“One Step, One Punch, One Round at a Time”: 5 Creed Moments That Will Get You …

5 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

“One Step, One Punch, One Round at a Time”: 5 Creed Moments That Will Get You Through Any Workout.

For some people, finding the motivation just to make it inside the gym is a struggle, and getting pumped enough to truly kill it in the calorie-burning department is nearly impossible. About 90 minutes and several inspirational montages into Creed, Ryan Coogler’s installment in the Rocky series, we’re hit with an emotional curveball: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has lymphoma.After laying dormant for nine years, the Rocky franchise returns with the long-awaited seventh instalment and this time, it finally makes a huge comeback.

Stallone (“Rocky”) reprises his Oscar-winning role as Rocky Balboa but this time to take up the mantle of teacher and mentor to the son of his greatest rival in “Creed.” This is Creed as in Apollo Creed (played masterfully by Carl Weathers) who was at first Rocky’s foil turned best friend throughout the first four of the “Rocky” movies.As you’d expect from an installment of the long-running “Rocky” franchise, “Creed,” Ryan Coogler’s boxing movie, has bloody, well-choreographed match-ups and training sequences set to soaring music.

But 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. Creed’s gritty direction, sensational performances from Jordan and Stallone and surprising depth, packs a combination of punches that make the film both brilliant and entertaining. It was his buffed out looked that stunned audiences in “Rocky III” only to eventually be pounded into raw meat and die in the ring at the hands of Russian “boxer” Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in “Rocky IV.” And unless you have an old VHS video tape of these early “Rocky” movies hanging around, none of this will make any sense to you, except that before having his head squeezed into a used orange by the aforementioned Mr.

Creed is thankfully not a rematch between the old man and a cyborg clone of his dead friend and rival Apollo Creed – but the story of Apollo’s son Adonis. While the entire Ryan Coogler-directed film is an inspiring tale of resilience and love, we’ve chosen five moments that will definitely be replaying in your head next time you hit the pavement, field or gym floor. It’s been a long time since Stallone wore the leather jacket, walked about bouncing a tennis ball on the pavement and slurred: “Yo, Aaay-drian” at every opportunity he got in the first Rocky film.

Despite Rocky’s insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, he sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. If you haven’t seen Creed yet, first of all, you seriously need to get your priorities in order, and secondly, proceed with caution because there are major spoilers ahead.

The doctor who delivers the sobering news to Rocky informs him that, luckily, his cancer is in the early stages, and if he starts chemotherapy right away, he’s got a good chance at survival. Things eventually change for Donnie, who is Apollo’s illegitimate son, when he is taken in by his father’s widow Mary-Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad). Fast forward two decades and the glory of Rocky Balboa, the undisputed “Heavyweight Champion of the World” has long since faded with “The Rock” now running an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia called Adrian’s after his long dead wife (played by Talia Shire). As with “Fruitvale Station,” which chronicled the last day in the life of Oscar Grant before he was killed by a transit police officer on an Oakland BART platform, Coogler does something exceptionally rare in American movies: he takes a violent subject and uses it as an opportunity to celebrate tenderness and vulnerability in men. Also at cinemas is Victoria – a real-time thriller à la Hitchcock’s The Rope in which a young Spanish woman flirts with a local in Berlin – after which the night takes a turn for the deadly.

But he tells her somberly: “My wife tried that, it didn’t work.” He refuses the treatment, but when Adonis finds out about his diagnosis, the young trainee insists that he won’t continue training for his upcoming battle against the world light heavyweight champion “Pretty Ricky” Conlan unless his mentor goes through with chemo. “If you fight, I fight,” he tells a weary Rocky. Despite the success, Donnie still dreams of becoming a professional boxer, not because his father was one, but because he just can’t help this driving passion. With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title… but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring? This film is so personal to me. “Rocky” represents my relationship to my dad, because he’s the one who introduced me to it. “Rocky” is his favorite movie, Rocky’s his hero.

When Donnie takes on pro Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Andre Ward) in his late father’s famous Delphi Gym, he “learns the hard way” that his solo training hasn’t gotten him anywhere near ready to compete in the sport’s big leagues. On the surface, such an encouraging vote of confidence is a logical one—why would Rocky, one of the greatest fighters to ever live, “give up” on life when he can knock cancer out just as he did James “Clubber” Lang in Rocky III? It was one of those where there was a general feeling that it was time for Stallone (and his ageing crew) to throw in the towel and hang up Rocky’s gloves.

It was already pretty amazing that 2006’s Rocky Balboa (has it really been that long?) resurrected the long-dead franchise with a genuinely very good swan song for the iconic character but there’s something miraculous about the fact that we’re back again, nine years later, with another very fine Rocky movie that manages to take the very redundancy of Rocky and use it to create something surprisingly vital and fresh. But he’s also the sort of person who convinces Rocky to train him by unloading the aging ex-fighter’s delivery truck at the restaurant Rocky named for his late wife, and who finds himself thrilled by the music his girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) makes. But in crafting a symbolic parallel between a pugilistic sports match and living with cancer, Creed also indulges in uncomfortable, all-too-familiar metaphorical language around illness.

For all that the film focuses on Adonis Johnson (brilliantly portrayed by Michael B Jordan, redeeming himself nicely after the trainwreck that was Fantastic Four), the film is as much about Rocky Balboa as any of the six previous films. You know what is coming … the obligatory title boxing fight given to Creed, more so because of his father’s legacy than for his own fighting prowess, the training sequences with Rocky sticking his craggy face into the young fighter’s own, the pre-fight press conference, the weigh-in and of course, the title fight at the film’s closing.

Finally there’s Louder Than Bombs – it isn’t a Morrissey biopic as you’d be forgiven for thinking, but rather a multi-stranded drama about a family coping with loss by celebrated director Joachim Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt. The incredible single shot boxing match that no one can stop talking about is not only a face-melting piece of cinematic triumph, but also an incredibly motivating exhibition of strength and endurance. As others have noted in recent years, war analogies have become embedded in our discussions about cancer—we say someone is “battling” the disease, or that we need to help raise funds to “combat” it; those who don’t die directly from cancer are called “survivors.” It’s well-intentioned language, meant to inspire hope in the face of incredible illness.

Director Ryan Coogler and screenwriter Aaron Covington have put together a well-crafted script that parallels the first film while adding a new perspective. He may not throw a single punch in the film and he may have considerably less screen time than Adonis but the main thrust of the story is all about the contrast between Adnonis’ hunger, anger and youthful arrogance and Rocky’s almost zen-like acceptance of life’s fleetingness and his perhaps depressive feelings of obsolescence. Rocky even has a heart -attack and gets off his near deathbed to be at Creed’s side for the finale which you also know that this revised series will go on and on as long as pesos keep ka-chinging in at the theater cash registers.

In his first real match – against opponent Leo “The Lion” Sporino (real-life Philly boxer Gabe Rosado) – Adonis takes hit after hit, bouncing back immediately like someone’s landing kisses on his cheeks instead of fists. It’s a startling contrast that gives plenty of space for both characters to learn from one another and grow in ways that they would never have imagined but also single-handedly justifies the film’s very existence.

Our conversation discusses some of the plot points of “Creed.” I saw “Creed” on Saturday morning, because I wanted to add to Coogler’s opening weekend gross. Cinemateket is celebrating the birth of Baby Jesus with Life of Brian at 21.45 this Friday and the rest of Monty Python’s cinematic oeuvre over the coming weeks.

There is so much to love about Coogler’s flawless scene, but your adrenaline will especially be pumping when a victorious Donnie shouts, “We got one, Rock!” like a son elated to make his father proud. She praised him for avoiding much of the battle talk and downplaying his perceived superhero status, and wrote candidly of her personal experience with cancer within her family: “My mother lamented toward the end of her life, “Everyone always says to make the most of your time, but they don’t tell you that you won’t have an ounce of energy to do it with.”” When Rocky tells the doctor he has no intentions of being treated for cancer, it’s easy to see that he means it.

In Creed, Donnie comes from a wealthy background, but gives it up to pursue his passion for boxing, while also having to live in the shadow of his father. Much like a sucker-punch, only a pleasurable one, if there is such as thing, Creed is a welcome surprise that resuscitates an otherwise dying franchise. Yet another straight Rocky movie would probably have been pushing it after Rocky Balboa proved to be such a perfect capstone for the character and a total reboot – which they so could easily have done – would probably have felt even more worthless with its presumed repetition of such a well-known story. Clearly he can read a script and follow along the lines that are given to him but there is a sense of attraction in Jordan, of inner strength that with the right role, may one day earn himself an Academy Award. “Creed“ is an interesting mix of the Rocky mythology and “overcoming all the odds.” Certainly Jordan wants this series to continue with or without the aged Stallone by his side. Donnie’s entrance to his match against reigning light heavyweight champ “Pretty” Ricky Conlan does exactly what a boxing entrance should: intimidates you, inspires you and gets you really, really excited for the fight.

Coogler is a deft enough filmmaker not to resort to gimmicky flashbacks, but still, in this moment (and to Stallone’s credit in this performance), the viewer can fully sense that Rocky is recalling the last days of his beloved Adrian, and all the years he’s spent mourning her death. Written for the screen and directed by Ryan Coogler who himself is an up and coming African American director who has name his own claim to fame with the well done “Fruitvale Station” in 2013.

I recommend the one film she made with that other Swedish powerhouse named Bergman – Autumn Sonata is playing on Saturday at 15:00 – which turns a suburban home into a pressure cooker. With the perfectly selected “Hail Mary” bumping in the background, Adonis enters the arena where he’ll face the fight of his life with Rocky at his side. Creed is that rarest of things: a standalone film with real emotional punch and thematic complexity that also continues and expands upon a very well-established, now almost cliché franchise. Seeing somebody I knew who was so strong and who I identified his strength with what made him a man, seeing that taken away because of age and illness made me question a lot of things.

I thought “Creed” was excellent — and I say that as someone with no real knowledge of the original or its sequels, but I’ve talked to several die-hard “Rocky” fans who also thought the film was great. It’s a chamber drama between a mother and a daughter that features career bests from Bergman, Bergman and Liv Ullman – and that’s really saying something (dfi.dk/Filmhuset). Conlan’s home crowd erupts in boos for Adonis, who everyone essentially thinks is a lamb heading to slaughter, but the young boxer holds his head high and prepares for battle nonetheless. It may even open the way for a whole new series of films but so perfectly handled is it that it can’t help but feel like tempting the fates to try and continue the series, especially if they do so without Stallone.

I have always liked the “Rocky” series for its raw portrayal (and correct) of the street of Philadelphia of which Rocky trained to the blaring beat of Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” and his financial and social impact to the city for years earned him a larger than life bronze statue in the city center. If that’s not enough intensity for you, 1974 cult classic The Night Porter is playing at Huset (Wed 20:00, huset-kbh.dk) and stars Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling locked in a power play of a different kind to Bergman’s, exploring themes such as sadomasochism and Nazisploitation. But it’s also not a very palatable outcome for America’s favorite (fictional) boxer, whose legacy has been built explicitly around the notion of never “giving up” when the going gets tough. After starring in a string of flops – excluding The Expendables – over the last few years, Sylvester Stallone is back in top form and is easily the film’s big scene-stealer.

Those days, like the Rocky statue, are long gone but one day soon we may, if the box office receipts are strong enough, see a similar stature erected in the likeness of Mr. Admittedly, another montage after his diagnosis finds Rocky training Adonis in his hospital room while receiving treatment; it is quite touching, and more than a bit satisfying, even if you’re aware of the metaphor’s ick factor. From Rocky’s tear-inducing reminder – “They don’t know what you’ve been through, they sure don’t know what we’ve been through” – to watching Adonis take an onslaught of crushing blows before he even gets to round five, the climatic showdown is literally what mid-gym session fantasies are made of. But you’ll believe that you, too, can’t be stopped from getting back in the fight, or you know, doing your last 10 minutes on the Stairmaster, when Adonis unexpectedly rises from the canvas after a haunting montage of flashbacks.

Stallone has a “Hot Tub Time Machine” of his own that he can jump into and to reverse the aging of his 69 years and once again become the 30-year-old boxer the world fell in love with in the original Rocky (and earn yet another Best Picture Oscar), we will settle with Creed. It was somewhere between fan fiction and me trying to dedicate something with my father at a time I thought I was going to lose him. [His father is better now.] No, we decided three weeks out from production and it was a team effort. I worked with a great stunt coordinator named Clayton Barber and a great cinematographer, Maryse Alberti, and a great Steadicam operator, Ben Semanoff. She’s raised him exactly as an heir should be raised and they’re so close, though they may not even have had occasion to meet, had Don’s mother not died. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

I loved that she had a disability* — and that it heightened the stakes on her career goals (something a sequel would be able to explore really well). When the classic Rocky theme, Gonna Fly Now, does finally come in, therefore, it’s a fist-pumping, heart-leaping, smile-forming moment that proves once and for all just how bloody well everything else around it is working. She just encouraged his dream (in any other movie that would’ve been the obvious response, but in boxing films, women often seem pretty squeamish about bouts and their consequences).

At the moment Rocky is welcoming a return to training and the world of boxing, allowing himself to become a mentor and father figure to a fighter, he receives news that upends his sense of himself as a hero. You mentioned family as a major theme of “Creed,” but embedded within that was something that struck me even harder: this is a great movie about male vulnerability and tenderness. Rocky’s illness and Adonis’s ongoing responses to it (and to the small betrayals of aging and sickness that precede it) give the movie as much heart as the rousing soundtrack and underdog boxing moments do.

Coogler did so much of that so well, from Adonis helping Rocky spell “shadow” to Adonis blurting out that he needs his gloves cut off before his first big bout to Rocky walking Adonis to the ring for big fight, reassuring him, “I know you get nervous at times like this, but you can use that.” This film really is bursting with intimacy and tenderness. As beautifully rendered as their relationship was, Bianca was willing to let Adonis go after he nearly sabotaged a professional opportunity for her — and even a sincere apology wasn’t enough to immediately win her back. Given that she only has so much time to pursue her music before her hearing leaves her, her absence doesn’t mean she’s hanging around in suspended animation, but instead that she’s working. I actually wonder now if a director’s cut of the movie might feature a scene of Rocky tracking her down in some way and convincing her to come to the fight. While he’s pursuing boxing with great dedication, his drive is more about reconciling his internal conflict than achieving some sort of fame; Adonis doesn’t see his career as more important than hers, and he’s comfortable being her motivation if that’s what she wants.

On a personal note it reminds me of the dirtbike scene here in Baltimore and how significant it is to be surrounded by the love and respect of dirtbike boys — especially in a city where you aren’t a native son.

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