Two men beating each other up doesn’t sound like the most wholesome of backdrops for an inspiring story about family and honour—but Creed II allows us to suspend our aversion to ‘fisty-cuffs’ for some worthwhile lessons about who’s in your corner and what’s worth fighting for.
Continuing in the legacy of the Rocky franchise and following on from 2015’s Creed, Adonis Creed (son to Apollo) is back under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa going up against Viktor Drago (son of Ivan Drago), in an ‘all guns blazing’ fight for family honour and identity.
To catch you up if you never saw Rocky 4: Ivan Drago is Rocky’s Russian nemesis and the man that killed Apollo Creed in the ring. So it’s a big deal to see Adonis and Viktor go head to head, with every likelihood someone will lose an eye.
Yes, it’s a blokey movie, and slow-motion shots of jaws being hit sideways will make you cringe and reconsider ever trying boxercise, but bigger than these guys’ biceps, are their hearts.
Adonis is a little older, a little wiser, and more aware of his commitment to being there for his mum and girlfriend. The tension between becoming a family man and defending the memory of his father is real. Adonis has to decide whether it’s worth it – and even though Hollywood dictates that he has to say ‘it is’, Adonis has to become more than just a hothead boxer. Rocky is all about considering the risks, and tries to help Adonis see what the costs of his choices could be.
Drago also has his own battles to face, with Dad Ivan telling him their family pride is on the line after Ivan’s social banishment after the fight of ’85. Viktor has pretty much been raised to defeat Adonis, and Ivan expects him to restore their family’s status as Russian icons. Viktor may be huge, but he’s not a complete monster.
A lot of the movie is spent in the ring (and in creating the requisite training montage), but every part of Creed II is about how to live a life where you’ll win. It can sound elitist and competitive, but like anyone who’s ever been enrolled in Scouts or soccer to learn life values, that’s what we get in Creed II.
We learn the importance of choosing your team. As the saying goes, ‘show me your five closest friends and I’ll show you your future’. Who Adonis (and Drago) surround themselves with and get coaching from is 100% going to determine how they’ll perform in the fight. It’s not just about their physical conditioning, but their mental motivation. ‘Defending your family’ and ‘fighting for glory’ are two very different things.
Preparation is also paramount. Whether you’re going for a goal in sports, or dreaming of becoming a corporate CEO, the outcome rests on the steps you take to get ready for the role. We know pride comes before a fall, and sometimes that pride can be us believing we’re good enough not to have to train and improve.
Creed II proves there’s plenty of life in this franchise yet, and that even our fiercest opponents probably just need a hug.
Creed II is in cinemas now, rated M with adult themes and sports-related violence.