By: Eric “El Camino” Rivera
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been chomping at the bit for the movie, “CREED” to come to theaters from the time I watched the first teaser trailer back in July. Being from Philadelphia, the entire “Rocky” franchise runs threw my veins like blood, even the not so good sequels (Rocky V anyone). I knew about the movie months prior to the actual trailer. Given the fact that most of the movie was shot here, and casting calls for boxers, motorbike riders, and other local talents were being recruited for the movie, you would have to be living under a rock (pun intended) for you not to know that a new “CREED” movie was being shot in town.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend. The moment I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived, and “CREED” did not disappoint. There are a vast amount of words that I’m going to use to describe this movie. To sum it up in one word, I’ll have to describe this movie as “EXCELLENT”. I struggled as to whether or not I should use the word “AUTHENTIC” to describe the movie, but that would only describe one part of the movie. This movie is one part a passing of the baton, or possibly the fitting end to a franchise that spans generations. The second part is paying homage to past Rocky characters, and moments. The final part is a love letter to “The City of Philadelphia”.
Without giving away too many spoilers, this story basically touches on the issues that Adonis “Donny” Johnson-Creed (played by Michael B. Jordan) has with being the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed, being a boxer living in his father’s shadow, realizing his self-worth, while struggling with coming into his own identity. He eventually moves to Philadelphia to pursue his boxing career. There, he looks up Rocky Balboa (played by Sylvester Stallone) and confronts him on his relationship with Apollo Creed, and his relation to Apollo. Rocky’s character is much older, and has left the boxing world behind.
As Donny trains, he stops by every once in a while to check out his “Unc” Rocky. Although Rocky doesn’t want anything to do with his boxing career, he eventually helps him out with a couple of drills. Their relationship begins to pick up from there.
Donny’s character eventually meets a young lady living in his building by the name of Bianca (played by Tessa Mae Thompson). Her role in this movie is of a Philadelphia native musician, who teaches Donny about what it is to be from Philadelphia. From teaching him about what a “ Jawn” is, taking him to the best cheesesteak spot in Philadelphia (“Max’s Steaks” on Germantown & Erie Ave.), while revealing to him some of her vulnerabilities. Their attraction obviously grows from there. Donny still struggles with revealing his true identity, so for now he keeps his paternal origin a secret.
As Donny’s relationship with both Rocky & Bianca continue to grow, we begin to see the struggles that befall Rocky. As the years went by, more of Rocky’s loved ones has either passed away, or moved away. So solitude has begun to take its toll on Rocky’s life upon meeting Donny. As the movie progresses, we begin to see that this movie is just as much about Donny & Rocky filling a much needed void left in both their lives, as it is with Adonis coming into his true identity.
In true Rocky fashion, the climax of the movie is when Adonis fight’s the reigning world champion boxer.
I must really tip my hat off to Sylvester Stallone & Aaron Covington for writing such a great script, and Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), for directing such an excellent movie. As I stated before, this movie (in part) could definitely be a passing of the guard, because “CREED” could become a franchise within itself, if done right. I personally hope it does not. I would rather this movie be a fitting fair well to a famous franchise that spanned generations.
This movie really came full circle with Rocky becoming Adonis’ coach and giving him life lessons, just as Mic gave Rocky in the premier movie. In this installment of “CREED”, there were many nods given to the Rocky movie’s that preceded it. The scene with Donny running with the motor bikes riding beside him just screamed of the authenticity of the motor bike culture that resides in Philly, and rings in the new generation of the “Italian Market” running scene. At the end of that scene, where Adonis was looking up at Rocky from the Gym window calling him out, is a nod to Rocky running to Father Carmine’s window asking him to throw down a blessing before his fight (which really touched my heart).
I especially want to thank Ryan Coogler (or his location scout) for highlighting 2 spots in particular. The first spot is “Max’s Steaks”, located at Germantown & Erie. He could have easily used one the “go to” spots like Pat’s or Geno’s to get his cheesesteak “spot shot”. But instead, he went to the realest, and the best cheesesteak spot in Philadelphia. If you love cheesesteaks, and you’re not afraid to go on a mission to get one, then “Max’s Steaks” is where you get your cheesesteak. The second spot is “The Electric Factory”. This venue is where many local talents get their break on the big stage. You would have to be a musician from Philly, or have come to Philadelphia to perform there in order to know about it. Many mega stars have performed on that stage. They used this spot to shoot the scene when Bianca (Tessa Thompson’s) character was scheduled to perform.
Even the musical scores that took place in the movie came from Philadelphia artists, ranging from “The Roots” to “Meek Mill”.
Now I knew this movie was going to be good, but I wasn’t prepared for how authentic & excellent this movie was going to be. There was no fluff, no gimmicks. Just straight up, heart touching acting (with a couple of funny parts) that speaks of the audience’s ability to identify with the characters. To sum things up, this piece of cinema was much more than just a boxing movie. I highly recommend seeing this movie at least once while it’s still in theaters. I hereby give this movie the rating of 4.75 cosmic afro’s.