Creed II may be a sequel to Creed, but it’s really a continuation of Rocky IV. While not the most positively received installment, Rocky IV still had great material to work with. Despite Ryan Coogler not returning to direct, Michael B. Jordan still brings his A game. Mirroring Rocky II, Donnie proposes to his girlfriend Bianca and has a baby girl. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship, Adonis Creed starts a new life outside of Philadelphia. Leaving Rocky with not much else.
Creed II is entirely centered around fathers and their sons. Donnie’s main opponent is Viktor Drago. Son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father Apollo Creed. The set up is superb, but despite more attention than the last 3 movie’s opponents, Viktor doesn’t leave much of an impression. I was really impressed by Dolph Lundgren’s performance. His portrayal of Drago as somewhat of a sympathetic man living in near poverty is some of his best work in a long time. His reunion with Rocky is just as satisfying as their boxing match was 33 years ago.
I definitely wasn’t expecting a cameo from a certain key character. Of course Rocky’s relationship with Donnie is examined as well. Since he spends more time with him than his own son. He reluctantly trains Donnie in the desert (meanwhile Viktor trains in a gym) so that he’s better prepared for the rematch. Their match is brutal, but (SPOILER ALERT!) Donnie wins. Sylvester Stallone claims this is his last time playing Rocky. If it is, I’d say his final scene is the best possible ending. Creed II isn’t a game changer, but it does bring everything full circle.