This punchy sequel hits the ground running. 3/5 stars
Michael B Jordan's champ Adonis Johnson faces a hulking new Russian foe (Florian 'Big Nasty' Munteanu), but Sylvester Stallone's Rocky is not happy with the match.
Three years after 2015's hit spin-off movie Creed lifted the Rocky franchise off the canvas, the sequel comes out swinging with a set up that harks all the way back to 1984 and Rocky IV. Because it turns out that Munteanu is none other than Viktor Drago – the son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who killed Adonis' dad Apollo Creed in the ring.
So the grudge match to end them all is all set - but, don't worry, you don't need to have seen the Rocky movie to understand what's going on.
The fight scenes still pack quite a punch, but despite the welcome return of Stallone, Lundgren and, yes, even Brigitte Nielsen, the episodes outside the ring are too sappy and predictable to make the movie a knockout success.
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A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.