The Rocky franchise has been on the ropes more than once. In 1990, Rocky V was a big disappointment, failing at the box office and scoring a load of Golden Raspberry nominations. That put the series on ice until 2006 when the much more favorably received Rocky Balboa went on to impress, despite critics justifiably pointing out that it was implausible for a boxer in his 60s to fight in a heavyweight bout. It just about worked, though most assumed this would be the last gasp of the character.
Nine years later, however, Stallone proved everyone wrong yet again with the fantastic Creed, which is currently riding high on Netflix‘s streaming charts as the tenth most-watched film globally today. Directed by Black Panther‘s Ryan Coogler, the 2015 movie shifts the focus to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, son of Apollo. Over the course of the film, he comes to terms with the legacy of his father as he’s trained by Rocky, who is himself battling cancer.
When I saw the pic back in 2015, I had low expectations. I’d appreciated Coogler’s previous work on Fruitvale Station, but there was nothing in it that made me think he’d be a great fit for a boxing film. And besides, does the ageing Rocky franchise really need a spinoff series?
Two hours later, I (and the rest of the audience) were cheering on one of the most spectacularly shot and scored boxing matches ever committed to celluloid. There’s a moment late in the film where it looks like it’s all over for Adonis that might have gotten the single best reaction from an audience I’ve ever seen in a movie (you’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve watched it).
Pretty much everyone loved it, with Stallone picking up a Best Supporting Actor nod at the 2016 Academy Awards. It was followed by the still very entertaining but not quite as good Creed II, though if for some reason the original has passed you by up until now, this is the perfect time to check it out. It’s amazing stuff, really.
And if you’re still hankering for more boxing action, there’s Stallone’s upcoming director’s cut of Rocky IV, which should be out by the end of the year.