The torch is passed to a new generation in this week’s DVD as the Rocky series continues with an enjoyable return to Philadelphia’s mean streets in Creed.
The film’s title relates to Rocky’s first and most famous opponent, Carl Weathers’ stylish and slick Apollo Creed, who defeated the Italian Stallion in the first Rocky film (but got his comeuppance in the sequel).
It’s now years later and although Creed is long gone, his troubled son is determined to follow his path.
Michael B Jordan plays the young Adonis Creed, an angry young man struggling to find his place in a world where his father’s legacy looms large.
It isn’t long till he finds his way to his father’s ex-nemesis, convincing the reluctant Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) to help train him for an unlikely shot at the world championship.
This is a classic boxing movie in every sense, and a return to form for a series which lost its way slightly in the last instalment, Rocky Balboa.
From an underdog looking for a chance to prove himself, to a wizened old trainer, to a first-rate training montage, this film has all the ingredients.
These ingredients are brought to life by strong lead performances. Jordan puts in an accomplished display while Stallone slips into the old boxer’s skin with practiced ease, putting in a nuanced performance which earned him a well-deserved Oscar nomination earlier in the year.
However, while there is something comfortingly familiar about the set-up of the film, director Ryan Coogler has added enough new touches to keep things fresh. Tessa Thompson provides complexity as Creed’s love interest Bianca, while real-life British boxer Tony Bellew does well as the film’s main antagonist, ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan.
By the time the action culminates in a championship title fight at Everton’s Goodison Park football stadium, you’re invested in this young character and his fight for recognition.
It all points to a bright future for the ongoing Rocky boxing saga.