There was some skepticism that young director, Ryan Coogler was up to the task of doing justice to the Rocky franchise. However, Stallone took a gamble on this young son of a gun and it paid off. Everything from the outset about this movie screamed maverick. For starters, Stallone was to be a supporting actor and there would a new protagonist in the mix Michael B. Jordan.
From the outset, the difference between this film and other ‘Rocky’ films is clear. Director Ryan Coogler presents a delicious story that is quiet mesmerizing and heart rending tale quite different than what we are accustomed to in Rocky films.
Everything from the Rocky mythology has been tested in this movie: from the ultimate underdog story to a guy in his prime and then to an individual who lives his remaining days away from the sport. When the title was Creed and not Rocky 7, there was a sense of anticipation surrounding the release. Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weather, from Rocky 1 through 4 was at first Rocky Balboa’s rival in the first two releases. They only become friends in the third and fourth until Apollo’s death in the hands of the Russian Bear, Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren.
One of the most memorable moments in the series was the last fight in Rock 3 where Rocky and Apollo take to the ring in one last time. We wonder who won the last fight between them_ a question that is asked later in the film.
In Creed, Coogler enters a new central character in the film, Apollo’s son, Adonis Johnson. Apollo had had an affair and Adonis was the product of that affair. The film starts with Adonis engaging in a very scrappy fight while his in a detention centre. From the outset, we realize that Adonis doesn’t want to be associated with the Apollo’s name but embodies his late father’s fighting spirit. After his mother’s death, Adonis is bounced from foster home to group home to foster home.
However, the movie has a new twist when Mary Anne Creed, played Phylicia Rashad, Apollo’s wife tracks Adonis down and adopts him. She doesn’t want him to fight or prove himself as a fighting legacy – A Creed.
On the other hand, Adonis does the complete opposite of what his mother wants he wants to fight. In the end, he becomes a self-taught boxer who is quite hungry to succeed in the boxing arena. Adonis up and quits his plum job after getting a promotion so that he can become full time.
Adonis moves to Philadelphia to pursue fighting full time and there he meets his father’s friend. They hit it off right away filling each other’s need for a father figure and ideal son as the movie progresses.
In Philadelphia, Adonis is struggling to find a place to call his as opposed to riding the legacy that is before him. While there, he meets a very beautiful neighbor, Bianca, played by Tessa Thomson, and they eventually becomes lovers.
True to the plot of the series, Adonis gets a chance to go toe to toe with a champion. It seems quite farfetched considering Adonis’ unknown status as a fighter_ he had some fights in Mexico prior to moving to Philly but they were unsanctioned by a professional boxing association. Hence, most people don’t feel like he deserved it but as the fight draws nearer, we get to so a person who struggle to prove it to himself and to all that he does indeed deserve them.
Throughout the movie, there is a naturalness of the scenes_ Stallone and Jordan don’t just act, they are actually the characters they play. There is a kind of symbiosis between the Adonis and Balboa where they help each other cope with the situations that come before the actual fight.
In the actual fights, there is a diversion from standard fight choreography. In Adonis’ first fight with Rocky in his corner, one gets to feel the energy and wisdom move from seasoned fighter, Balboa to Adonis. It is a kind of dance where the first round is full uncut fight. Coogler doesn’t disappoint in the main fight either. The mix of sound and visual effects in a way makes us feel as though we are in the fight ourselves.
Creed has proved itself as a totally different film other than a comeback. Viewers are in for a treat as Creed proves to be the beginning of a very special character.