Verdict: Michael B. Jordan packs a solid punch in this knockout sequel.

Back in 2015, the legendary Rocky saga got its comeback to the big screen with director Ryan Coogler in Creed. He took an iconic franchise that was past its time and gave it a nifty new look. With the son of Rocky’s competitor-turned-friend Apollo Creed, he won over critics and audiences with a rightful return of the boxing saga. In Creed 2, director Steven Caple Jr. takes on the task of filling in Coogler’s big shoes as Michael B. Jordan reprises the role of Adonis Creed.

What’s Creed 2 About:

We’re brought back into boxer Adonis Creed’s (Michael B. Jordan) life just as he is about to receive the crowning glory of being the World Heavyweight Champion. As he revels in his accomplishment with his fiance Bianca (Tessa Thompson), he has little time to celebrate as Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) comes back into the picture. He was the ruthlessly aggressive fighter that literally killed his father Apollo Creed in the ring only to famously lose to Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Now, he wants to get his glory back through his tenaciously trained son Viktor (Florian Munteanu). Towering over Adonis, Viktor challenges him to a fight for the Heavyweight belt in a return of the legendary Creed vs. Drago rumble.

What Works:

Director Steven Caple Jr. does justice to Ryan Coogler’s brilliant prequel. Creed 2 is both traditional and fresh, nostalgic and contemporary, and overall makes its presence felt. The script by Sylvester Stallone and first-time writer Juel Taylor, with writing credits to Cheo Hodari Choker and Sascha Penn as well, has all the smooth moves of the first film with tons of surprise punches.

Michael B. Jordan really proves why he’s one of Hollywood’s most promising leading men. Encouraged by a powerfully complex script, his performance is strong and emotional as he grapples with the uncertainty of what kind of man, fighter, and father he wants to be. Moreover, his chemistry with Tessa Thompson is palpable. Her fiery yet gentle performance as an independent woman brings one of the best love interests to the franchise. Stallone, on the other hand, pulls subtle and heartfelt punches as Rocky Balboa. The fact that he is still impressing 42 years after he first appeared in the role is no easy task. Creed 2 also sees the comeback of Rocky’s most iconic antagonist – Ivan Drago. Drago brings up his son Viktor in brutal circumstances, pushing him to defeat Creed. As Victor strives for success and even acknowledgment from his mother, this film gives him a heartfelt humanity.

Finally, Creed 2 brings in an overarching dilemma of masculinity and vulnerability between men who are trained to be tough in the ring. All of the complex characters interact with each other to form a rousing narrative that, at first, simmers with tension and emotion and then explodes in an intense final fight.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Although it doesn’t reach the absolute glory of Coogler’s Creed, there’s nothing else that we can criticize about Creed 2.

Why You Should Watch:

One of the film’s dialogues describes it perfectly – “The belt ain’t enough, you need a narrative.” Creed 2 is not just about the fight, it goes deeper as the tough fighter has to face his emotions and expectations.