After iron man Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.
Adonis Johnson is the son of the famous boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died in a boxing match in Rocky IV (1985). Adonis wasn't born until after his father's death and wants to follow his fathers footsteps in boxing. He seeks a mentor who is the former heavyweight boxing champion and former friend of Apollo Creed, the retired Rocky Balboa. Rocky eventually agrees to mentor Adonis. With Rocky's help they hope to get a title job to face even deadlier opponents than his father. But whether he is a true fighter remains to be seen.... Written by
If you have watched the original Rocky and think it is a near classic, then Creed is close. Maybe not a classic, because only time will tell. But it is close in terms of look and feel. There are scenes, tempo, performances, music, and of course the setting (Philadelphia) which harken back to the award winning 1976 film. This is not a comparison piece, but Creed is what the earlier release this year of Southpaw could have been; a gritty, modern day boxing film.
Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station), plays the titular character (using the name Donnie Johnson) who yearns to exorcise his demons/ follow his dreams in the boxing ring. Without giving anything away, he's the son of the late, great Apollo Creed and he sets out to find any trainer willing to take him on. He can fight, but he's raw and needs refinement if he's going to be taken seriously.
His search lands him in his father's old Philly stomping ground, where he pester's one Rocky Balboa (Stallone) into training him. He pulls every angle to get Rocky to help him since his pop and Rocky were combatants and close friends before he died. Once Rocky begrudgingly gives in, things begin to coalesce. Stallone is excellent as the "Mickey"-esque Balboa. Although he didn't write the screenplay for Creed, he is one of the producers and his presence is felt. The dynamic between his character and Creed is perfect. The right combination of old school and new school. One scene is indicative when Creed takes a picture on his phone of Rocky's workout routine then tells him it's "in the cloud" to Rocky's bewilderment.
In Creed, director and writer Ryan Cogler is reunited with Jordan. As Creed, Jordan's performance is on part with Stallone's. He imbues his character with just the right amount of bravado, not cockiness, just confidence, hunger, and drive. He also trained and bulked up for the role. But he's not all fierce competitor, he has funny, sensitive sides as well. Cogler's team decided Creed should have a love interest. The relationship he forges with a local neo- soul artist played by Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) could have been syrupy, but thankfully it doesn't overshadow the main theme or feel forced. Frankly, some of the scenes with Thompson and Jordan are very good and so is their chemistry.
Creed is an excellent example of mixing newcomers with established names on both sides of the camera and having the end result come out perfect. The crew and cast turn in great work. Cogler had the fortune and skill to work with people who know what it takes to put together a film that would appeal to critics and audiences alike. There were a couple scenes that are "wow" moments, not just fight scenes, which are are amazing, but little scenes that are set up, shot (by Maryse Alberti) and acted that will have a lasting effect on the viewer. Maybe classic isn't a stretch.