“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Creed II

CREED was a perfect movie, a miracle that unexpectedly resurrected the ROCKY series. CREED II, coming from a different director and writers, cannot match it. But it’s a solid continuation of beloved characters from both the original series and the new one that brings them to new places in life, with some boxing, training montages and dramatic music in between. Kinda like ROCKY II.

And of course there are other parallels. Adonis (Michael B. Jordan, RED TAILS) becoming champ, getting married and becoming a father, and also being embarrassed to be seen by the media while coming out of the hospital all beat up. But he doesn’t get a tiger jacket, so it’s not a remake of ROCKY II. Mostly it’s a direct sequel to CREED and ROCKY IV.

Before they ever even announced a CREED II, you and I and everybody else were dreaming of the same thing: a sequel where Adonis meets the man who killed his father in the ring, Ivan Drago, and has to fight his son. It’s one of those things that’s so obvious that they sort of had to do it. If the sequel was about anything else, no matter how exciting, you’d just think “Yeah, but why not Ivan Drago?”

But it’s still not predictable, because I always pictured a scenario where Adonis is seeking revenge. I love that the movie does the reverse. Adonis doesn’t go looking for Drago – he’s just minding his own business. It’s Drago that wants revenge on Rocky for defeating him, which we learned ruined his life. The Kremlin officials who pumped all their science into him to make him the ultimate super-Russian may have had their hearts warmed by Rocky’s speech after the match, but Drago was still dumped and exiled to the Ukraine, like “a stray dog,” he says.

As soon as Adonis wins the belt (from Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler [Andrew Ward], wrapping up some business from the first film), a sleazy promoter (Russell Hornsby, FENCES) throws a press conference with Drago (TRIUMPHANTLY RETURNING DOLPH MOTHERFUCKIN LUNDGREN) and his son Viktor (6′ 4″ Romanian boxer Floyd “Big Nasty” Munteanu) demanding a fight.

(I wish they had included some kind of horse shit explaining why he was eligible for a title shot, but oh well.)

Like most ROCKY movies, it’s more about heartfelt character drama than boxing. Adonis’s relationship with his “Unc” Rocky (Sylvester Stallone, DEATH RACE 2000) is still central, and Stallone gives another moving performance as the mumbling, wisdom-and-inspiration-dispensing old goofball. Still blaming himself for Apollo’s death, he refuses to train Adonis for the fight, causing a rift. Adonis moves back to L.A. and trains with Little Duke (Wood Harris, DREDD) at Delphi Boxing Academy.

Adonis fights the younger Drago so early in the movie that it had me questioning how dramatic this structure could get – until I got completely wrapped up in the turmoil of Little Duke having to decide whether or not to throw in the towel, knowing what happened between these men’s fathers when Rocky didn’t do it. Later, when Rocky sees Little Duke at the hospital and tells him he did a good job, it seems like a little camaraderie between people who had to take on that pressure. It’s great to see that character have a larger role in this chapter. He’s the son of Apollo’s (and then Rocky’s) trainer and he rejected Adonis in the first film, so there’s plenty of dramatic echoes going on.

This is definitely the most towel-oriented ROCKY movie. It keeps reminding you of the weight of that decision, and the danger of being too stubborn about it. Much like the first CREED, I love that they wring such serious, grounded drama out of events in the most absurd and cartoonish of the ROCKY sequels.

That might have even come from Stallone this time. After Coogler brought the series back to life Sly got the bug again and at first planned to write and direct this one himself. The final screenplay is credited to Stallone (HOMEFRONT) and Juel Taylor (a p.a. on DATE NIGHT?), story by Cheo Hodari Coker (NOTORIOUS, Luke Cage) and Sascha Penn (Power). It sounds like it was very much developed with the actors to bring their characters where they wanted to go.

Director Steven Caple, Jr. had previously made one indie drama that played at Sundance, just like Coogler (who returns as executive producer). Watching his 2016 debut, THE LAND, it’s easy to see why he was hired – it’s got very good performances from a cast of charismatic young people and it’s as in love with the details of its Cleveland setting as CREED was with Philadelphia. It’s kind of too bad that, with Adonis already being established, more of the story takes place in standard sports venues.

And I think I need to say that this does not have the sort of intoxicating filmatism that Coogler and cinematographer Maryse Alberti came up with last time, with that one-take fight and the way the camera took you into the ring with Creed and all that. (Of course, that can be said about most movies.) The cinematographer this time is Kramer Morgenthau, who shot some indie stuff like HAVOC but also TERMINATOR GENISYS [sic]. They did bring back composer Ludwig Goransson (THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, BLACK PANTHER, DEATH WISH, VENOM), which is crucial. Listen to this triumphant shit:

Though Rocky trained for his Drago match out in the snow, he brings Adonis to train in a desert. It’s a place he says fighters go to be brought back to life, though to me it looks like a place where Sarah Connor goes to regroup with her old militia buddies after escaping the mental hospital.

I love a good training montage, and these are solid, but they’re much more generic than CREED’s. I get goosebumps from the way Ryan Coogler poetically combined the ROCKY iconography with imagery specific to Philly black culture, or when he had Donnie training inside the hospital while Rocky got his cancer treatments. Furthermore, CREED II has a pretty good rap soundtrack but that seems a little bland when measured against the over-the-top rock opera bombast of ROCKY IV’s seven musical montages. You wouldn’t hear a line like “in the warrior’s code there’s no surrender” in CREED II. So, as exciting as the training is, I would say this is an area where they probly could’ve used more eye of the tiger.

But what Caple seems to do well is the all important working with actors to develop their characters. Like Rocky and Adrian, Adonis and Bianca have a natural rapport, making each other laugh, taking care of each other. They’re very likable people. And I notice that the movie tries to show many of the different uses for the word “yo” beyond how Rocky famously used it.

Adonis continues to have strong relationships with Bianca (Tessa Thompson, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS) and his mother. For Bianca he’s learned sign language. The progression of her music career is documented. I’m very glad that they stuck with the first film’s ethic that Bianca understands and supports his need to box. We’ve seen enough stories about women having to walk away after being stressed out by their husband’s addiction to danger. It’s certainly a reasonable position to take, but it’s old hat in movies, so I love Bianca’s ability to be honest about how she feels and then trust and back Donnie’s decisions.

And Phylicia Rashad brings such gravitas to Mary Anne Creed, who is floating toward that point-of-view as well. She even attends one of his fights! It’s good to have a couple strong women here in a movie that’s so much about father-son relationships: Rocky and his son-figure, Rocky and his real son, Adonis and Little Duke trying to live in the shadow of their late fathers, Viktor living his whole life to try to bring respect back to his father. Maybe it’s a good thing Adonis and Bianca didn’t have a boy. But I hope to God in 20 years we get a movie about Amara Creed’s boxing career.

The best thing about this movie in my opinion is Dolph. He was a human specimen in ROCKY IV and now he’s a human. We’ve all seen him in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION and DAY OF RECKONING, so it’s no surprise to us that he is way cooler, way more interesting, way more layered now that he has decades of experience and the wrinkles to prove it. And like in those movies he brings a whole fascinating journey to his character with limited screen time. At first he’s kind of a supervillain. Ominous music plays as he and his son stand and watch tourists run up the ROCKY steps. And when he unexpectedly shows up to talk to Rocky it’s a type of scary that hasn’t really existed in these movies before. But there’s more to him and his son.

Of course I’ve been saying since ROCKY BALBOA that I wanted an IVAN DRAGO. Instead we get the backstory and the arc that fits into this supporting role, but you gotta acknowledge that he gets more dialogue and more development here than he did as the lead villain the first time around. I’m very happy with how they used him here. (More on him in the spoiler section below.)

CREED II may not be an equal to CREED but it is a worthy successor. And since it broke some kind of box office record it seems likely we’ll be seeing more. One of my favorite images in this one is a beautiful passing of the torch from Rocky to Adonis, and now that he’s proven himself it will be interesting to see what kind of new situations and characters he can face without being dependent on the past.

Ah shit who am I fooling, I want Drago to have to train him and we gotta get at least a cameo from Clubber Lang and what if Paulie’s robot gets killed in a robot battle and Adonis has to build a robot that will defeat that robot I mean there are lots of loose threads we gotta consider here.

WIN DONNIE WIN

* * *

There is some stuff that I need to discuss but don’t want to give away to people who haven’t seen the movie. So please, this is your SPOILER ADVISORY. Don’t ruin it for yourself, just read this later.

First of all, I didn’t want to give it away in the review because it was a surprise to me, but I was so happy that Brigitte Nielsen did indeed return as Ludmila Drago. She has less dialogue than in ROCKY IV, but is kind of more important. I would note though that IV left open a possibility that she was an innocent victim being sincere in those press conferences. Now she’s clearly an asshole. But people are complicated. Or they change. Or they suck.

And then I want to say that although some parts of the sequel were not as involving as the entirety of the original, that final fight was such a thrill because I was simultaneously rooting for Adonis to win and truly worried about what would happen to the Dragos. After that scene where Viktor walked out on his mother I was hoping for him to reject them all and fight for himself. And especially after they abandoned him I kept rooting for him to get back up – to go the distance! I really thought maybe they would go to the judges. And for a second I thought Ivan was going to walk out on him and I couldn’t help but blurt out a “No!” I didn’t even see it coming what he really was going to do – what Rocky couldn’t do, what Little Duke couldn’t do, what we never could’ve imagined he would ever do. Usually in the context of this series the fighter would see throwing in the towel as a betrayal, but here it so clearly an act of love and of personal growth. I’m telling you I really had to bust out the warrior’s code to stop myself from crying over Ivan Drago. So that’s what I call a movie right there.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 26th, 2018 at 8:17 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews, Sport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Creed II”

  1. I kinda liked CREED II marginally better than the first one, thanks to Dolph and the subplot and stuff involving Adonis’ baby. That was unexpected and makes future sequels interesting. Also (SPOILER) glad they brought back Milo Ventimiglia. I don’t know what it is about the fights in the ROCKY movies, but I can’t see or feel the movie magic in the climactic bouts, save for ROCKY III. I said pretty much everything I wanted to say about the ROCKY movies in GTD, but for the halibut here’s my list from best to least best of the series:

    ROCKY
    ROCKY BALBOA
    ROCKY II
    ROCKY III
    CREED II
    CREED
    ROCKY IV
    ROCKY V

  2. *SPOILERS* I’m boggled by the lukewarm reviews I’ve been seeing for this – I think even though the filmatism is more workmanlike than Creed and it can’t compete with the “freshness” of the first time, this is a great, great movie. Funnier than most comedies, more exciting than most action movies, full of more powerful tearjerker moments than most Oscar Bait – it’s everything great about the Rocky Series and cements it as GREATEST FRANCHISE EVER. This series is 42 years old and they still found a way to keep us emotionally engaged for 2 hours and come up with a beautiful, satisfying ending that I haven’t quite seen before in a boxing movie. (And the fact that it revolves around the most cartoonish villain of the series making the choice he does – man, I’m getting choked up just thinking about it)

    Creed II also fixes the two biggest problems I had about Creed – 1) I thought the jettisoning of Robert Balboa was weird considering we JUST saw them overcome their relationship issues for two movies in a row. He seemed written out more because they couldn’t figure out what to do with him (understandable), so I’m glad he comes back here (kinda like Michelle Monaghan’s return in MI6 after not being mentioned at all in MI5). 2) It was weird Phylicia Rashad just disappears in the first one, so it’s nice that she returns and gets to play a developed, well-rounded character. Speaking of returns, my theater went apeshit went Brigitte Nielsen showed up. An absolutely perfect way to do a cameo.

    *SIDE NOTE* Am I the only one kinda wishes the shady promoter was the son of Rocky V’s George Washington Duke? I mean, I know it’s hypocritical since I’m always complaining about legacy sequels/prequels like Star Wars always including the same family members over and over and making the universe small, but I dunno, this series is so winning and charming and the character’s not in it much, so I think it would have just been a funny easter egg and not an eye-roller.

  3. SPOILER probably
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    I legit cried when Ivan hugged Viktor at the end of the match. Ivan showing him he doesn’t need to win (or get their honor and wife/mom back) to have his love and respect rib punched me in the feels. I thought I was good but then we get the shot of them jogging together and the look of pride on Ivan’s face and the look of joy and happiness on Viktor’s just picked me up off the floor and said ‘oh I’m not done with you yet!’ And I cried again.

    Yeah I loved this one. Just cause it can’t be a masterpiece like ROCKY, BALBOA, and CREED doesn’t make me hold that against it none.

    My rank: 1, 6, 7, 8, 2, 5, 3, 4 (I love/really like all of the btw)

    ———
    As for where we go from here, I’d like to see CREED start forging its path and stop being in the shadow of ROCKY (maybe). I think I’d even like to see ‘ol Rock sit out the next one (again maybe).

  4. Neal: I agree. I left that out of my comment since I’m a broken record with constantly bringing up other’s negative reviews and really have to stop but since you brought it up…

    I have no clue where the lukewarm reviews are coming from. Even read one that pretty much said after CREED ‘good isn’t good enough’. Naturally there’s the mini flood of ‘this is all Stallone’s fault !’

    And I feel I saw a different movie from them. Also is another case I want to bring up to all the people who say I’m too hard on movies because I just saw a great f***ing movie and loved it and a bunch of others are going ‘Yeah… but was it good ENOUGH?’

  5. I loved CREED but for some reason I can’t get excited about this one. Then I remembered that I wasn’t excited about CREED either even though I’d loved ROCKY BALBOA. I guess it’s fitting for this series that, no matter how many times it comes out on top, it always reverts back to its natural underdog status.

    Reminding myself that Dolph Motherfucking Lundgren is up on the big screen where normal folks can see him is a big step in getting me to the theater, where I will no doubt wonder what my fucking problem was, just like last time.

  6. Majestyk – I actually think Creed II is more of a miracle than the first one – the first one is great but I can’t argue with the complaint that it’s just a Force Awakens-esque soft reboot of the first Rocky right down to the ending (which unfortunately was JUST done in Rocky Balboa). I’m not saying it was on auto-pilot (because it’s a great movie), but it’s pretty much a great concept that writes itself.

    Creed II, on the other hand, has the unenviable task of having a premise that sounds cartoonish and kinda fan-fictiony on paper, a premise that brings back the over-the-top popcorn elements that all Rockys since IV seem to have tried to squash or at least tone down. I mean as much as I smiled at “Creed’s son fights Drago’s son” being the plot, I did have reservations like “oh man I don’t know how they’re going to write themselves out of this box”. And I’m glad to report they did – I think the ending of Creed II is way better than the end of Creed.

    *SPOILERS* Geoffrey – I think what made the ending hit me so hard is that they surprisingly don’t humanize Drago for most of the movie. His opening scene, his Bond Villain-y scene in the restaurant – it honestly kinda rubbed me the wrong way, like “oh, he’s still a giant stoic asshole? That’s….kinda boring….I think they’re kinda dropping the ball here to be honest”. Then he shows a little bit of humanity in the dinner scene but he’s still kind of an asshole. And then that glorious ending happens (and then that wordless shot of them running). And the waterworks flow and I’m like “Ya got me, Sly. Ya got me.”

  7. I love that the guy who made the music for NEW GIRL is getting more and more recognition as composer of great movie scores.

  8. Liked this the first time, loved it the second time. More bloated, bombastic, shameless, and clunky the first, but an incredibly satisfying and emotionally involving journey that never sags. My one complaint is that Creed’s character motivation and relationship to Rocky oscillates abruptly in whatever direction the plot needs, to the point that he can seem erratic or bratty. But MBJ’s performance was so fantastic that he made it work through sheer acting brute force. His performance, the fights, the Dragos and the fathers-sons thread did me in. All the Rocky feeling buttons pushed. You got me. Throw the damn towel!!

  9. The first CREED was good, but I also thought it was a little too restrained by the confines of being a Rocky movie (the FORCE AWAKENS complaint). The sequel is uniquely really quiet. Most of its scenes are dialogue exchanges between only two characters, but–as in the first–there’s a refreshing humanity to it.

    I loved that in the original Bianca has degenerative hearing loss and it bears no real impact on the story. Hollywood movies usually only deal with disability in pitying ways that lead up to a big tragic moment. While this takes that else somewhere else, it’s still at the service of what’s essentially an openminded, openhearted sports film. I liked it.

  10. SPOILERS:

    Creed II: Rocky VIII: Rocky IV Part II is kind of a remake of Rocky III and I thought it was great! Specifically for the Drago storyline like you mentioned Vern. When Rock walks into the restaurant and Drago is sitting at the table with his back to us something in my head went OFF. Like I all of a sudden realized just what the fuck was actually happening. It got me sooo pumped. I don’t think we fully appreciate it just yet, but these movies that span so many years for the most part have done great job at maintaining a decent to great level of quality. There’s just so much history there that when moments from 30 years ago are referenced, you can remember (watching) them happening 30 years ago and it just feels like it touches real, pure nostalgia in a way that the new Star Warses don’t even come close to. Just little moments here and there, the right music cue…Jesus, this movie got me to well up hard several times but especially when he casually says “Miss ya” at Adrian’s grave early on and and at the end when he tells Robert that his son “looks like his grandmother.”

    Oi, MY GOD :(

  11. (I also want to say that I thought this new director did a great job of shooting the fights and punches had a good solid FEEL to them when they landed. Some very nice camera swoops tucked in there, I wonder where it ranks on your action clarity chart Vern)

  12. Stallone’s late-period Rocky 6 through Creed 2 Balboa pushes some primal daddy issues button for me, no doubt. My dad was a blue collar dude who died too young, and this Rocky is definitely an idealized archetypal surrogate dad figure for me. Always has been, I suppose. Then you throw in Adonis Creed’s naked vulnerability with his daddy/ abandonment issues, and add in the Drago stuff for good measure…I’m putty in this film’s methodically taped hands. It’s more than that, but these films tap into my raw emotion in a singular way.

  13. Yeah I’m just a few months away from having a son of my own, so I was in the prime place to take a few metaphorical punches to the father-son plexus with CREED II.

  14. This one is pretty good, but it’s real high on the melodrama and some iffy storylines (the baby story is pretty heartwrenching at points, but what’s the point of all of it ultimately?) that I think put it behind the first CREED and probably ROCKY I & III.

    As unnecessary as the Rocky has cancer plotline in CREED was, Stallone definitely wrote more emotional scenes for himself in this one, and he’s not going to fade into the background. Instead we’re going to get stuff like how he doesn’t get into the ring because he doesn’t want the spotlight or something, but we’re going to focus heavily on how generous unc Balboa is. Why does he still have an issue with his son after ROCKY BALBOA? Is Adonis not paying him anything? What’s the deal with him still living in a tiny apartment? And why exactly does he refuse to train Adonis for the first fight? Lots of questions where we don’t really get satisfactory answers. (The only real suggestion is because he knows the new Drago will stylistically murder Adonis, as he later says, but lies about that because…he doesn’t want to hurt Creed’s feelings or something?)

  15. Gun to my head, here’s my rankings of the series at this moment:

    ROCKY, ROCKY III, CREED, ROCKY IV, CREED 2, ROCKY BALBOA, ROCKY II, ROCKY V

    I’m squishy about the middle 3, but the top 2 and bottom 2 are strongly set for me. It seems like people really like Rocky II, but it takes way too long to get going (Adrian in the hospital is agony) and Rocky’s arc in that movie is less appealing to me than in the first movie–in the second he’s having a moan for a large chunk.

  16. BrianB, I don’t disagree with your criticisms. I made some similar comments at the end of the CREED 1 review comment thread (couldn’t wait for this one). There’s too many plot points to cover, too many disparate threads to chase, so it ends up feeling over-stuffed, and nothing has enough time to really percolate and feel earned. As a result, Adonis often seems to be overreacting and doing things like a total WTF hothead, even and especially with Rocky. Like, that escalated quickly kind of vibes. Still, the emotional wallop of the performances, father-son/child dynamics, and the typical Rocky montage/fight beats executed competently were more than enough to carry the day. I really liked Viktor Drago as an expectation-subverting villain, who brings the Drago energy to things but has a lot going on under the surface. He and Lundgren both do some nice, understated nonverbal work. So, even though it’s intellectually and filmatically inferior to CREED, it’s bursting with the heart and emotion of a Rocky film. I know it will have very high re-watch value for me. It’s like 3 or 4 that way, for me. There’s any number of things I could stack up on paper and complain about, but none of them adds up to anything even remotely equaling my sheer enjoyment or emotional investment or desire to re-watch. Not the same Oscar-bait-level auteurism of a ROCKY 1 or CREED 1, but in many ways more viscerally satisfying and very strong as a hangout, re-watch film.

    ROCKY II is probably my least-re-watched film in the whole canon. I need to give it another try. Mainly, I remember the final fight, the chicken chase, and Rocky really struggling with those commercials (which he apparently got the hang of by III).

  17. I hope this leads to Dolph getting more onscreen roles. He and Van Damme are capable of strong dramatic performances.

  18. I agree having the first fight in the middle really shook things up. Like we all know this is gonna happen, but getting to it early let’s the second half push beyond our expectations for the Creed/Drago grudge match. Also sort of the Rocky III structure. He didn’t lose the title but we know he wasn’t winning that fight and he knows it too.

    I fully support an Amara Creed spin-off.

    Creed II does have my pet peeve of sports movies and real life. Adonis is so insecure he responds to any taunt. He’s smart enough to know this is a promoter’s wet dream but Buddy Marcelle basically says, “What are you, chicken?” And Adonis just jumps at it. Same again Ivan Drago says one thing and riles Adonis all up.

    As much as we want to see this family confrontation, where does this end? Any time anybody questions Adonis he’ll fight them? Someone will always come looking for attention and most wont be smart fights to accept.

    It’s almost as if people who solve their problems by getting into fights don’t think things through or possess emotional maturity. It’s not just physical people though. Intellectual people are just as fragile and perhaps more egotistic. I guess real maturity is understanding haters gonna hate and don’t let them distract you.

  19. II is my favorite one and I go to bat for V so my series ranking is probably a shambles by this point.

  20. Felix: here, here. Not too long ago at work I had run to Van Damne’s defense as two co-workers where making fun of him about how he couldn’t act and they were puzzled as to why he’s trying to ‘come back.’

    Also Dolph is in next month’s AQUA PERSON so hopefully that’ll give a one-two punch to start getting better roles.

  21. The Dragos were so great I wish there had been more of them.

    There’s a BTS video on YouTube of Stallone and Dolph shooting an old man fight scene in what looks like an airport or train station – wonder what that scene was about? Must have been cut out.

    Any of you guys see that one?

  22. Looks to me like that cut scene was supposed to be taking place at the hospital reception area. SPOILERS
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    After their first fight.

    I like that the scene exists in the webs, but it was probably a good choice to cut it. The Adrian’s scene with Dolly and Soy was enough, and as Rocky tells Adonis, “It’s your time now, kid.”

  23. Dolly and Soy … Oh, autocorrect, marry me?!

    Dolph and Sly.

  24. Fred, I think part V deserves more love than it gets. I particularly applaud it for how it tries to re-ground Rocky after the triumphalism of IV. There’s a mix of things I like and don’t like. George Washington Duke is a good case study of both. Fun and memorable but also cartoonish and silly and tonally out of step with the somber, trying to be grounded rest of the film. The film is slow to get going and the overall tone and aesthetic is a bit all over the place. Kind of a weird melding of IV and I trying to have it a bit of both ways. We’ve got these tender flashbacks with Mickey and then we’ve got Snap doing their techno hip hop thing. I love the street fight though, and there is plenty that makes this one worth watching and rewatching. I didn’t bear no bell!

  25. This movie was way better than it had any business being. If you read the script alone, you would probably roll your eyes every other page. Some of the things that come out of Rocky’s mouth are just ridiculous. Actually, wasn’t he supposed to be on death’s door last movie? I actually was wondering in the first 10 minutes if Rocky was ghost that only Adonis could see. Like Bruce Willis. The whole training in the desert and Drago insisting the fight be in Russia (even though he is the challenger and Adonis could take another fight anyway) and Tessa Thompson coming out singing and the crowd rooting for Adonis at the end. All silly stuff, but you deal with it and accept it because it is well done and all the actors are fantastic and so damn charismatic.

    SPOILER

    My jaw dropped when Brigitte Nielsen came on screen. Just the greatest. And the second she did, I knew Milo Ventimiglia would show up as Rocky’s son. Seeing all these people gave me more goose bumps than seeing Han and Chewie in the Force Awakens, and I am a ten times bigger Star Wars fan than I am a Rocky fan.

  26. Just curious but i thought Sly and Brigitte hate each others guts.

  27. Either their hate for each other was overestimated by the world or they had a case of “We are too old to hold a grudge that even prevents us from working together for a few days”.

    DOLLY & SOY sound like the greatest characters that never appeared on PEE-WEE’S PLAYHOUSE.

  28. JeffG, I thought Rocky was a ghost in that first scene, too! I think it was where his character was in the last movie combined with the Ben Kenobi convenience of when he shows up and how unnaturally close-talking they are in that conversation.

  29. I guess what I’m trying to say is. If Dolly can change. And Soy can change. Anybody can change.

  30. caruso_stalker217

    November 29th, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    This had basically everything I wanted out of a CREED sequel. It made me want to weep in a manly fashion. I might actually like this more than the first CREED.

  31. So Sly says this was his last time playing Rocky Balboa. I actually think a Creed III without Rocky could go in interesting creative directions. But then a Creed IV where he needs his old trainer again.

    So far Sly has never been able to let his characters go. If he is heading towards retirement, the Creedverse is in good hands now, but let’s be honest. We all remember 1990 and 2006.

  32. I want a proper final Rocky appearance. It would be weird to just hear about how he died offscreen a la Adrian or Paulie, oh-by-the-way style, especially if we’re speaking of a sequel that’s coming out in the next couple years. Besides, I think Stallone is full of it about being done.

  33. He said it was *probably* his last time. I’m sure if they want him back all they would have to do is come up with a good idea to get him on board.

    I’m not sure what to hope for. On one hand, he’s obviously a huge part of what I love about these movies. On the other hand, I love how this one ends things, and that would be a fitting goodbye to the character much like ROCKY BALBOA was before they made these. I suppose they could have Adonis forging his own destiny without saying Rocky is dead, but that would be sad in its own way.

    It would be very ROCKY III if Rocky died and Drago decided to train Adonis. Whatever happens, I want some redemption for Drago in some future movie. Maybe a spinoff, maybe a later sequel, but it should happen.

  34. Fair points. I’m okay with this being the end of Rocky, but I don’t want there to be a CREED 3 passing mention of how he died. Just let CREED 2 be his walk off into the sunset, or give him a cameo. I do think there is a need to pivot away from Rocky vs. shoehorning him in there and having him stealing the scene, but I want the character treated well. So far, so good, I guess, so, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

    +1 for more Drago. I vote for spin-off.

  35. Stallone has thrown around Rocky being gone ever since Rocky IV, I think, so imo it’s being either very generous or very gullible to think he’d do it after this moive. As I pointed out in my earlier comment, and I’m sure anybody who held another impression but rewatches this movie with less bias will see, he hams it up and hams his absence up. It’s great in a lot of ways. His acting is stellar for it all. But he also wrote this for himself.

    I’m curious what did people emotionally connect with for the younger Drago? Ivan I got and thought Dolph was fantastic, maybe the best overall performance in the movie, whereas Viktor didn’tstrike me quite the same way. But maybe I’m being harsh because it felt like the guy was pushing hard to emote in his scenes where he had to, when he’s not a seasoned actor.

  36. SPOILERS IF YOUVE NOT SEEN:

    I loved this one – I don’t think it is as good as Creed 1, but I think it matches it on the fights so that’s all good. It doesn’t, like, sparkle visually in the way Creed does but I can’t criticise it too much cos there was nothing all that wrong with it, and I like the way it pays stuff off from IV – swapping out the snow for a desert and stuff like that.

    I also really liked that the big musical cue during the location switch for the training section (don’t know the song, but the big non-rap song in it. I’ll need to look it up) was phenomenal. And the auditory equivalent of swapping the snow for the desert, in terms of being the complete reverse of IV’s soundtrack aesthetics, while still matching it in the epic stakes. I will say though that the rap soundtrack really ain’t as good here, Mike Will Made It or whoever dropped a ball a bit I reckon, a Rocky movie is permission to go at it much harder than he did here.

    The big mid-movie bout here is a potential new favourite in the series for me, certainly for one that isn’t even a finale. I found it terrifying in a way I don’t think I’ve ever found a Rocky fight before. It gets right something I think Rocky IV’s finale got wrong, which is that in Rocky IV I’ve always thought they misjudge the amount of headshots Rocky should take. I think Drago punches him like 100 times directly in the face in that one, and it makes it feel a bit absurd to me – even given the tone of the film overall – cos his brain would be soup. It’d be coming out his ears. Every hit felt like it counted here.

    The big film this has to get right is the Dragos though, and it does. Dolph’s two final scenes in this are some of my favourite work of his career, and I love how respectful they were of a character that a lot of people would’ve approached as a relic or a punchline. Which is the mantra of the Rocky series as a whole really. They take seriously characters that other people don’t.

    The big criticism I have is a problem that I guess is directorial. It’s only a few scenes early on, but what took me out of the film early on is that I think Adonis really shouts as Bianca too much. I know they had MBJ raise his voice to make talky scenes dramatic but it got me thinking that if I shouted at my gf like that about random shit not her fault she’d cry. Him brushing past her in the kitchen felt a bit too disrespectful to me as well.

    I think they lucked out on the casting cos Jordan overall stops Adonis from feeling like too much of a brat, but I think Coogler’s lighter-touch was missing in those scenes in particular. With a less talented performer in the frame I’m not sure I’d really be rooting for him all that much. I think they got too caught up in Adonis’ internal drama and struggles that they didn’t pay attention to how the scene reads more broadly. You shouldn’t shout at your partners that much IMO, just my opinion. But at least Bianca gets a lot to do elsewhere, and they didn’t sideline her at all.

    Overall though, I think this is great. Probably in the top half of the series, and it’s a classic series so that’s all good.

  37. caruso_stalker217

    December 1st, 2018 at 10:52 am

    I must be the only one here who actually preferred the fight scenes in this over CREED.

    People point out the one-shot fight in that film and that is a well-made scene and all, but it didn’t connect with me on any real level aside from an appreciation of the filmatistic style.

    As steven said, the fight with Drago halfway through CREED II is very tense. There is a feeling of impending doom throughout (the film is only half over after all). It did everything for me that CREED UNO couldn’t, which is make me feel like I was in the ring with these two dudes punching each other. And without the benefit of intricate camera-work. Probably the flashiest part of that fight is that POV shot when Drago has Adonis in the corner and is punching the fuck out of him. And it worked.

    I guess the difference between the two films for me was that in CREED I was less invested in the actual fights than I was in the rest of the film with the talking and stuff. In CREED II I was invested in all the talking stuff PLUS the fights really worked for me.

    Add in a bit of Stallone’s cornball aesthetic and you’ve got a genuine ROCKY picture.

  38. BrianB, actually since III!

    Vern, they actually shot more of a Drago redemption. Maybe it’ll be on the DVD.

    Why would they say Rocky died? That’s a big conclusion to jump to. They’d just make a Creed movie with no mention of him or say he stayed with robert or just was busy running Adrian’s. He was planning on retiring from training.

    If they were gonna say Rocky died I’m sure Sly would want to play that scene. I think it’s a little obvious but if they wanted to do it I’m sure it would be good. Better than if it happened in V at least.

  39. Yeah, I did jump to the conclusion. It would be strange to have series move forward with Rocky out of it. On some level, he and Adonis are family, and Rocky’s still healthy, so it would be jarring for him to be out of the picture for no good plot reason. He may want to retire from training, but he would at least put in an appearance of a phone call.
    I did not interpret the “it’s your time, kid” line with any sense of finality, so either dies offscreen at some point in the timeline of just inexplicably never had another onscreen encounter with Adonis, even though he’s a healthy guy, a primary surrogate father/uncle figure to Adonis, and godparent to his kid. Doesn’t make sense to have him he alive but never appear in another film, unless the next film picks up the years after this one like how 6 picked up after 5 or Creed picked up after 6.

  40. Loved it. I went into it with high expectations and still came out with them beyond satisfied. Only 4 issues

    1) The goof where the announcer calls Viktor Drago Ivan Drago.

    2) This is the first one without a real Rocky speech. Just Rocky blurbs.

    3) Rocky and Robert seeming estranged made no sense considering the good terms they were on at the end of ROCKY BALBOA.

    4) The FIGHT NIGHT video game like slow mo was too distracting.

    However everything else made up for it especially all the continuity pick ups from the entire franchise (like did you guys notice Stitch Duran on the corner during the final match?).

    It was a pretty good remix of II and III. I found the ending very poignant for all characters. Like I totally want a movie about the Dragos now. Also if this really is the end for Rocky I couldn’t think of a more graceful exit. Good on Sly to get to write it himself. However Sly did also once say he was walking away from Rambo and well…

  41. Oh and that score never fails to still deliver the goosebumps. Hope they’re still using it when Adonis eventually trains Logan Balboa.

  42. caruso_stalker217

    December 2nd, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    This might be the GODFATHER PART II of ROCKY spin-offs, in my opinion.

  43. It’s true that Rocky and Robert were on good terms at the end of ROCKY BALBOA, but in CREED he said he hadn’t seen him in a long time. They had to make him have no one left in his life so that he’d really have a need for a relationship with Adonis.

  44. caruso_stalker217

    December 3rd, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Yeah, I interpreted that less of a falling out between Rocky and his son and more of drifting apart due to Robert moving away to start his own life and just kind of losing touch over the years.

  45. Vern, I think you mean how Stallone saw how daddy issues and struggling with kids was going to be a big theme for this film and he noticed that the director liked, and he was like “hey you know if you want to show another side of things and deepen this idea in the movie, you know, why don’t we put in a scene or two of Rocky estranged and then reuniting with his real kid, not just his adopted nephew figure, am I right?” I would strongly bet that’s actually how that scene got in there.

    If Stallone wasn’t so likeable as this character, there’s a pretty good argument, if you take the franchise continuity seriously, Rocky is kind of a douche in this movie. He reconciled with his son before but he’s outta touch with him now, why? Who knows. He refuses to train Creed for the first Drago fight despite it being a huge part of his legacy for why that first fight even is appealing. And when refusing to train Adonis, he possibly lies to him by telling Adonis he should smoke Drago when really he thinks Drago is a nightmare style matchup. (Never mind how when it comes to Adonis’ daughter he will thankfully be honest and tell him that you’ve got to be responsible and plan for if “bad” outcomes happen too.) He doesn’t go to the fight at all. After Donny gets his ass beat in a fight where Rocky didn’t corner him, he tells the other trainer that he did the best he could training Adonis, which is clearly not true at all. And if he really didn’t want to repeat Rocky IV and help Adonis’ chances of winning by something other than a knockout, he probably would’ve objected to the 2nd fight being in Russia.

  46. I’m surprised to see a couple people here questioning why Rocky didn’t want to train Adonis for the first fight against Drago. I don’t need to explain to you that he had doubts about Adonis’s father fighting Viktor’s father, and then was in his corner, and listened to him about not throwing in the towel, and then watched him die, and has now spent decades without his friend and with the guilt of what it did to his friend’s wife and son. So… I mean how is there any question about his response to this situation? Any response besides wanting nothing to do with it would be ridiculous, in my opinion.

  47. That answer seems bogus because a) the fight game plays on rivalries and hatred and Rocky knows this, and b) Rocky didn’t woe is me, he literally went “there’s no easy way out” and fought daddy Drago for revenge and redemption himself. Now he’s not going to help the kid who he helped make an orphan fight a guy with largely the same style as the guy who killed his father? Instead he thinks the best response to to refuse to train the kid and lie about how the guy is raw, when really Drago is an awful style matchup for Adonis’ natural tendency to get into brawls, but Rocky has the knowledge because he went into a war vs. daddy Drago in Russia, but instead of training him or going to the fight, he’s going to watch from his restaurant bar. Yeah, he’s kind of a dick. Even if you assume he means well, he basically plans to be an absentee father figure for a big portion of the movie (which I guess is another reason to sneak in that Rocky and son scene).

  48. To me, Rocky reacted in a more human and believable way than what you’re saying would be better, and also in the way that leads to a more dramatic story.

  49. caruso_stalker217

    December 7th, 2018 at 1:14 am

    The Rocky in CREED II couldn’t possibly out-dick the Rocky in ROCKY V, so the whole question of “Is Rocky in CREED II a dick or not?” is moot in my opinion.

    Anyway, the answer is no. No he is not.

  50. This is the Dolph thread so I’ll put it here and say that AQUAMAN starring Dolph Lundgren is goofy af and all the better for it. If you don’t mind or like campiness and corniness this one should have your number. It’s not afraid to go silly and really silly at that.

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