‘Creed II’ Knocks You Out with Heart & Perseverance (Movie Review)

Creed II Movie ReviewWhere do I even begin here?  I don’t want to bore my readers talking about how much these Rocky franchise of movies adoringly mean to me.   They are absolutely everything to me!   They are my main sources of both perseverance and inspiration in life.  One could even them call them my soundtrack for success, but I digress.  If you’re interested in knowing the full story, you can catch up here and here on all that monkey business.  Instead I want to keenly focus on the continuing storyline of Adonis Creed (Jordan), which coincidentally also involves the legendary character of Rocky Balboa (Stallone).  However, the latter is just the icing on the cake.  Whereas the first film in the “Creed” series, also titled Creed, was very much an origin film of this character Creed II plays out as a throwback to an older Rocky sequel (we’ll get to that down below).

Creed II Movie Review

So here we are near the end of 2018.  Make no mistake about it Creed II is my most anticipated film of the year.  Three years since the last entry, Creed, has felt like an eternity.  And for anyone keeping track Creed II is now the eighth installment in the Rocky film series.  It stars Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, Russell Hornsby, Andre Ward and Phylicia Rashad.  The main difference here is the fact that Ryan Coogler did not return to direct, but Stallone did for duties on this entry (along with Juel Taylor).  Steven Caple Jr., whose big screen credits really only include 2016’s The Land, steps in to take control of the directing reigns here.  You’d have to be clueless to not know that the film obviously follows Adonis Creed’s pursuit to defeat the son of Rocky IV‘s Ivan Drago (Lundgren), the Russian boxer who killed his father, Apollo, in the ring more than 33 years ago.

Creed II Movie Review

Before we talk about what goes down in Creed II let’s quickly recap the events that unintentionally (unless Stallone knew back then this movie would be made ha ha) set this film all up.  Of course I’m talking about the year 1985 and the movie Rocky IV.  In it Russian boxer Ivan Drago stunned the world by killing former U.S. champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the ring at an exhibition match held in Las Vegas.  One could say Apollo had it coming to him with his larger than life ego and taunting of the Russian boxer, but oh wow was that tragic to witness as a kid back in the 1980’s.  Rocky Balboa went on to eventually take down Ivan in one of the most unbelievable boxing matches ever.  Rocky V even starts off with the titular character suffering brain damage from that match (nobody can take the punishment Rocky does in it).

Creed II Movie Review

Fast forward now to 2018 and in Creed II Adonis accepts a challenge from Drago’s son to meet in the ring.  He is portrayed by Florian Munteanu and is even more dangerous looking than Dolph was back in the day.  As you can imagine this is going to come against the wishes of his trainer, Rocky.  He must now prepare Adonis for the fight of his life.  Also, just like in the first Creed, we have parallel hero journeys here as you can call this one very much a shared legacy.  The past of both Rocky and Adonis come back to haunt them.  If they want to be triumphant, they must confront their pasts head on.  After all it’s not like Rocky and Drago became respectable friends after their last bout (their first shared scene here together is so tension filled).  In essence each man is facing their worst nightmare here again and for Rocky it’s like living that nightmare twice so to speak.  Like in the Star Wars films where Luke most face his father this one is all about destiny or the hero’s journey as us writers like to call it.

In preparation for my first screening of Creed II I went back and revisited 2015’s entry again.  Since this was my most anticipated film of 2018  I wanted everything to be completely fresh in my mind so I can really take it all in.  Truth be told I’m still saddened that Stallone didn’t take home an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in that one, but I digress.  However, I’m please to report that Stallone is equally as powerful in this one, but more so from a truly supporting character.  The spotlight is shining brightly on Mr. Jordan here more than ever.  There’s also nothing new or anything that’s going to top any other sequel that has come before, but really just more the same good stuff that makes this franchise a literal knockout.  It’s very much a formulaic Rocky entry, but like The Force Awakens was to Star Wars fans this is what we Rocky fans needed all along even though we didn’t really know it.

Creed II Movie Review

Let’s talk a little bit about this Florian Munteanu guy.  The man is a beast.  What I didn’t like about the first Creed was the fact that Creed’s opponent didn’t look menacing.  He had no muscle tone and quite frankly the smallest chest I ever seen on an athlete.  Fast forward to Creed II here and I would piss my pants if I even had to think about taking a punch from Munteanu.  He would literally break my bones.  This made Creed II that much more tension filled as I’ll be honest with you about something. My body physically hurt after last night’s screening.  I felt like I was beat up after feeling every punch within my seat that Munteanu landed on his opponents.  I was squirming and his punches were both brutal and lethal.  Therefore, I felt the same fear our hero character does most of the film.  Speaking of brutal punches the fight sequences, choreography and convincible landings were all extremely well done and believable.  It didn’t hurt either they all landed with a nice LFE punch behind them too.  I’m just saying.

Creed II Movie Review

Now we all know although the Rocky films are sports action they are very much drama and most of the times if you’re a sap like me tear jerkers.  The tradition continues here as there are some very tender moments and hard knock life lessons sprinkled throughout.  That’s what I love about those films.  While you’re watching the onscreen trials and tribulations of the characters, both good and bad in this particular entry, it forces you to look within yourself to become the best possible specimen you can be, both physically and humanly.  At least that is what I get out of these.  Sure the boxing sequences are completely unbelievable.  Nobody can take hits like this and keep on going, but the Rocky franchise has always been about perseverance and lessons learned through losing/making mistakes.  Creed II is no different.  Using a Rocky-like metaphor you take all the past Rocky movies and put them into a blender and viola you have Creed II.  The film boasts a very much family style theme (generational one too) and I was pleased to even see the villains fleshed out and feeling very much real too.

Creed II Movie Review

I’m quite positive that with what I just covered up above that some critics may even ding it for the fact that it adds nothing new to the overall franchise.  It does however introduce a new training environment so there’s that.  However, at the end of the day it all comes down to your personal attachment with both the franchise and this eighth entry.  Creed II forced me to look within myself, heal my emotional and physical pain I feel from within and ultimately I think I came out of the screening a stronger person (hence my inflated score below).  That’s all that matters to me and I hope it does to you too.  While I feel the first Creed hit me harder I don’t want to make the mistake and rashly say this one wasn’t as good because my high expectations were obviously never checked at the door.  Only time will tell as this one is very much about passing that generational torch over to Jordan to shine brightly with.   So whatever your plans are make sure to include and experience the heart of a champion, a start of a new legacy with many sequels spawned I hope, on the big screen this Thanksgiving Week and most importantly…WIN in life!  Yo Adrian!

Creed II Movie Review


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “‘Creed II’ Knocks You Out with Heart & Perseverance (Movie Review)”

  1. Jay

    Movie was amazing, I agree with your score. Me and my daughter loved it, such a strong ending.

  2. Brian White

    Thanks Jay! I appreciate your feedback so much and glad you equally enjoyed it!