“Creed 2” is directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone and is the 8th film in the “Rocky” franchise. The film sees Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and Dolph Lundgren all return to their respective roles while Florian Munteanu joins the cast. Although this sequel was announced in 2016, Ryan Coogler, the previous director, was on board to direct this but did he and Jordan’s involvement in Marvel’s 2018 mega hit “Black Panther”, Caple Jr. was bought in as director while the cast remained as is.

The film picks up 3 years after the previous one. Donny Creed (Jordan) wins the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World and becomes a household name with his mentor and boxing legend Rocky Balboa (Stallone) & girlfriend Bianca (Thompson) at his side. All is well until a new challenger comes forth with a very dark and dangerous background with both Donny & Rocky. A Russian bruiser named Victor Drago (Munteanu) is coming for the title and with him is his father Ivan (Lundgren) the man who murdered Donny’s father & Rocky’s friend, Apollo 30 years ago. Donny must train harder than ever not only to retain his title but not to suffer the same fate as his father.

Ryan Coogler did an amazing job with the first film and it’s kind of disappointing that he didn’t do this film. However, it doesn’t mean that this was a bad film, it just means that you can see the difference in tone between the 2 directiors. Michael B. Jordan once again delivers a great performance as does Sylvester Stallone. Tessa Thompson also is great even though I felt her role got somewhat smaller than the previous film. Dolph Lundgren’s performance was a much more interesting than his debut in “Rocky IV” and has more depth. Florian’s performance is a bit bland at times expect from one scene in particular. His character arch is very similar to Lundgren’s in “Rocky IV” from a character standpoint and an actor’s. A real life athlete playing a another athlete from “Rocky IV” to this movie. These 2 movies follow the same the pattern as the first 2 “Rocky” from a story telling aspect.

Overall, this was a pretty good follow up to the first one. The acting was still great, fight scenes were excellent and the storyline was solid. My opinion is that they should either stop here with this story or stop at 3 but bring back Coogler. After “Rocky II” , those became less about the storytelling  and more of the 80s action movies. III & IV were entertaining, V not so much and Balboa was solid, none could hold a candle to the first 2 films. I would hate to see this new series (or spinoffs)  follow that same pattern.