Ladies and gentlemen let’s get ready to sequel. Creed 2 is the 8th movie set in the rocky universe however as the title suggests it is working to be a franchise all of its own. This is propelled by the strength of the characters and the actors performances, but is it hindered by its ties to the parent franchise? The first Creed movie was an unexpected success when it came out at least for me anyway. A fresh-faced director in Ryan Coogler and a brilliant young actor in Michael B Jordan delivered us the best Rocky movie since the original oscar-winning first film. This time around there’s a new director in Steven Staple Jr. who was handpicked by Coogler Jordan and the man himself Sylvester Stallone. In the ring you got rules, outside we got nothing. They hit you with all these cheap shots. People like me live in the past you got people they need you.Now can you enjoy this movie having not seen any other Rocky movies? Sure, but I think it’s good to have some prior knowledge to fully appreciate the story here. Particularly Rocky 4, a film I loved as a young boy but if I’m being honest it’s a big bloated pile of 80s schlock. If you take a closer look there’s not much to that film beyond wall-to-wall training montages and a weird narrative about the Cold War. It hasn’t dated all that well. However, spoiler alert, Rocky 4 is where Apollo Creed was killed at the hands of the big Russian Ivan Drago. Now the main event in Creed 2 is getting to see Apollo’s son Adonis Creed face off against Ivan’s son Victor Drago. So nostalgia had me frothing at this prospect but because of the film Rocky 4 is my lactose-intolerant logic was prepared for a trip to the cheese factory. By that I mean then I was ready to spray crap all over this movie. You got everything to lose this guy’s got nothing to loose.Ain’t got a choice. That’s the same thing your father said and he died right here in my hands. Listen to me this guy is dangerous. You don’t think I can beat him? The story is the old cliche, fighter experiences pain and failure, loses way, discovers humility finds something to fight for, epic training montage leads up to final act where all the hard work pays off and there’s a flood of emotions as the credits roll. Thankfully even with that formula applied Creed 2 still manages to honor and actually improve the Rocky mythology. Primarily it’s down to the amazing performances from each and every member of the cast. Stallone is brilliant as an older Rocky and fans will note how he has achieved his final form and almost become the character of Mickey his trainer from the earlier films who has played so well by the great Burgess Meredith. Tessa Thompson is really strong as Creed’s wife Bianca ,she occupies her own narrative and combined with Phylicia Rashad who plays mama Creed, forms the backbone of the movie countering the macho side of the male characters with inner strength and sensibility.Florian Munteanu is monstrous as Victor Drago and brings complexity to the character in spite of not having much dialogue. Dolph Lundgren is surprisingly excellent as daddy Ivan and provides depth that was sorely missing from his character in Rocky 4. There’s more to Ivan Drago than him just being a villain. We’ve come a long way since the typecasting from Cold War movies in the 70s and 80s. Or have we? I’m still trying to figure out if this is merely history repeating itself. Tensions between the US and Russia are higher than they’ve been in a long time Drago and Rocky meet again.Are we actually time-traveling here people? I’m taking the fight! Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago who infamously kill Apollo Creed appeared today to issue a challenge from Adonis Creed. Of course the cast isn’t worth a dime if it’s not rounded out by a solid lead and Michael B Jordan delivers that in spades. He puts in such an emotional performance as Adonis Creed that you truly feel the weight of what this young man is experiencing in and out of the ring.His performance extracts so much empathy from the audience and his chemistry with Stallone is fantastic. I’m not gonna be here forever. What’s that supposed to mean? It means you got to do some smart thinking but… You want to talk about smart decisions Rock? You in this house all alone who’s been taken care you man? I’ve been here for you! There’s definitely a payoff for fans of the franchise who loved Rocky 4 or felt like they deserved better from that movie and while it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first Creed movie Creed 2 is a very decent sequel with one or two little teeny surprises. Three and a half out of five. Round after round you learn more about yourself.When I stepped into that ring it wasn’t all about me. Leave a comment, tell me what you think, don’t forget to hit subscribe and if you want more straight shooting reviews head over to thewatchman.com.au. .