As Rocky says in this movie, “You have to be stupid if you want to be a boxer”. That is true given that the sport of boxing guarantees that your gonna get hit in the head plenty of times, and continue getting hit until your brain damaged enough that you have to retire. I once brought up the idea to my parents when I was in high school, around the same time I saw the first Rocky movie, and they told me they would hear none of it. Boy, am I glad was I told otherwise. It’s not for everyone, but for the likable Rocky Balboa, it’s a life.
Rocky just may be the greatest sports story of all time, giving the chance of a lifetime to an underdog who never thought he’d amount to anything past the slums of Philadelphia. What drew people to this was how relatable Rocky is, being a tough guy, but also funny enough that we really want to see him get with Adrian and possibly win the heavyweight championship. Each sequel gave Rocky more opponents, new financial and health challenged, and something to morally fight for. This time, Rocky steps aside as a manager for a new boxer in the latest of the Rocky saga, Creed.
It seems that Apollo Creed (Rocky’s opponent/friend from Rocky I though IV) had a child through an extramarital lover. Young “Donnie” Johnson Creed is found in a juvenile hall center by Apollo’s widow Mary Anne Creed and takes him in.
Years later, Donnie (played by Michael B. Jordan) is boxing in the underground fights, while working for a successful securities firm in LA. He finally decides to leave his job to become a professional boxer, much to the displeasure of his mother, who remembers her husband getting killed in the ring (from Rocky IV).
He moves to Philadelphia where he tracks down an older Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) who still runs his restaurant. Though Balboa at first says no to returning to the world of boxing, he changes his mind once he see’s how skilled Donnie is. From training at Mighty Mick’s (under new ownership) to fighting small matches, Donnie makes a killing. Once his identity of being Apollo Creed son is discovered, heavyweight champion “Pretty” Ricky Canlan wants a match before he retires/serves his jail sentence. Donnie not only struggles to embrace his father’s legacy, but finds out that Balboa may have a life threatening illness.
Having seen six pervious Rocky movies, I expected this to be totally predictable and a retread of the original movies. What’s amazing about Creed though is that even though it does tread through familiar boxing territory, it’s still a knockout of a personal story. Unlike the Rocky movies where Balboa was dirt poor and came from the slums, we have a guy who had every privilege and is trying to go through the same path that his mentor did. He discovers a lot more about himself and his father then we realize and the movie end’s up becoming a fascinating personal story for our hero.
Michael B. Jordan is both very likable and relatable as Apollo’s son. He represents everyone that has wanted to follow their dream, yet is afraid to risk what they have now. Sylvester Stallone tackles a new part of Balboa that we haven’t seen before; older and weaker then he was in Rocky Balboa who’s questioning his own mortality now that all his loved ones are gone. Though the boxing material is easy to guess, it’s just done and shot so well that it feels fresh.
I’ll give this five Rocky statues out of five. Creed isn’t just the best sequel to the Rocky movies, but is a guarantee favorite of 2015 of mine. Like the classic training song, you should be “getting strong now and fly” as you see this new chapter of the Rocky saga and see that is has more punches to throw.