Sylvester Stallone got very emotional at the Golden Globes, seeming genuinely surprised when he scooped the gong there for best supporting actor. That’s probably because it was his first Golden Globe, since he got one for the original Rocky, way back in 1977. It’s a well-deserved accolade for his role in Creed, the new high energy boxing film to feature the former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa and the first not to be written by Stallone.
It’s weird how we all confuse fact and fiction, when it comes to the boxer. Sly is Rocky, Rocky is Sly. Who is real, who is the character? They are especially intertwined, as Rocky has adapted over the years and aged with Stallone. When we meet him this time, it’s in the company of Adonis (superbly played by Michael B. Jordan) who is a young kid, who just grew up scrapping.
Adonis is the son of the previously Rocky-featured Apollo Creed, Rocky’s late friend, and opponent. Johnson basically doesn’t want or need any help in the world. But the edgy kid is making an exception, when he turns up at Rocky’s Italian restaurant, as the aging boxer is locking up for the night. He wants the ‘old-school’ training that Rocky can give him and he doesn’t want to trade on his father’s name.Then it’s no gain without pain for the duo.
We first meet Johnson punching another kid in a correctional facility in California and then see him fighting in a bout that’s dismissed as a bar room brawl in Tijuana Mexico. But there’s a romantic heart to the movie too, with young singer Bianca (feisty Philly girl Tessa Thompson) soon to steal our hearts as well as Creed’s.
When it comes to the big fight that ends the film, directed with blow-by-blow verve by co-writer Ryan Coogler (soon to direct Marvel’s Black Panther), it’s actually at Goodison Park in Liverpool, with genuine Scouse boxer Bomber Bellew. Stallone is an Everton fan and requested permission to shoot some crowd shots there at half-time in a match last January.
It makes for a terrific sweat and blood-flecked finale to what has been billed as a potential future Creed strand to the Rocky legend. But the rest of it is as Philly as a steak and cheese sandwich, set on the mean streets and in the actual boxing gyms of the Pennsylvania city. From dirt-bike riders to the famous steps, the city is as much a character as the actors and since when could a pair of stars and stripes shorts make you cry? See whether you make it to the bell without a tear in your eye.
by Liz Kennedy
Creed is a certificate 12 A, duration 133 mins.