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Box Office Contender ‘Creed II’

Gabriel Anton

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This year’s Thanksgiving season at the theaters delivers the thrilling and emotional sports drama film “Creed II,” the sequel to the debut to the Creed franchise in “Creed” back in late Nov. of 2015.

Although the original writer, director and producer Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”) is not returning in any capacity for the making of this film, director Steven Caple Jr. (“The Land”) has his blessing with the continuation of this franchise alongside returning cast members Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson. “Creed II” was released on Tuesday, Nov. 21 on a $50 million budget and it’s expecting to profit by the end of the week, continuing strong in the next month.

Branching off the first “Creed,” Michael B. Jordan’s eponymous character is still finding himself stuck reliving the events of his father’s death and having to deal with his part in the legacy he left him. “Creed II” takes a natural course of action as it brings the death of Apollo in the boxing ring at the hands of Ivan Drago, the powerful and dangerous Russian boxer from “Rocky IV,” into the limelight of Adonis’s career.

The film sees Rocky’s washed out Russian ex-rival, played by veteran actor Dolph Lundgren, still suffering from his brutal defeat at his hands about 20 years ago, who returns to seek a vengeful victory over the new heavy-weight champion and son of the man he murdered. And this vengeance comes in form of his burly, intimidating and dangerous boxer son, Viktor Drago. The sons of these two legendary boxers meet in the ring for the first time to either repeat or rewrite history.

What this movie does well handles the old events from “Rocky IV” with care and precision, and uses them to give Adonis Creed the biggest obstacle he has ever faced. When looking at what these new “Creed” movies are trying to do, it is very reasonable to continue the story this way, albeit being a paint-by-the-numbers storyline with predictable climaxes. The emotion was highly present. This test would allow Adonis Creed to prove to himself that he wasn’t going to stay in his father’s shadow for the rest of his life, but to start his own legacy.

This was something that Adonis had been struggling with in “Creed.” It is something that gives startling realism to his character, without following any movie tropes or clichés. “Creed II” can very well be a real life story and the pace and emotion of this movie allowed it to be a very good representation of so.

Both sides of the battle were facing tough times. Ivan Drago was facing disgrace in his country after his loss. His wife had left him, and the respect that accompanied his name for his entire career was gone. He is under immense pressure to reclaim the heavy-weight belt with his own son, who is at the tail-end of Ivan’s own fury and pressure.

Adonis, knowing too well the circumstances of his father’s death and the toll it took on him and his mother Mary Anne, played by returning star Phylicia Rashad (“The Cosby Show”), now has a new family to provide for after his daughter was born. What he faces in the ring would carry all the emotional weight from his father, mother, Rocky, his lover Bianca, played by returning star Tessa Thompson and his new-born daughter.

Rocky is what held this movie together. His presence in Adonis’s life is powerful and moving, always there to provide an essential piece of wisdom that would help propel him in the right direction. And we see in the movie that when Adonis doesn’t “know what he is fighting for,” he loses sight of his abilities.

Rocky is there to assure that Adonis’s full potential is fulfilled and that he doesn’t fall to his own pride like his father had when he didn’t want to give up against Drago and was subsequently beaten to death in the ring.

A great piece of imagery from this movie (which is wonderfully shot and choreographed) is seen in Apollo Creed’s old sparring gym, where Adonis Creed, injured with a broken spirit, is lying beside an empty boxing ring as he introduces his newborn daughter to the punching bag and to what his life has always been about. What’s on screen is the span of three generations of Creed, and the essence of their accomplishments. Rocky, Apollo, Bianca, Mary Anne, Viktor, Ivan and the whole world stood still surrounding the most real part of the movie, where the story that began in Rocky I had now developed into an inspiration for every generation.

The “Creed” movies have solidified themselves as a modern-age “Rocky” franchise, rich with the history of the past six movies, written and directed in ways that make it feel like this was happening in real life. “Creed II” was more of a movie about relationships, family, history and self-determination than a pure fighting movie.

The Max Kellerman commentated, very realistic and analysis prone, brutal, visceral and entertaining fights in this film are used as tools to propel these themes and develop these characters. The performances were top notch, the Sylvester Stallone-written script was well realized and emotionally engaging, the imagery was magical, and the gripes of the movie were few. Sitting with an 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, “Creed II” does not disappoint, enriches an already prosperous franchise and is the movie to see this holiday season.

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Box Office Contender ‘Creed II’