Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: We all remember the two epic boxing slugfests between Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa, and Apollo Creed. Actually there was a third private boxing match; you’ll hear the untold result of that in this story. In present times, Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of Apollo Creed, but that fact has been kept on the down low. Adonis has grown up as a troubled young man, quick to let his temper get the better of him, and does time in a juvenile facility. Adonis gets his life turned around with the help of Apollo’s widow, Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad), and seems on track for a successful career as a business man.
But Adonis has that itch to see if he has the talent that his father had, and starts to fight low talent boxers in Tijuana bar rooms. Having some success south of the border, Adonis figures it is time to become a full time professional boxer, and seeks out his father’s nemesis and friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Rocky has little interest in the fight game anymore; he owns a restaurant (Adrian’s), and is moving kind of slow these days. Rocky also still keeps tabs on Mighty Mick’s Boxing facility, and soon Adonis and Rocky hook up to train. When Adonis is not training, he has his eye on Bianca (Tessa Thompson), the lovely singer in the apartment below him. And somewhere down the road is “Pretty” Ricky Conlan (Tony Bellow)….
This is a good boxing story with plenty of realistic action in the ring. Michael B. Johnson is fine in the starring role, but it is the aging Rocky Balboa that steals the show. Stallone shows some range in what is presumably the final appearance of Rocky, and it is a fine way for Balboa to end his saga. Possibly even a shot at a Best Supporting nomination for Stallone.
Dialogue Nuggets: Rocky to Adonis – “Your Daddy died in the ring. This ain’t no joke!”
Adonis to Rocky – “I heard about a third fight behind closed doors.” Rocky – “How’d you hear about that?” Adonis – “Since we’re pretty much family, who won the third fight?”
Rocky – “Philly fighters, I think they’re the toughest in the world.”
Doctor – “Is that the first time you’ve fallen down?” Rocky – “Without being punched?”
Rocky – “I just want to see if I can get up those steps. When you get to the top, you think you can fly….I think they added a few steps.”
And By The Way: Tony Bellow is not just another actor trying to look tough in the ring. He is known as Tony “Bomber” Bellow, and is a three time ABA Heavyweight Champion.