With Creed vs Drago being the headliner of this film, I was already feeling the pressure for both boxers (Adonis and Viktor) and their potrayers (Michael B Jordan and Florian Munteanu) as they get ready for this climatic fight.
With this being a boxing film there was, of course, many cliche training scenes that being said let’s break the film down into their respective corners:
In Viktor Drago’s corner:
Coming into this film as the clear antagonist to an already established protagonist, we are set to not root for Viktor but that feeling changes over the course of this film. Do not get me wrong when Viktor beat Adonis so bad in the first fight – it got him disqualified and Adonis got to keep his Heavyweight title – I was ready to hate on Viktor and I couldn’t wait for Adonis to get another go at him BUT this film really shows you why the Drago’s are doing this. They are not fighting because they have nothing to lose, they are fighting because they’ve already lost. When Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) beat Ivan (Dolph Lundgren) in his home country, Ivan’s wife left him and their son and everyone abondaned them so its a point of contention for Viktor that after his first fight with Adonis, everyone (Soviet aristocrats) including his mother are all ready to embrace them again like nothing ever happened. Ivan wants to accept but Viktor is reluctant. When his mother leaves his side of the ring during the second fight when he beings to lose, Ivan, surprisingly, does right by his son and throws in the towel. Doing that must have been hard for Ivan as he knew what it would mean for their family name but would rather have his son and honestly its a tender father-son moment that rivals that of the bond between Rocky and Adonis.
In Adonis Creed’s corner:
We can only imagine the amount of pressure that Adonis felt when he got that challenge from Viktor Drago because to not take the fight would be perceived as some kind of fear, I mean Viktor is clearly bigger and the history with their fathers aside, Adonis has more on the line – his Heavyweight title and his fiancee (Tessa Thompson) as well as daughter who are both deaf and will need him. Adonis fights Viktor the first time without Rocky or his mom (Phylicia Rashad) by his side and clearly his head is not in the game. It takes a while for Adonis to recover from the first fight and during that time he has to admit to himself and everyone around him about why he wants to fight Viktor. It is because he has already done what his father could do and now he wants to do what his father could not. Not many people will understand this and plenty of the times it will be misrepresented as a pride thing but when you have a parent who was successful and you are as successful as them in that field, your success will always be tied to theirs (whether or not they were present in your life) so the only way to feel like an individual is to go beyond them, which is to do what they couldn’t. In this case it is beating Drago in the ring. Learning from the first fight Team Creed change up their training tactics and train Adonis on how to push through the pain and learn how to be cool after taking many hits. Adonis gets through the second fight better and has to land more hits to take Viktor down and does so, winning it in the end.
I’m surprised at how this film has somewhat the same structure of the film that serves as it’s main history Rocky IV: first fight is the set up and the second fight is the big ending (set in Russia even!).
I am hoping that with Sylvester Stallone taking a break from portraying Rocky, we can see a relationship evolve between Viktor and Adonis, maybe the same way Rocky had one with Apollo because without that I am not sure how much further the story can be taken from where it was left.