By Santiago Brion | March 13, 2023
“Creed III,” is the third movie of the “Creed” trilogy and the eighth installment of the “Rocky” franchise. The new trilogy follows the rise of Adonis “Donnie” Johnson Creed, the son of Rocky Balboa’s former rival/friend, Apollo Creed. Through Rocky’s mentorship, Adonis follows in his late father’s footsteps to become one of the best pound-for-pound boxers ever.
This time around, Adonis lived up to Apollo’s legacy by becoming the world heavyweight champion. Three years after he had his match with Victor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago, one of Rocky’s rivals, Adonis is now retired, has the perfect life, and is settled down. He also co-owns Apollo’s gym with one of his trainers, Little Duke, now called “Adonis Athletics”. When an old friend from his past, Damian Johnson, shows up after being in prison for 18 years, he’s eager to get his shot in the ring. Dame’s determination ultimately splits the former friends. Not only does Donnie have to fight Dame, he has to fight for his future.
Michael B. Jordan directing another “Rocky” franchise had me pretty skeptical since I wasn’t sure how he could replicate what Ryan Coogler did with the first Creed movie. There was also the fact that Sylvester Stallone wasn’t going to return to his iconic role due to a contract dispute. However, the film does a great job of centering Adonis and the legacy he has built. I didn’t mind that Rocky wasn’t seen or mentioned because I wanted to see Michael B. Jordan and Jonatha Majors duke it out.
The film shows that MBJ knows his way around a camera, and how well he shows the development from being an underdog boxer in Los Angeles to an experienced fighter with a title to his name. Adonis in “Creed III” is a well-respected businessman mentoring his boxers at Adonis Athletics to become as great as he is. His personal life is laid back with him, his wife Bianca, and their deaf daughter Amara living in a fancy condo. Bianca is a respected R&B singer/producer while Amara goes to a school for hearing impaired children. He certainly knocks it out of the ring once again as the lead character.
The way that Jordan directs the boxing sequences is something that’s especially unique compared to others from the franchise. In interviews, MBJ teased that he incorporated a lot of anime influences into this movie. He cites Hajime no Ippo, a boxing Manga series, as an influence on “Creed III.” There are also sequences influenced by the iconic sports anime in which there are slo-mo moments of every punch that Donnie gives and takes. There’s one memorable scene where Donnie’s punched in the gut by Dame during the third act. It’s no secret that Michael B. Jordan is a huge anime fan, with his Erik Killmonger outfit being inspired by Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z and Naruto being his favorite anime.
Jonathan Majors is a highlight of the film. Like his role in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” Majors turns in a scene-stealing performance, this time as an old friend from Donnie’s past who challenges him and everything that he has worked so hard for in life. You can’t help but recognize him as a quiet menace that he portrays when he’s first introduced, leaning on Donnie’s fancy car in front of his gym. He further shows his intentions when he knocks out Felix Chavez, a fellow boxer in the gym, and lives up to the villain role by showing off Majors’ jacked physical prowess making him a much tougher opponent than any fighter that Donnie has faced. He is the best “Rocky” franchise villain since Clubber Lang from “Rocky III.”
There are interesting parallels between both characters that make their rivalry compelling. In one scene Dame looks at himself in the mirror which has two newspaper cutouts, one of a promotional poster of him and Drago, and another of his Golden Gloves win when he was 18. This shows that Dame never got to achieve the same success as Donnie thus giving him motivation to come for it all.
The boxing sequence in the third act dubbed “The Battle of Los Angeles” is one of the best sports action sequences of the 21st century so far. The IMAX experience makes you feel like you’re actually watching the Creed-Dame match.
The movie is all about the past coming back to haunt you even when you least expect it, and facing it head on. Overall, “Creed III” is a fun and visually interesting installment of the 30-year-old franchise and shows that the sports movie genre is going strong. Michael B. Jordan’s acting and directing is fantastic, Jonathan Majors steals the show, and has the best third act of the Creed trilogy.