- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Rocky Balboa returned to the ring last year to train the son of his former adversary and eventual friend Apollo Creed in Creed (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $35.99, 132 minutes), an excellent sports drama from sophomore director Ryan Coogler.

Its arrival on Blu-ray gives old and new fans of the Rocky films a chance to appreciate Sylvester Stallone as he reprises a legendary role that led to an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

The story follows the tough life of the illegitimate child of Mr. Creed, Adonis “Donnie” Johnson (played passionately by Michael B. Jordan), and his unquenchable desire to box. He connects with Rocky in Philadelphia and convinces the old timer to become his trainer.

Of course, the kid gets his chance to fight a champion, but he and Mr. Balboa will need to find that eye of the tiger to prepare for the battle.

Mr. Stallone plays Rocky perfectly as a Yoda-like, sage, erring on the side of caution for his young protege but willing to take him to a new level of excellence.

It’s almost a quintessential “Rocky” movie for a new generation, not quite as heartwarming as the early efforts but still a wonderful movie loaded with themes about love, family, sacrifice and testing the will of the human spirit.

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The digital transfer highlights some dynamic fight sequences often touting real boxers. It also makes the final boxing match uncomfortably realistic, with the assortment of injuries amassing during the rounds guaranteed to cause liberal wincing from viewers and nail biting to the finger nubs.

An underwhelming assortment of extras makes “Creed” tough to endorse for purchase, but it’s a highly recommended rental.

They include a dozen deleted scenes, 5 minutes of Mr. Jordan training to become Adonis Creed and a short, 15-minute look at the 40-year-old Rocky franchise and the character’s inspiration to real fighters.

The segment includes interviews with mixed-martial-arts bruisers Miesha Tate and Chuck Liddell and many of the professional fighters that assumed roles in the movie, including Andre Ward (Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler), Gabriel Rosado (Leo “The Lion” Sporino) and Tony Bellew (“Pretty Ricky” Conlan).

It also features footage from the previous films with a look at Apollo Creed, Drago and Mr. T and plenty of words by Mr. Stallone.

I would have loved an optional commentary track with the young director and a full-length documentary on the history of the “Rocky” films.

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• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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