Creed is a retread and an uninspired spin-off of Rocky but it’s serviceable enough as an entertaining boxing flick thanks to great performances and immersive action.

Adonis Johnson never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. He tracks down Rocky and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring. With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title.

As per one of Hollywood’s unwritten rules, black actors can only be famous one at a time. This recent year’s IT Boy is Micheal B. Jordan, chosen to lead a spin-off because Sylvester Stallone is too old and the Rocky franchise has been squeezed dry.

After a great performance in the emotional manipulative Oscar bait Fruitvale Station, Jordan teams-up again with Ryan Coogler. Jordan is one of the top talents in his generation so it’s no surprise that he did well as a kid with daddy issues and a chip on his shoulder. Sylvester Stallone stretches some acting muscles and delivers a great performance. Both characters sell their roles well and it’s one of the reasons why Creed manages to be engaging despite its predictable plot.

The other reason is deft camerawork inside the ring. Creed is no Raging Bull but it still has immersive dynamic visuals, especially in the third act when the out-of-a-dream fight finally happens. There’s a slow motion shot here that is riveting and beautiful at the same time. The introduction of the fighters itself is great in putting you in Adonis Johnson’s perspective.

Sadly though, this movie is too preoccupied in digging through the Rocky archives rather than creating a compelling platform for what will inevitably be the Creed franchise. The movie is just a repackaged version of the original Rocky.

It didn’t help that Adonis is not a compelling character when the comparison between him and the Italian Stallion comes to mind. The neglected love interest Bianca is also more interesting. Both characters have relatable bittersweet lives driven by a passion that is both a blessing and a sacrifice. Johnson on the other hand, is your typical chosen one burdened by a name from a man he didn’t even know.

It’s easy to think that this premise, and the whole intention behind this spin-off, is a profit driven move by producers who want to take advantage of audiences demanding diversity. In the continuing trend of revamping studio milestones for modern audiences, Creed is essentially a far-fetched offshoot created in the hopes of making money from nostalgic fans and new audiences.

It’s unsure if the fans, especially the ones who are growing tired of Hollywood remakes, will appreciate a tacked on spin-off. However, it can be said that Creed is an enjoyable movie for new and converted audiences.

The heart of the franchise is lost as genuine drama about a loser-turned-hero is replaced for a crowdpleaser about embracing your own legacy, but Creed still manages to be a serviceable boxing flick.

My Rating: 6/10

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