Tag Archives: Sylvester Stallone

Creed

Director: Ryan Coogler; Main Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa ThompsonTony BellewPhylicia Rashad;

creed

This film has been accused of retreading a very familiar story line and of being chock-full of sport movie cliches but, in the capable hands of two rising stars, Ryan Coogler as director and Michael B. Jordan as leading man, it manages to breath fresh air into a very stale franchise. I confess I didn’t watch past Rocky IV, maybe few bits and pieces of Rocky V. Anyway I was pleasantly surprised and moderately nostalgic watching this “sequel”.

Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (Jordan) is the illegitimate son of boxing legend Apollo Creed (really? Adonis son of Apollo? For real? Not even a tongue in cheek quip about it? Ok, then, moving on). He has never known his father and has had a troubled childhood after losing his mother. However his luck changes when Mary Anne (Rashad), Apollo’s widow, tracks him down and takes him in (what would you expect from Mrs. Huxtable?). Fast-forward a decade or so and we see Donnie with a nice job, after growing up in a beautiful home and receiving a good education. Unfortunately, he feels unsatisfied and meant for something different, the shadow of his famous father looming larger and larger, spurring him towards professional boxing.

The second and third act roll out as expected. The underdog (Donnie, not Rocky) fights against all odds figuratively and literally to prove that he’s not just a name but also he has what it takes to be a champion. After being told that he shouldn’t be a professional boxer by his stepmother and by Tony Jr. (Wood Harris), who is a trainer and a family friend, Donnie moves to Philadelphia to seek the help of another legend: Rocky Balboa. It will take some convincing but Rocky eventually accepts to be Donnie’s Mickey and the tale comes back full circle. We do get the training montage with a run through the streets of Philly, it’s a bit corny but strikes the right note with a combination of energy and nostalgia without outdoing it. The fighting scenes are more Raging Bull style than the original Rocky, there are less slow motion sequences and the viewer feels right in the middle of the ring. Even the romance between Donnie and Bianca (Thompson) is not too trite and it helps explore more Donnie as a character. Unfortunately that not the case for Bianca as per Hollywood standards, a well rounded portrayal of a woman is still too tricky!

The acting is what really works to the advantage of this film. Jordan is very convincing and he has a good chemistry with Stallone. The latter gives a nuances and touching portrayal of the old champ, a little worse for wear but with still some sparks in him. Coogler succeeds in offering a new perspective on a worn out story and making it enjoyable and involving.

Uplifting —7/10

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The Expendables 2

Director: Simon West, Main Cast: Sylvester StalloneJason StathamDolph LundgrenJean-Claude Van DammeChuck NorrisBruce WillisArnold SchwarzeneggerLiam HemsworthNan Yu;

the-expendables-2

They are back! For the aficionados of action movies and the nostalgics of the 80s/90s action heros, Stallone penned another story of the ragtag outfit of mavericks. All the usual suspects are there, plus a young addition (Hemsworth), the de rigueur, tough lady (Nan Yu) and special guest stars (Schwarzenegger and Norris). The film’s plot is very predictable and overly utilised: our heros are on a “regular” job and, after explosions and general carnage, they save the day (Jet Li makes his token appearance) and meet an old friend, Schwarzy; after going back to civilization and some R&R, CIA black ops specialist (Willis) shows up and make the usual offer they can’t refuse: retrieve some precious but mysterious item and get a full pardon for previous misdeeds. Naturally nothing goes according to plan due to the bad guy and his minions, this time is Van Damme who plays the villain (what’s the deal with being evil and having an accent?!?) and he’s pretty spry for an old man. He kills the young and full of promises hero, of course, and the mission for Stallone & Co. becomes not only saving the world but avenging the dead (nothing’s really new isn’t it?). So our misfits fight against overwhelming odds helped by Norris (who looks as lively as his Madam Tussaud’s likeness), the Gubernator and Willis, ça va sans dire, they succeed on all fronts. As viewer you get all the classics, including the final fist fight between the Good Guy and the Bad Guy (Stallone-Van Damme), the brooding, philosophical reflections about life from the hero and the sappy note from the deceased. Humour (planned and unintentional) and tongue-in-cheek references are not enough to save this uber cliched movie. —4/10

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