apprehensive to train Adonis and is the catalyst of a huge set piece between the two men. These somewhat small pieces of the story potentially could have been glossed over but they're handled with the gravitas that they deserve.
Whilst to speak further about the main plot would give away way too much, what I can say is in nearly all aspects, this film makes you feel for the leads and keeps you very much involved throughout.
Looking at the talent on display in the cast it is hardly surprising that the minutes flew by, Michael B. Jordan is superb once again as Adonis as is newcomer and mixed marital artist Florian Munteanu who portrays Viktor Drago, whilst not exactly the most dialogue heavy part, he is never the less entertaining.
They are rounded out by superb supporting turns from Tessa Thompson as Bianca, Sylvester Stallone & Dolph Lundgren as Rocky and Ivan Drago respectively and lastly Russell Hornsby playing the ever slimy Buddy Marcelle.
The soundtrack is a rather unique beast as well, largely hip hop, heavy to fit with the changing of the guard so to speak between Rocky and Adonis as well borrowing samples and cues from previous Rocky movies to show its faithfulness.
At present my only gripe with the film is some elements of the relationship between Adonis and Bianca may have been shoehorned in a little, although they are paid off well.
To summarise, this film is something of a rarity. To fans of the series this feels more of a direct sequel to Rocky 4 than Creed, and there are many small touches, homages and call backs to other entries that you will have you smiling throughout. However to the wider audience or should I say the general public Creed II is somewhat of a classic fight, not so much good vs evil as a bigger question. It's cliché but the question of which is stronger, Hate or Love, being decided in a boxing match works brilliantly, in this reviewers screening no one could help but cheer and clap at the climax of the film, which goes to show its impact.
Creed II is in my opinion, a classic in the making, you could say it's a match up for our time and a passing of the torch between the old guard and new. It's also about two very important things, LOVE & FAMILY in whatever form they take.