Reviewed by: Samuel A. Torcasio
Being a good mentor/trainer
In what ways can mature followers of Christ effectively mentor the less mature
Importance of family
|Featuring:||Michael B. Jordan … Adonis “Donnie” Creed
Sylvester Stallone … Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Sr.
Dolph Lundgren … Ivan Drago
Florian Munteanu … Viktor Drago
Tessa Thompson … Bianca Porter
Wood Harris … Tony “Little Duke” Burton
Russell Hornsby … Buddy Marcelle
Phylicia Rashad … Mary Anne Creed—Apollo’s widow and Adonis’ stepmother
Michael Buffer … Michael Buffer
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|Director:||Steven Caple Jr.|
New Line Cinema
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“You want to change things in a big way, then you got to change big.”
The sequel to “Creed,” and the 8th film overall in the Rocky franchise, loses no time as it gets right to the heart of the story. In a way, this is not only a direct sequel to “Creed,” but also a sequel to “Rocky IV” (1985) where Apollo Creed is killed in an Exhibition bout with Russian boxer Ivan Drago. “Rocky IV” ends with Rocky Balboa beating Drago in a boxing match in his home country of Russia, at the time of the film still the Soviet Union. Now, in “Creed II,” Ivan Drago is back with his son Viktor, who is challenging the deceased Apollo’s son Adonis Creed for a shot at the heavyweight title.
When I first heard the premise of this film, I was a bit skeptical. My Dad got me into the Rocky movies when I was a kid, and I have been huge fan ever since. I was ecstatic when I heard they were releasing “Rocky Balboa” in 2006, the first Rocky film in 16 years. And I definitely thought that would be it, but then I was again pleasantly surprised when they announced the spinoff “Creed” a few years back, and that film did not disappoint. Like many, I am always wanting a new film in the Rocky/Creed series, but I thought bringing Drago back, though it sounded cool, might be a bit much. “Rocky IV,” though a great film, is widely thought to be the most unrealistic story of the franchise. And I thought they should try to keep “Creed” a little more down to earth.
With all that said, let me just tell you—for me, “Creed II” works! It is worthy to be in the Rocky saga. And it even brings some realism and depth to the character of Drago and his backstory that in some ways, I think, gives “Rocky IV” more depth.
The original “Creed” rebooted the Rocky story in a fresh way. “Creed II,” while dependent on its predecessor, and not having a story that flows quite as smoothly (it does feel slow at times), nonetheless is an exciting film with a well told story and great action. There is a lot of depth and character development, and I found it fun to watch. This new entry definitely adds to the Rocky saga, and it is a good movie overall. The cast dud an excellent job. The cinematography is very good, and the boxing matches are up a notch. We get to see the fights from more angles, though be cautioned that the intensity and violence is up a notch, too.
I love what Dolph Lundgren has done with the character of Ivan Drago, adding depth and a human element that we did not see in “Rocky IV.” His relationship with his son is a compelling part of the story, and I actually end up feeling for both them, even though they are the villains. I won’t tell you why, you will just have to see the movie. It’s very well told.
We really don’t want to give too much of the story away in this review, but there is a definite theme of family. Specifically of the relationship between a father and his son. And we see that not only with Ivan and Viktor, but with Adonis Creed and his deceased father Apollo, as well as with Rocky and his son Robert. Each has its own interesting dynamic.
One could also say that there is a theme of revenge—Adonis revenging his deceased father—Ivan avenging his defeat at the hand of Rocky and living through his son to defeat him and his protégé. The theme of legacy is strong, too. Rocky’s legacy, Creed’s legacy, Drago’s legacy—it’s all there.
After watching the movie though I think there is more to the Drago story than we are at first led to believe. Yes, both are pretty tough dudes with a mean edge. Yes, there is an element of revenge and a desire for self-glory. But one thing that’s clear is that Ivan really loves his son. And after seeing this film, I have a theory that maybe Ivan is more concerned about teaching his son about fighting hard and giving it his best. Not, that he doesn’t want to win. But without giving too much away (this is a plot point known before the movie was released), Ivan’s wife left him when he lost to Rocky. He even tells his son at one point, “That’s why she left us.” But it’s clear to me that Ivan Drago will stick with his son no matter what, and it’s rather touching, and the kind of thing that gives Rocky movies heart.
As with Rocky and Adrian in the first five Rocky films, there are some complexities that come into Adonis and Bianca’s relationship that they will have to work out. At the film’s beginning, they are not married (see caution about this below), but it doesn’t take long for that to happen. We don’t see the wedding, but it is definitely made clear that they are married.
At one point, Bianca shares with Adonis’ mother Mary Anne that he seems more distant and disconnected from her. Mary Anne gives Bianca advice, as she had a similar struggle with Apollo. Adonis is definitely struggling with anger. And add to all this that they have a baby, and that there is a health concern issue to work through. Rocky gives Adonis advice about his baby saying, “She ain’t feeling sorry for herself, and you shouldn’t be feeling sorry for her either.” That’s a powerful statement. We don’t help people by just feeling sorry for them. Of course, a parent will be concerned about their child, and all situations are different. But the Rocky films are about rising above the circumstances and beating the odds. True, we won’t all become heavyweight champions of the world, but there is great eternal truth to giving life your all, not letting circumstances get you down, and having a positive outlook. As Christians, we should do this for the glory of Christ, and trust Him for the results.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies… So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:7-10, 16-17).
If the Apostle Paul felt sorry for himself, he would not have gotten much done for the Lord! If he simply felt sorry for others, he could not have encouraged them to get much done either. And he is encouraging us today through the Scriptures! We don’t want to make light of illness and unfortunate circumstances, but we must have God’s eternal perspective on them, and on life as a whole. The Bible tells us how to view life. Some people are disadvantaged in life more than others, and life is not always fair. God doesn’t promise it will be fair. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, He has provided a true and solid hope for all who believe. He has provided a reason to persevere!
In another place, Paul even uses a boxing analogy for Christian life:
“I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” —1 Cor. 9:26-27
And he also says:
“I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” —Phil. 3:14
The film steps up the violence, compared to previous Rocky movies. There are cuts, lots of blood, and hard hitting. One character is seen peeing blood.
Language: s**t (12+), bulls**t (1), b*tch (2), H*ll (3), damn (1)
There is a scene of premarital sex.
If you are a Rocky fan, you’ll likely enjoy this film. It’s got great boxing action, a story with depth, and characters you already know and love—growing and changing (and again even the Dragos have quite a compelling story). If you are not a Rocky fan yet, before viewing this movie, make sure you see the previous seven films first… or, okay, at least “Rocky IV” and “Creed.”
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.