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Life for Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan) has always been a struggle.  He has moved from one facility to another under the care the state constantly fighting for his place in society.  When he is adopted by Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), he learns that his father was actually legendary fighter Apollo Creed who had a dalliance with his mother and died before Adonis was born.  Flash forward year’s later, despite a life of privilege and a good job, Adonis yearns to be a boxer and follow in his father’s footsteps.  Unable to secure fights, he travels across the border to fight on the circuit in Mexico where he is undefeated.  When able to quench his conflicting emotions, Adonis moves to Philadelphia to live a simpler life.  He hopes to take pointers from his father’s chief rival and longtime friend Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), but is at first hesitant to reveal his true connection to Creed.  This is the promise of the new film “Creed”, which is a very worthy and in joy of all entry into the popular “Rocky” series. In older, more cautious and world beaten Balboa is hesitant to go back into the world that made him a household name, but eventually is determined to train the young boxer and in doing so both of them learn what it is to be a champion in and out of the ring.

There is the uplifting training and human stories that made the series so popular but what really keeps this from being a retread is the solid work of Jordan and Stallone.  Jordan is very much his own character and not trying to copy his father.  He is headstrong, impulsive, quick to anger, but also willing to listen to the wisdom of Rocky.  Stallone does perhaps his best work in a very long time in a supporting role by playing a more vulnerable and wise character that is not afraid to show his humanity.  This is a very welcome change for the actor who is best known as larger-than-life and unstoppable in many of the roles that he portrays.  I know it would be considered a long shot but this is the type of performance that veteran actors get award nominations for in a supporting role.

Of course Johnson is leading up to his big fight with destiny that will either make or break him against an overwhelmingly unstoppable opponent but the well-choreographed and paste fight sequences will have you on the edge of your seat and captivated much like the best sequences from the earlier Rocky films.

This was a very solid and entertaining film that should delight fans of the series as well as sports films in general and was one of the most enjoyable surprises of the year.

4 stars out of 5

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