Monday, November 23, 2015


It’s been forty years since we first took a ringside ride down the Rocky Balboa pugilistic rabbit hole – a bare-knuckled journey that’s seen its fair share of bombastic brawler highs and ridiculous Russkie lows.  …and had it not been for that tantalizing trailer, I probably would have made fun of CREED (like we all do the band) sight unseen.  I’m here to say, however, that I’m glad I never led with that easy-to-dismiss jab…because CREED turns out to be something wholeheartedly different.  It’s a thrillingly unabashed, crowd pleasing sports drama fueled on vim, vigor and vehemently passionate performances from both Jordan and Stallone (arguably some of the latter’s best work – ever).  Director Ryan Coogler has more than efficiently polished the gloves of this once golden franchise – enabling the pulse-pounding tale to briskly bob-and-weave like a bantamweight independent film and yet hit with emotional and motivational, star-powered ferocity of a box office heavyweight.  Ultimately, Coogler’s winning hook is creating a fresh, raw, urban legend of ambition, talent and legacy that’s rooted in palpable doses of rah-rah nostalgia.  Equal parts drama, romance, action, heart and humor, it’s an engagingly energized, commendably charismatic and serendipitously soulful sequel that will make you stand up and cheer!  CREED is an ambitiously gripping film that everyone should welcome with arms wide open – because it will, indeed, take you higher.  Creed is the lord of the ring!

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad
Directed by: Ryan Coogler (FRUITVALE STATION)
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 2hr. 12min.
Story: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks down Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring. With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring? [Warner Bros.]