THE first Creed film acted as a shrewd way to continue the Rocky franchise by passing the gloves to a ferociously modern generation in Adonis (Michael B Jordan).

Round two of this revamped boxing saga does a rewarding job of building on the foundations laid by the first, developing the idea of what legacy means to someone who never met their father but who feels his shadow looming.

Straight away this sequel promises a tough match-up as it depicts the training and in-ring capabilities of powerful and ruthless Ukrainian fighter Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son “raised in hate” of none other than Ivan Drago (a returning Dolph Lundgren), the formidable fighter who killed Adonis’s father and Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) opponent-turned-friend Apollo Creed more than three decades ago.

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Back home in Philadelphia, Adonis is living life as newly defending Heavyweight Champion of the World with his musically gifted girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson). But still he feels that chip weighing heavily on his shoulder that constantly makes him feel like he needs to prove himself.

As is the tradition of the genre, it becomes a dance around when and where the two men – each defined by their fathers in their own opposite-sides-of-the-same-coin ways – will trade blows.

Director Steven Caple Jr takes over from Ryan Coogler to deliver a worthy follow-up that lands heavy blows where it counts and in a few places that are unexpected, the latter of which is one of the film’s strengths.

Ultimately it’s grounded in those recognisable genre fundamentals. And while adherence to that leads it to lack some of the fiery generational freshness of the first film, it’s achieved with panache – the essential training montage is particularly well-staged – working in harmony with a resolute grittiness and a depth of feeling in how it explores the key theme of living up to what came before versus carving your own path.

With another gripping performance from Jordan that further cements his real-deal star status, it’s also adept at exploring the effect on his loved ones of Adonis’s decision to fight someone truly dangerous.

Rocky’s supportiveness battling against his not wanting to watch his protégé succumb to his old friend’s fate, alongside Bianca being similarly caught between not wanting to see him get hurt and not wanting to stand in his way, lends the drama a believable sense of anguish.

By the time it gets to the inevitable big final showdown, it feels like it all matters and allows that singular rousing feeling of being desperate for him to win soar even higher.