TRASH IN MY EYE No. 10 of 2023 (No. 1899) by Leroy Douresseaux
Creed II (2018)
Running time: 130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sports action violence, language, and a scene of sensuality
DIRECTOR: Steven Caple, Jr.
WRITERS: Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone; based on a story by Sascha Penn and Cheo Hodari Coker (based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone and Ryan Coogler)
PRODUCERS: William Chartoff, Sylvester Stallone, Kevin King-Templeton, Charles Winkler, David Winkler, and Irwin Winker
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Kramer Morgenthau (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider, and Paul Harb
COMPOSER: Ludwig Goransson
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Milo Ventimiglia, Robbie Johns, Brigitte Nielsen, Andre Ward, Tony Bellew, Jacob “Stitch” Duran, Max Kellerman, Jim Lampley, Roy Jones, Jr., Michael Buffer, and Scott Van Pelt
Creed II is a 2018 boxing drama and sports movies directed by Steven Caple, Jr. It is the eighth entry in the Rocky film series, which began with the 1976 film, Rocky. Creed II is also a sequel to 2015's Creed, which was a spin-off of the Rocky series. In Creed II, newly crowned heavyweight champion, Adonis Creed, faces off against a boxer who is the son of the man who killed his father in the boxing ring.
Creed II opens three years after the events depicted in Creed. Boxer Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Michael B. Jordan) finally defeats his rival, Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Andre Ward), to win the heavyweight championship of the world. By his side is his trainer, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), the rival-turned-friend of his late father, Apollo Creed. Creed's widow, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), who adopted Donnie as her son, is proud of him and his accomplishments. His girlfriend, singer-songwriter Bianca Taylor (Tessa Thompson), also accepts his proposal of marriage
On the other side of the world, however, ghosts from his and Rocky's pasts stir. In Kyiv, Ukraine lives Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), the former Soviet Union boxer who killed Apollo Creed during a bout in 1985. After losing to Rocky in a subsequent boxing match, Ivan moved to Ukraine in exile. Seeking an opportunity for redemption and a chance to regain glory, Ivan has been training his son, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), to be a professional boxer. Using training methods that are practically torture, Ivan has turned Viktor into a monster of a boxer who can and has broken his opponents' bodies.
Assisted by American boxing promoter, Buddy Marcelle (Russell Hornsby), Ivan is determined to get Viktor a match against Donnie. For Donnie, it is a chance to settle his late father's affairs, but Rocky wants no part of such a match. Can Donnie's body take the punishment fighting Viktor will inflict? Donnie must also answer this question: why is he really a fighter?
As I said in my review of Creed, I have never watched the movie, Rocky, or any of its sequels in their entirety. I doubt that I have ever watched enough of them to amount to an entire film. I don't like boxing movies, but after watching these Creed films, I am thinking about diving into the Rocky series.
I thought director Ryan Coogler delivered some powerful work in the first Creed, and I think director Steven Caple, Jr. delivers an equally powerful film in Creed II. Although Creed II's story is directly connected to 1985's Rocky IV, it is not as reliant on the Rocky franchise the way Creed, with its multiple intimate connections, was.
Like Coogler did in the first film, Caple gives Sylvester Stallone the space he needs to give one of his best performances as Rocky Balboa in decades. Stallone, who also co-wrote Creed II's screenplay, actually evolves the character of Rocky, showing more about his character and life.
Caple also gets an excellent performance from Michael B. Jordan. Jordan makes Adonis Creed seem genuine; all his hopes and dreams and the things that make him proud or angry resonate strongly in Creed II. I dare say that Jordan is Adonis Creed the way great actors have seemingly made themselves into their characters (for instance, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and as Henry “Indiana” Jones). Simply put, Jordan makes Donnie real.
Tessa Thompson as Bianca Taylor is good, but the character seems as if she is becoming a younger version of Phylicia Rashad's Mary Anne, and Rashad already does the mothering in this film quite well. Dolph Lundgren is nice as Ivan Drago, delivering a layered performance as a fully developed character. I must say, however, that Florian Munteanu is magnificent as Viktor Drago. Viktor does not have many lines, but Munteanu tells the character's story and reveals his personality with his expressive eyes and emotive facial expressions. Viktor Drago needs his own movie.
I did not think that I would like Creed II so much, but I love it. I think its depictions of boxing matches are more intense than those in Creed (shout-out to Creed II's editors: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider, and Paul Harb). The finale between Donnie and Viktor is the cherry on top of Creed II, a movie that can go toe-to-toe with the other boxing movies that I have deigned to watch.
8 of 10
★★★★ out of 4 stars
Thursday, March 2, 2023
2019 Black Reel Awards: 2 nominations: “Outstanding Actor” (Michael B. Jordan) and “Outstanding Score” (Ludwig Göransson)
2019 Image Awards (NAACP): 1 nomination: “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Michael B. Jordan)
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