12 – 128mins – 2015
“Can the kid fight as well as the old man?”
40 years after he first ran up those steps and into audience’s hearts on Thanksgiving 1976, boxing champion and montage trendsetter Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) returned to the big screen for a seventh round and his first since 2006’s belated eponymous comeback.
In this side-quel/spin-off the retired sporting icon-turned-restaurateur stays outside the ropes, passing his gloves on to the next generation in the form of Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Fantastic Four’s Michael B. Jordan), the illegitimate son of Rocky’s late rival-turned-friend, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, appearing in flashbacks and TV clips from the previous instalments).
Working with best friend and first-time screenplay scribe Aaron Covington, acclaimed Fruitvale Station director and co-writer Ryan Coogler’s story is a familiar rags-to-ring tale of underdog drama, with “Baby Creed” progressing from an angry detention centre orphan in a 1998-set prologue to a determined and strong-willed young man, upping sticks and moving to Philly to follow in his famous father’s footsteps – and out of his heavyweight shadow.
“If I fight, you fight!”
So inspiring, heartfelt and respectful to the Rocky legacy is Creed that any familiarity is forgiven. Like an adrenaline rush you become swept up in the training, tears and determination to succeed as the rising star dubbed “Hollywood” engages with his weathered “Unc” – who is fighting his own private battle – and prepares to take on rude-boy antagonist “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellew). Sly deservedly took home a Golden Globe for his enduring and endearing turn.
CR@B’s Claw Score: