PHILADELPHIA — "Creed II" hits theaters on Nov. 21, once again bringing the story of beloved fictional boxer Rocky Balboa and his mentee Adonis Creed to the big screen. In a recent interview, the director and actors of the film shared with The Christian Post the film's spiritual and redeeming qualities.
Last weekend, CP was invited to sit down with the director and cast of "Creed II" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the movie was filmed. While there, director Steven Caple Jr. celebrated the fact the the original Rocky franchise was inspired by Jesus Christ and said with this new film, he hoped to capture the same heart.
"I think for us, just keeping that heart still treading along, I think that's what makes the Rocky and Creed franchise, is that, you have the elements that are very much family, fatherhood, hope, which is a big thing for us. So coming into the franchise I just wanted to make sure it was alive, I didn't want to lose that. I didn't want to break into anything too commercial. I still want you to feel determined afterward and inspired," Caple told CP.
The young filmmaker pegged Rocky's character as Creed's "spiritual teacher" for the new installment.
"In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa, Apollo's son and current champ Adonis Creed accepts a challenge from Drago's son — another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life," The synopsis of "Creed II" reads.
Caple said the movie follows several themes and is an ensemble piece at the core of it.
"I think for me, I wanted people to feel for everybody in the ring and everyone outside of the ring. I didn't want it to be just a – straight guy versus villain, David and Goliath type of story," the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 inductee continued. "I wanted to go deeper than that, so people can look at it more than just a fight film."
Caple added, "We wanted to portray real life outside of the ring, and stuff will get in the way of your dreams, of your goals and the things of your life will alter. So to keep that faith up and to keep your head up, I think was important because [if not] you will miss what's in front of you."
Two of the lead actors in the film, Dolph Lundgren and Florian Munteanu, shared that despite their roles as the film's villains, they were both greatly impacted by the emotion that went into their father/son on-screen relationship.
"A lot of people know my character [Ivan Drago] and now I get to sort of show the full range of this guy, who he is, who he was, and what happened to him and to some extent, what happened to me [personally] because I've had a tough life too," Lundgren explained to CP.
The popular "Rocky IV" actor revealed that his character really challenged him because it mirrored his own relationship with his dad, but he played the role of the father.
"I get to play his role and try to push to get some redemption," he maintained. "It was very emotional for me and for him [Munteanu] every day. Every day there was some scene that would get you into tears."
The Swedish actor described the experience as a healing one.
Munteanu admitted that like his co-star, the role of Drago's son was also very moving for him. "Creed II" is the professional boxer's first feature film.
"It was a tough process, I'm honest with you. It was maybe the toughest process, so far, of my life cause it was not only physically exhausting but also mentally exhausting," Munteanu acknowledged.
He went on to say, "I had to bring back a lot of bad memories from my personal life in order to play those emotions and moments or memories that I really got rid of, but our director Steven Caple he really went hard on us. He really went for the high intensity in every scene, not only boxing, but in every acting scene that we had. He wanted to, to pull something great off. And I think me and Dolph had a great opportunity here to show more than just being the muscle."
When summarizing the film, the actors both agreed the film was more than just an action piece.
"The way I saw it, it's about redemption. It's about acceptance and letting go of past injustices. Everybody has to let go, because the first person you really hurt by holding on to old anger, is yourself," Lundgren maintained. "My character holds on to it to the 15th round, right til the end where he realizes, 'No, I love my kid and that's more important to me. I don't care what happens anymore. I don't care. It's just about him.' I think that was quite powerful for me."
Munteanu concluded by saying, "For me, it's a family movie, it's about family and loyalty, especially about the relationship between a child and his parents. Parents can be hard sometimes on their kid, but I think usually they love them, right? And that's why they maybe get hard on them because they want to push them somehow. So the message should be that family is everything. So as soon as you get out of the cinema, call your mom, call your dad and tell them that you love them."
"Creed II" hits theaters everywhere Nov. 21 and, along with Munteanu and Lundgren, features Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad. The soul-stirring sequel was written by Sylvester Stallone and produced by Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, Kevin King-Templeton as well as Stallone.
For more information on the MGM, Warner Bros. Pictures release, visit creedthemovie.com.