Tough and tender. That's “Creed II.”
Tough: We first meet
Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) as he is pummeling an opponent in a boxing
ring. He's big, muscular,
mean, and focused. He looks
Tender: Adonis Johnson
(Michael B. Jordan) is trying to practice getting down on one knee and
proposing to his fiancee, Bianca (Tessa Thompson).
He finally gets up the nerve just as she's coming out of the
bathroom, when she hasn't yet put in her hearing aids (she has a hearing
disability). She didn't hear a
word he said. So he has to
start over again. This time,
she reacts in the way he'd hoped. She
accepts, and they kiss, and Director Steven Caple, Jr. discreetly cuts to
the big picture window, where the city lights are gleaming.
Tough: Adonis Johnson,
the son of Apollo Creed, wins a hard-fought match from a skilled but aging
titleholder, and Adonis Johnson becomes the heavyweight champion of the
Tender: Adonis and
Bianca go to visit his mother, Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad).
She notices that Bianca has a certain sheen on her skin, and a
shine in her eyes. She
surmises that Bianca's pregnant. This
is news to both Bianca and Adonis, but the pregnancy test proves that Mary
Anne's intuition is right. Bianca
says she's not sure she's ready. Adonis
says they're going to have to get ready.
Tough: Adonis asks his
old trainer, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) to train him for his next
fight, a challenge from the formidable Viktor Drago, the son of the boxer
Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), who fought Adonis' Dad, Apollo Creed, and
beat him so badly that Apollo Creed died from his injuries.
Rocky thinks Adonis is fighting for all the wrong reasons, and
refuses to help him. Adonis is
beaten badly, but manages to officially hold on to his title because Drago
is disqualified for hitting Adonis after he was down.
Tender: Bianca has a
baby girl, and she's healthy. Only
later do they discover that she has the same hearing impairment as Bianca.
Tough: Adonis goes
through a funk after his lopsided loss, and doesn't even feel like going
back to the gym. He's lost his
moorings. Viktor, meanwhile,
continues to pummel every opponent, and demands a rematch with Adonis,
who's by now not only out of sync, but out of shape.
Tender: Rocky visits
the grave of his wife, Adrian, and talks to her about the weather, and
what's happening in his life. The
sore spot is that he is estranged from their son.
And because of that estrangement, Rocky hasn't even met his
grandson. Rocky, the tough
guy, looks very vulnerable.
Tough: Adonis asks
Rocky to help him train for the rematch, and this time they take it very
seriously. They go out to a
remote training camp, where there's nothing to do but train.
We watch several sequences of extreme workouts.
Tender: Bianca asks
Adonis to baby sit while she goes to work on her music.
She's a singer, and she misses performing.
He understands that everybody has to do what they're meant to do.
And he was meant to box.
Tough: The re-match is
brutal; a slugfest for the ages. Both
fighters are bloodied and bruised, and both have to find the will to get
up off the mat after being knocked down.
Do you really have to ask how it turns out?
Tender: Adonis goes to
his father's grave to talk to him, and brings Bianca and their daughter to
Tough and Tender together. That's