3 ½ stars
Rocky II may have been one of the first films I ever saw, I vaguely recall accompanying my older cousins to see what arguably may not have been the most appropriate summer flick for a seven year old boy.
This latest addition to the long running series of boxing movies takes a side step, in a way, by putting the focus on Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of Rocky Balboa’s old rival Apollo Creed. The orphaned boy is taken in as a youngster by Creed’s widow (played by none other than iconic eighties mother Phylicia Rashad), and in adulthood develops a fascination with Balboa, eventually seeking him out in Philadelphia for training. When word gets out that Rocky is training his old rival’s son, suddenly Adonis gets offered matches many steps up from his days of illicit matches in Mexico.
Speaking of a step up, the movie itself does rise above typical sports movie fare, thanks mostly to the brooding performance of Michael B. Jordan in the title role, and the convincing chemistry he has with both his romantic interest, as well as with Sylvester Stallone.