Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster, Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran, Graham McTavish, Malik Bazille, Ricardo McGill, Andre Ward, Gabe Rosado, Wood Harris, Buddy Osborn, Rupal Pujara
Genre: Drama, Sport
Age Rating: 12A/PG-13
Running Time: 133 Minutes
This year’s surprise Oscar contender comes in the form of a hard-hitting and very emotional boxing drama which acts a very worthy addition to the timeless ROCKY saga.
Adonis ‘Donny’ Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is a young, Los Angeles bound, office worker moonlighting as a boxer who never met his world famous father and former heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed, who tragically died in the ring at the hands of the Russian Olympic champion Drago in ROCKY IV. Filled with feelings of frustration and neglect from his parents who left him at a young age, Donny tries to channel his anger into global boxing success, and make it on his own name, by moving to Philadelphia and seeking the training from the legendary Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), who was once one of Apollo’s closest friends, and the only other man to beat him. As stories surface, champions of the world challenge him and relationships develop between Donny and the people around him, Apollo’s son realises he has been fighting with himself throughout the whole of his life and he just needs to do whatever he can to be worthy of the CREED name.
I was so excited going into this film! I have always loved a sports film, and especially a boxing film. The ROCKY films were such a huge part of my childhood, and films like THE FIGHTER and SOUTHPAW have made me realise how a boxing film can be made gritty as well as cheesy. I knew that CREED had a lot to compete with because of these sorts of films and also greats like RAGING BULL, CINDERELLA MAN and THE HURRICANE, but in all fairness to FRUITVALE STATION’S Ryan Coogler, he has directed a spectacle of boxing film here which is personally, on par with SOUTHPAW from 2015 and will shock you in many ways.
Speaking of shocks, leading up to this film I could not believe that I was seeing Sylvester Stallone receive a golden globe and be nominated for best supporting actor at this year’s Oscars. I kept thinking to myself, is this a sympathy vote? Were viewers as deluded at the boxers at the end of this film when making their votes? Well, I was wrong. Stallone puts in the performance of his career in this film, where for once his role does not depend on his ability to shoot a gun, kill bad guys or punch the living daylights out of an over-exaggerated boxing opponent. Of course he is still around the boxing which made him a legend, but as simply Donny’s coach, we get the greatest insight into Rocky’s life and as an audience we are allowed to cry with him and laugh with him, not as a doddery old fool who needs to give up, but as a heartbroken, lonely man who is determined to fight one last time to have some sort of family in his life.
Not taking anything away from Michael B. Jordan here who is also superb as the dedicated and ruthless Adonis Creed. His commitment to this role is honourable, not just in terms of getting in shape, but portaying himself as a legitimate boxer, taking punches and stepping toe to toe in the ring with professional boxers like Tony Belllew who plays the provocative champion, Ricky Conlan, who looks for one last box office fight before he heads to prison. He is every bit as good as Jake Gyllenhaal in SOUTHPAW, which is why I end up leaving these two films on a level playing field.
Although the CREED soundtrack is still impressive, and brings the ROCKY franchise into a more ‘street’ environment, compared to SOUTHPAW, I do not believe it is as mind-blowing and memorable a soundtrack, and this is perhaps the only thing it falls short on. However, what I love about this film, is that it is not like most reboots, it has completely created a new story, which will undoubtedly bring with it a few more sequels, just like its predecessor ROCKY, but it, if anything, pays tribute to the ROCKY saga rather than depending on it.
Overall, CREED was an exciting but also a heart-breaking watch which definitely deserves a cinema visit! The fights are more realistic than the classic ROCKY films (no more punching the air in these films), but they still manage to keep the outrageous punching sequences, from both fighters, at the same time, which I do not think I have ever seen in a boxing match to this day. But, that is what makes us boxing film lovers chuckle. In addition to this, there was endless nostalgic comedy, which tied in the previous films so well. The training scene is brilliant; the main part of any boxing film for myself. However, the greatest thing about this film, is Stallone’s emotional performance, which will have every ROCKY fan distraught at some point and hoping that he takes home an Oscar next month! I smell a CREED 2 and it smells gooooooooood!
“Your legacy is more than a name.”
Recommendation: Great group trip to the cinema this one! Get ready for some fun, some laughter and some heart-breaking moments! This will be a definite OWN for me when it comes to Blu-Ray.