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Stars: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Tony Bellew, Ritchie Coster

Director: Ryan Coogler

Anyone expecting a revisionist version of the 'Rocky' legend from writer-director Coogler, after his excellent if controversial Fruitvale Junction, had better think again: this is traditional Rocky territory right down to the bloodbath battle of a championship boxing match at the end.

Coogler's screenplay supposes that Apollo Creed, Rocky's old opponent and one-time heavyweight champ, now long since passed away, had a son born 'out of wedlock' as they say, who was later taken in by Creed's wife (Rashad), but grew up an angry young man always into fights.

As a man (Jordan, the star of Fruitvale, but much buffed up for this role), Adonis quits his white-collar job and, with 15 'underground' boxing wins under his belt, goes to Philadelphia to track down Rocky Balboa (Stallone), still running his deceased wife Adrian's restaurant, and out of the training business.

Stallone perfectly correlates a now-shuffling Rocky with his early portraits, while giving him a little more humour and vulnerability; and of course he agrees to train Creed Jr who, after one unexpected win against a ranked opponent, is improbably matched with Liverpool's light-heavyweight world champion, 'Pretty' Ricky Scanlon (real-life champ Bellew, who does a decent acting job).

The boxing choreography at the end is pretty good, although not up that of Rocky or Raging Bull: some of the 'connecting' punches do seem to be obviously missing. And Rocky's conversation with his protegé between the final two rounds does appear to go on far beyond the allotted minute.

Still, even given the overlong runtime, this is good value for fans of the series, who'll also welcome a burst of the traditional Rocky music, even if they have to wait for it almost as long as the final fight.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers (Warners/MGM). Colour by deluxe.
133 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 10 Jan 2016