Creed II hits blu-ray and DVD today from Warner Brothers, and it continues to prove it is its own beast, while embracing the Rocky-universe in which it is set. And this film does so even more than the first film, because, well this time, it’s personal.
Tying in directly with Rocky IV – you know the one, where Rocky (Sly Stallone) fights the Russians for world peace. It brings back Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) the nemesis from that movie, who is now coaching his own son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu – a hulking beast of a fighter) in the pugilistic arts to redeem himself, and all that he has lost.
And who can forget that Drago was the cause of Apollo Creed’s (Carl Weathers) demise, in the ring?
So when Adonis Creed (Micheal B. Jordan who has been a name to watch since Fruitvale Station) steps into the ring this time, will it be for the game, for himself or for his father?
Stallone has transitioned nicely to the Mickey (Burgess Meredith) – Paulie (Burt Young) role of coach, and counselor, and the pair of them work really well together. And while Jordan’s Creed is deservedly the centerpiece and lead of the film, there are some very gentle (and some brutal) and well-earned character moments for Stallone’s Rocky (as well as Lundgren’s Drago) and the rest of the cast as they story plays out.
Rounding out the cast is the always brilliant Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Milo Ventimiglia (returning as Rocky’s son – Robert). There is a solid combination of drama, humor, and of course, sports, as Adonis finds his way through his first sequel.
This is definitely a strong Rocky film (and I love the use of familiar musical motifs in the score), and a solid follow-up to Ryan Coogler’s Creed. Having said that, there are no surprise punches in the film, it goes exactly the way you now it will… the Rocky films have a formula after all (including the need for a training montage), but it is the way the story is told, performed, edited, choreographed – each fight has to tell a story, and advance the plot, and this film does that.
There are themes at work though, fathers, sons, expectations and legacies and they are all given their due, even as the film moves along at a bracing clip. I like seeing Stallone step back from the lead role, and into a supporting position, he does it well, and Jordan captivates with is presence onscreen.
The extras rounding out the blu-ray presentation include featurettes that look at the way fathers and sons influence the characters in the film, the hunt for Viktor, the women featured in the film, and an enjoyable, albeit brief look at the Rocky Legacy.
Creed II is available on blu-ray and DVD today from Warner Brothers. And this rematch is worth the watch…. and the wait.