Ivan Drago, a name to strike fear into the heart of any Carl Weathers fan. It’s been 33 years since Drago (Dolph Lundgren) killed Weather’s Apollo Creed and earned himself a beating at the hands of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, see our interview on page 30). Now Drago is back for vengeance with his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu), who has his sights on Creed’s son Adonis ‘Donnie’ Johnson (Michael B. Jordan).
While we’re sure what happens next is entirely familiar with anyone with even the faintest knowledge of the Rocky franchise, we are still looking forward to watching Donnie and his mentor Balboa navigating battles outside the ring while preparing for a fight within it.
The first installment in this new spin-off franchise, 2015’s Creed, made a name for director Ryan Coogler (who went on to Marvel’s Black Panther) and a star of Jordan (who also appeared in Coogler’s Marvel movie). This is new director Steven Caple Jr.’s biggest project to date, and it doesn’t look like he’s made too many risky moves in taking the story on.
Of course, that means most of the real action happens outside the ring, just like in the 1976 original. It helps that Stallone is on co-writing duty and that Lundgren’s Drago is no longer Soviet stereotype. Instead, both Dragos have more humility and a backstory that gives the characters credibility.
It means we’re not watching a one-sided tale this time around, adding more ebb and flow to the relationships.
This time, Johnson has to face up to the memories of his father’s brutal killing as well as the challenge ahead of him, but Stallone’s writing seems to get it just right.
There appears to be a bit of cinematographic style lost along with Coogler, and the storyline is a lot more “Hollywood” than the 2015 effort. However, with Stallone looking like he’s preparing to bow out of the role that made his name, and Jordan’s continued brilliance, we’re looking forward to watching the predictable story unfold. Paul Clifford
WHAT IS IT...
Our favourite boxers are back for more
For a drama that pulls no punches
Steven Caple Jr.
Nov 29 (18TC)