There was this Dutch satire show that a very long time ago (after Rocky 3 came out) parodied the Rocky franchise. It was about an older Rocky starring in Rocky 5. It was funny as hell since back then it was unheard of that one film could spin so many sequels. Yet here we are with the seventh entry in the franchise. Call it a spin off, reboot or sequel, it does not really matter. At heart this is a Rocky movie through and through. Only this time Balboa hands over the reigns to Apollo Creed's son and it is epic.
I have been a fan since ever I can remember and there were only two times where I thought that it was time for Stallone to quite the franchise. Which was after Rocky 5 and before Rocky Balboa. Rocky 5 missed the mark somehow since it lacked that one element that made the previous movies so good. In all of those films it was about Rocky proving himself. In the fifth it was more about him reconnecting with his family and son in particular. Then when many years later they announced they were going to make one where sixty year old Rocky would fight a younger guy in the ring I simply could not believe it. How would they make that work without it becoming a comedy? But I was pleasantly surprised how much heart that film had and did a much better job of incorporating some life truths and wisdom. Which finally brings me to Creed. Yes, I was a little skeptical but after seeing the trailer I was actually pumped. It was the old Rocky formula in a newer jacket with Rocky as his boxing coach. And don't ask my why exactly but it worked. Somehow Stallone made it work again. My guess is that throughout these years he has been able to make the Rocky character grow. It is very rare to follow a character for so long and not get tired or bored because of it. Of course it helps enormously that Rocky is a lovable character. He is everyman. He is the underdog. He is us. Only this time he is not the only one. Enter Adonis Creed (I could make a joke. But I have no clue why they chose names of these Greek mythological figures. There must be a story behind it. If anyone knows please do enlighten me.) Apollo Creed's offspring. If this had been done in some random soap opera it would have been cheesy. However in Stallone's hands it's incredibly clever. He knows very well that none of the opponents that came after him made as much as an impression as he did. In a way by letting Michael B. Jordan star as a Creed it almost felt like Apollo Creed himself was back. Adonis like Rocky has something to proof and he is willing to give it his all. But he has his own obstacles to overcome. And it is fun to see him do just that. Of course this film has it's fair share of drama. But contrary to say a boxing film like Southpaw here it felt real and something you could relate to. The boxing scenes are very good to very exciting. The choreography is good but it also comes with the necessary emotional context. You can feel there is something at stake for Adonis.
Of course after all these years Sylvester Stallone has made Rocky into an icon. He could not do wrong even if he tried it. But you know what in this film we get to witness Stallone as the acting force he can be. Most of what he does is pure acting and nothing else. He might still be capable of being very physical in his films but here he lets Michael B. do all the ass kicking. Maybe Creed was what Stallone intended with Rocky 5. Who knows? What's important is the fact that the latest entry into this franchise rocks.
Creed might be a formula film. It's one done right and with a lot of heart. And damned you will feel so good in the end. This is how you make a good sports film Mr. Antoine Fuqua. Take notes and learn from it. In my humble opinion a must watch.