March 7, 2023 – This movie is a solid knockout for Michael B. Jordan, who not only is the star of it, but is also the director and a producer (Sylvester Stallone is also listed as a producer of this movie). It successfully runs on the rails of the previous Rocky movies, including a very familiar physical training montage.
The plot of this movie is quite similar to Rocky IV (1985) when the champ came out of retirement to prove a point, and get revenge for the death of his friend, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). In this film, Creed's son, Apollo (Michael B. Jordan, reprising his role) comes out of retirement to avenge the defeat of his protégé, and world champion, Felix "El Guerrero" Chavez (played by Jose Benavidez) and to answer the challenge of his old friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
Anderson has a major chip on his shoulder because he was a gold gloves champion whose best years were wasted in prison, and he blames Creed for his imprisonment. Creed does feel guilt about this, so when Anderson is released from prison, he provides boxing facilities and instruction for Anderson so he can make a comeback.
By the unlikeliest of circumstances, Anderson gets a shot at the title against Felix Chavez. Anderson wins, by fighting dirty, but that is not enough. He still wants revenge against his old friend, so he starts publicly insulting and challenging Creed. Finally, Creed agrees to come out of retirement and fight Anderson. Creed feels guilty, not only for Anderson's imprisonment, but for not seeing the rage that Anderson brought to the Chavez fight, and how this mistake caused Chavez to be injured.
Creed has to work hard to get back into shape. This leads to a training montage, very similar to the one in Rocky IV. The climax of the montage has Creed triumphantly running up to the top of a mountain. This particular mountain turns out to be a lot more famous than the stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art where Rocky's statue is located. This scene is both cheesy and funny. It shows that the movie is quite aware of its own clichés.
Despite the well-worn path this story travels, it is very well acted and directed. As usual in this series, the fight scenes are expertly staged. The drama of the story is also effective. The drama includes Creed's wife, Bianca (Tessa Thompson, reprising her role from the previous Creed movies) daughter, Amara (Mila Davis-Kent) mother, Mary-Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad, also reprising her role from the previous Creed movies) and boxing coach, Tony "Little Duke" Evers Jr. (Wood Harris, also reprising his role from the previous Creed movies).
I liked the ending of the movie, which reaffirms the fact that this movie is not all about blood, violence, anger and hatred. It is also about love, friendship and respect. In this movie, the boxing ring is not just a place of violence. The ring is a crucible which reveals the true nature of the combatants. This film rates a B.
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