Thanks to Roadshow Films we had the chance to see Steven Caple Jr.‘s “Creed II” before its national release. This is our review of the movie but, as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!

Creed II finds Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), still under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) becoming world heavyweight Champion. The celebrations don’t last long, as Rocky’s most infamous opponent Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) comes out of his exile with his son, heavyweight boxer Viktor (Florian ‘Big Nasty’ Munteanu), to challenge Adonis and get back the prize.

For Adonis this is personal as Drago was the man who killed his dad Apollo Creed in the ring and for Drago this is the way to get everything back after all the humiliation he faced since his defeat against Balboa in Russia. His defeat even caused him to lose his marriage and the respect of his countrymen, forcing him to leave his motherland and suffer years of torment.

The beloved Rocky franchise has proven to be surprisingly timeless, with films like Rocky Balboa (2006) and Creed (2015) being welcomed with rave reviews despite the many years since the release of the “final film” of the original saga: Rocky V (1990). Three years ago, Creed was able to captivate a new generation of Rocky fans (as well as die-hard old school ones) with an excellent script and superb cast that continues the story of Apollo Creed’s lost son Adonis.

Creed II is not only a fantastic Creed sequel, it’s also a fantastic follow up of Rocky IV thanks to the return of Dolph Lundgren, who delivers one of the best performances of his career by bringing Ivan Drago back but this time with a more dramatic take as a struggling parent desperate for revenge and retribution.

Michael B. Jordan looks fitter than ever and like in the previous film he truly owns the character of Adonis and carries the weight he needs to live up to his father’s legacy. Jordan also has a more dramatic take this time, has he needs to face his own fears as, especially after becoming a dad with Tessa Thompson‘s character Bianca.

Stallone deserves his own praise, not only for another memorable performance as the former Italian Stallion, but also because in this film he truly feels like a secondary character – a memorable one with solid moments and new instant classic sequences that will give fans goosebumps, especially when he’s interacting with Lundgren.

The boxing matches and the training montages also return, with a level of intensity that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The fights between Adonis and Viktor Drago, who like his father in Rocky IV has a few lines that make the character genuinely fearsome, have unexpected outcomes not because of the results but because of the way there are built up.

Creed II could have been another flawless release but it’s let down by its soundtrack as there is a tendency to showcase too much Hip-Hop and R&B, missing a great chance to create an iconic “Creed Theme” when Adonis walks to the ring by pushing the music by Tessa Thompson’s character (who is a musician in both the film and real life) instead on focusing on what made the soundtrack of the original the Rocky saga an all-time favourite with tracks like Survivor’s “Eye of The Tiger” and Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now”. Still, the score has a few hints of classic Rocky themes – just not enough.

Overall, Creed II is a triumph and one of the best sequels of recent years. It’s a solid addition to the Rocky series while becoming a thing of its own. It shows again that with a solid script, no over-the-top special effects and respect for the source material films can still give you chills and even force the toughest viewers to drop a tear or two. Bring on Creed III!

Creed II – In Cinemas 29 November 2018