By STACY & DAX BAUER
Is there any fight left in you? Then you’d better “come correct!” This is the metaphorical call and response asked of boxer Adonis Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan), as he comes face-to-face with opponent Viktor Drago. Adonis goes toe-totoe avenging his father Apollo’s death at the hands of Drago’s trainer and father, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, where screenplay credit is due) is enmeshed again as trainer and mentor, if at first reluctantly. His hesitation lies with being party to any further potential tragedy at the hands of the Dragos, who seem hellbent on winning above all things, even by dirty means.
As the eighth film in the Rocky franchise, one might think we’d be tired of him by now, but he still has palpably more to give, and we’re happily chewing at the ropes. The film has a strong theme of “family” and “legacy,” which audiences can find appealing at such a festive time of year.
Director Steven Caple Jr. does an effective job of warming the heart, in that regard, by further developing the love story between Adonis and his Dear Bianca (Tessa Thompson). There’s something for both the women and men here, as the fight scenes literally had me on the edge of my seat, too. I was emotionally invested from the (literal) jump, willingly along for the entire ride, to see if good really could overcome evil, once again.
Notable is the fact that one does not have to be familiar with any of the movies in the Rocky franchise to enjoy and appreciate; Creed II stands alone on merit all its own. Win or lose, it leaves you feeling privileged and triumphant for the fight. This is simply for having borne witness to and been along for the journey. It’s illustrative of the fighting spirit found in each one of us, if we are only willing to dig deep enough to rise to the occasion.
“Creed II” is rated 83% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with a 88% Audience Score. It runs 130 minutes and is rated PG-13.
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