Viewed – 05 July 2016 Online rental
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Rocky franchise. I’ve watched the first, Oscar winning instalment several times and would be up for checking out the numerous sequels again one day. So I went into this quite hyped and was one of the people who really appreciated what Sylvester Stallone did with the last movie, Rocky Balboa.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan) is trying to make a name for himself despite the looming shadow of deceased father, renowned champ boxer Apollo Creed. He turns to his father’s former ageing friend and rival Rocky who is still running the restaurant in Philadelphia. With reluctance Rocky agrees to train Adonis and gradually help him rise up through the ranks of the local boxing circuit, before eventually attracting the big name fights. This is shot distinctly in a very authentic, realistic style with I’m guessing a lot of first time ‘from the neighbourhood’ or ‘from the boxing world’ actors. It’s a trick that worked very well indeed for Eastwood’s Gran Torino, but I’ll admit it seemed to bring the movie down a bit here with even Jordan coming off a bit amateurish; struggling with line delivery in a way I’d only expected from the mumbling Stallone. However with an earnest and believable turn from the Italian Stallion (especially in one emotional speech) and decent direction I still found this gripping. It doesn’t offer much new to the formula and is, bar the Creed connection another stab at what became Rocky 5 … but I still found myself swept up in Adonis’s journey and as that Rocky-theme kicked in during the final bout, I was buzzing.
It’s not the best Rocky movie or probably even the best boxing movie and falters in the casting where it could have shined, but for a realistic non-Hollywood boxing drama this still managed to … pack a punch (sorry).
Verdict: 3.5 /5