“Creed II” Review: Redemption and hip-hop highlight this sequel.

The latest installment in the “Rocky” uppercuts expectations.

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“Creed II” Review: Redemption and hip-hop highlight this sequel.

Adam Pigott, Freelance Writer

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(This story was originally published in print on Nov. 29, 2018)

Adonis Creed, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, came a long way in the first “Creed” film. He has journeyed from juvenile hall and prison to becoming the light-heavyweight boxing champion of the world. “Creed II” director Steven Caple Jr. has done a tremendous job picking up where the first film’s director, Ryan Coogler, left off. Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone, has improved greatly since his battle with cancer in the first movie and Adonis is still with his girlfriend Bianca, portrayed by Tessa Thompson. As the film continues, we discover the main fight of the film is intimately personal, as Adonis’ opponent is Viktor Drago, played by Florian Munteanu. Viktor is the son of Ivan Drago, who is once again played by Dolph Lundgren. The elder Drago is the man who killed Adonis’s father in “Rocky IV.”

DRIVE FOR VENGEANCE

It is clear that Adonis’ fight with Viktor Drago is deeply emotional.

“They killed my pops,” Adonis says in one scene. “I can’t let that slide.”

“Creed II” profoundly highlights the downsides that come alongside the pursuit for vengeance. During their first fight, Adonis’ judgement and skills are clouded by his emotional desire for revenge, and as a result, he does not perform as well as his skills would otherwise allow. To put it simply, Adonis comes to the realization that he must completely rectify his mindset and rebuild himself as a fighter if he wants to win against Viktor.

THE RIVAL

What makes the situation more difficult for Adonis is Viktor’s obvious advantages over him. Drago is basically a fictional version of current Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov. He is an absolute monster of a human, with strength, speed and boxing skills that some would consider inhumane. There are other boxing matches sprinkled in throughout the film, and the comparison with Khabib Nurmagomedov becomes apparent as the audience sees Viktor decimate the opponents he faces.

THE SOUNDTRACK

Lastly, the soundtrack in “Creed II” reaches nothing short of magnificence by mixing different genres. It throws in a folk track by singer and songwriter Bon Iver called “Do You Need Power?” as well as a few R&B tracks.

However, the most dominant genre in the soundtrack is hip-hop. The soundtrack pulls in contributions from talents such as Lil Wayne and Gucci Mane, who dominate the hip-hop scene in the South, A$AP Rocky, one of the biggest faces of the hip-hop scene in the East Coast, and West Coast legends Kendrick Lamar, YG and Schoolboy Q. The album’s production is also handled by veteran hip-hop producer Mike WiLL Made-It, who has worked with hip-hop artists from coast to coast.

The soundtrack perfectly captures the hostile and arrogant feelings throughout the film and draws the audience deeper into the story. In the track “Kill ‘em with Success,” Schoolboy Q raps, “Can’t be average. Got success, needed more. Made the Forbes, needed more.” These lyrics capture Viktor Drago’s mindset perfectly, as his mission in the film is to be on top. In the track “Fight,” YG raps, “Hit you with that left, right, left, right, him in the chest right.” Lyrics like these that capture the built up animosity between Drago and Creed.

FINAL THOUGHTS

“Creed II” not only does an excellent job of showing us how much the characters have developed, but it also sheds light on the truth on what the revenge mindset does to the heart, body and mind. The soundtrack takes it to a whole new level when it comes to capturing the feelings and pace of the film. As a result of this nearly perfect blend, “Creed II” is an impressive film for both drama and boxing fans.

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“Creed II” Review: Redemption and hip-hop highlight this sequel.