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Hollywood Rewind | Creed: The way ‘inspirational’ sports dramas should be made

Inspirational dramas. Nothing better than those when dreary life gets you down. Especially if they are half as well done as Creed.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
November 30, 2019 8:12:07 am
sylvester stallone and michael b jordan Creed was helmed by Black Panther director Ryan Coogler.

Creed movie cast: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Wood Harris
Creed movie director: Ryan Coogler
Creed movie rating: 4 stars

Sylvester Stallone is not exactly known for his acting chops. He has always played to his strength — good looks and some skills in the action department. Before the 1976 Rocky had released, the actor had featured in a few forgettable roles, and with Rocky, Stallone showed us there is much more to him as an actor. The underdog story connected with the audience. Of course, as it is with a successful film, Rocky went on to spawn several films in its universe. But the sequels lacked the punch of the original story. In came the duo of Ryan Coogler and Michael B Jordan with a spin-off called Creed and they changed everything for both Rocky as well as Stallone. Creed, much like Rocky, was showered with both critical and commercial acclaim, earning Stallone his career first Golden Globe in the Best Supporting Category. Stallone also bagged an Oscar nomination, his second since Rocky’s release. Now all of this happened because of a simple reason — the director and writers honoured the legacy of the ‘OG’ story by marrying it with creativity. So in the end, we get a mix of both — the nostalgic old world charm of the 1976 feature and the newness that the young blood brings with it. A fresh perspective.

Creed follows the story of Adonis Creed, the illegitimate child of the champion boxer who fought Rocky Balboa in the first film — Apollo Creed. Quick to anger, easy to forgive, determined to the point of stubborn and eager to carve a name of his own — that is Adonis aka Michael B Jordan for you. One may think that sports movies have no depth in them, and it is always about that one note of acting — ‘inspire the people.’ But Jordan, talented as he is, shows the viewers how wrong that assumption can sometimes be. The actor displays a gamut of emotions — the vulnerability of being abandoned, the strength of a being who never quits, the curiosity and hunger for knowledge and the ability to empathise. Adonis Creed is not just a boxer in the ring, but even out of it. And Coogler shows this to us by sometimes resorting to the cliche techniques of the genre and at other times, skillfully getting his artistes to perform the best they can whilst capturing their movements with extraordinary flair. Every missed punch and the ones that connect, the body shots, the jabs, the hooks — rythmic, not unlike a dancer.

The last fight between ‘Pretty’ Ricky Conlan and Adonis Creed is every bit the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat kind of drama that one can hope from the best two boxers in the world. The choreography, the slow-mo shots, the close-ups and the camera swaying along with the actors is a feast to watch. It is a great mix of the authentic and the dramatic, your blood surges as you see the hero get beaten to a pulp. A gory, glorious affair.

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As far as Stallone is concerned, he gives us enough daring peeks into the aging Rocky, so that you end up not only rooting for Creed, but for Rocky too. One might have thought the statement to be impossible after the original Rocky’s release, but Creed made it happen. Apart from Stallone and Jordan, there is Tessa Thompson, who plays the specially challenged Bianca, a singer-songwriter who suffers from progressive hearing loss. Her character, despite appearing only in a few sequences, leaves a lasting impression. This is largely because Thompson is a fabulous performer. She is not just the hero’s heroine, but her own woman with a passion and dream to chase. She is kind, funny, and sometimes angry, but always willing to lend a ear (pun not intended).

Inspirational dramas. Nothing better than those when dreary life gets you down. Especially if they are half as well done as Creed.

Creed is available for streaming on YouTube.

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