By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
If Sylvester Stallone, Michael B. Jordan and screenwriter Ryan Coogler live to be 120-years-old and still want to make “Creed” movies, well, that’s fine with me because this boxing saga will never get old.
Coogler isn’t in the director’s chair this time around for “Creed II.”
Those duties have been passed to Steven Caple Jr. (“The Land” and TV’s “Grown-ish”), but Coogler still has screenwriting and executive producer credits and his imprint is apparent throughout “Creed II.”
Everything that worked in the 2015 movie “Creed” works even better in this sequel.
Stallone, who was robbed of the “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar for his role as Rocky Balboa in “Creed”—Mark Rylance won it for “Bridge of Spies”—is as good if not better than he was in the original.
And Michael B. Jordan and his love interest Tessa Thompson, are again superb and light up the screen here.
Life has been pretty good for Adonis Creed Johnson (Jordan), son of the late boxing champ Apollo Creed. He’s the man. Adonis is also holding on to the WBC heavyweight crown.
His love for his musician girlfriend Bianca (Thompson) keeps growing. So much so, that he’s ready to make her his wifey.
His adopted mom Mary Anne Creed (a terrific Phylicia Rashad, TV’s “Empire”) is proud of the man that Adonis has become. The relationship with his best friend and mentor, Rocky Balboa (a fabulous Stallone) is great too.
Still, something is missing in Adonis’s life. Despite all the accolades to prove his worth, Adonis doesn’t feel like he’s the best boxer in the world.
When Adonis crosses paths with an egotistical boxing promoter named Buddy Marcelle (a terrific Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”) and he offers him a chance to fight the gargantuan Russian boxer Viktor Drago (Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu), well, Adonis just can’t say no.
Plus, this dude Viktor has ties to Adonis’s past. Viktor’s father, Ivan Drago (a very good Dolph Lundgren, upcoming “Aquaman”) is the boxer who killed Apollo Creed while in the ring. (“Rocky IV”).
Rocky doesn’t need any more memories of that horrific day seeing that Apollo Creed died in his arms.
Rocky begs Adonis to let this fight go because Ivan Drago broke things in him that “ain’t never been fixed.” Rocky swears he can’t possibly train Adonis and put either of them through such an ordeal.
When Adonis informs his mom that taking the fight would have meant as much to his father as it does to him, she angrily tells him not to pretend that this has anything to do with his father.
Bianca isn’t crazy about the idea either, but she understands that Adonis is a fighter. It’s in his blood. Her biggest concern now that she’s pregnant is whether Adonis will be around or healthy enough to raise their child.
Adonis decides to take the fight and initially recruits Tony "Little Duke" Evers, (the ever talented Wood Harris, TV’s “The New Edition Story”).
Tony is the son of Apollo Creed’s trainer.
The first fight between Adonis and Viktor doesn’t go well at all for Adonis.
He really needs Rocky Balboa to train him for a rematch and to shake those demons telling him that he’ll never live up to his dad’s legacy.
Reluctantly, Rocky agrees to train Adonis. Cue the “Gonna Fly Now” theme song.
Rocky puts Adonis through the test with extensive running and weightlifting routines. But boy, when he’s finished with him, Adonis is one chiseled specimen.
The fight sequences in “Creed II” are remarkably choreographed and pack plenty of punch, but the real heart of this movie comes from the more intimate and smaller moments between the characters, notably Stallone, Thompson and Jordan.
There’s a touching scene with Rocky talking to Adonis about what he should say when he proposes to Bianca. And a funny one as they discuss the baby’s name.
Say what you want about this “Creed”/“Rocky” franchise, Stallone and now Coogler, have found an enduring and winning formula that goes the distance.
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Check Out This Trailer For "CREED II"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.