Rocky IV just keeps on giving.

It’s the one where Apollo Creed was fatally KO’d by Russian Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), leaving his illegitimate son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) to carry on the family legacy in Creed. It also heavily informs the events of Creed II, in which Drago’s own son, Viktor (Florian ‘Big Nasty’ Munteanu), surfaces to challenge Adonis, who is now the World Heavyweight Champion.

Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) advises against a bout predicated on bad blood, fearful that history could repeat itself. There’s also the fact that Viktor is a man mountain who could flatten Dwayne Johnson with one punch.

But Adonis isn’t about to give up the opportunity to settle an old score and consequently, Creed II follows the familiar path taken by previous Rocky films. It’s as much a sequel to Rocky IV as it is to Creed.

It’s also a movie about fathers and sons. Adonis, who is about to become a dad himself, must consider what he is really fighting for; Rocky contemplates his estranged relationship with his own son; and Ivan uses Viktor as a means of restoring honour to the Drago name in mother Russia.      

Although lacking the surprise and punch that made Creed such a triumphant comeback for the franchise (perhaps due to the absence of director Ryan Coogler), this generational sequel works thanks to the winning ‘family’ dynamic of Adonis, girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and Rocky, and its adherence to the traditional crowd-pleasing Rocky formula.    

Moreover, fans will get a kick out of Ivan Drago and Rocky meeting face to face after 33 years, while ’80s movie buffs get the added bonus of Dolph Lundgren sharing a couple of scenes with Brigitte Nielsen, as Drago’s ex. Could Mr. T be next in line for a return appearance?

In cinemas: November 29, 2018
Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.

Read our interview with director Steven Caple Jr. and the cast