Envy is among the most raw of human traits, and incidentally, of any great villain, and the antagonist of “Creed III” has plenty of that corrosive emotion to spare in his titanic fists.
Michael B. Jordan makes a very strong directorial debut here with “Creed III”, continuing the journey of Adonis Creed in a new direction with one of the most aggressive-yet-sympathetic villains either he or the Italian Stallion have ever fought.
So, let’s turnbuckle up for some powerful, thunderous boxing battles in KFK’s review of “Creed III”!
In addition to directing the movie, Michael B. Jordan is back as Adonis “Donnie” Creed, with Tessa Thompson also returning as his wife Bianca, and Wood Harris reprising his role of Tony “Little Duke” Evers.
Jonathan Majors plays Donnie’s old friend-turned-adversary Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson, with Phylicia Rashad again playing Donnie’s adoptive mother Mary Anne Creed.
Jacob “Stitch” Duran and Viktor played by Florian “Big Nasty” Munteanu also return (from the prior appearances in the “Creed ” franchise) as Stich and Viktor Drago. Additionally, Mila Davis-Kent appears as Donnie and Bianca’s young daughter, Amara Creed.
After a prosperous career as the world heavyweight boxing champ, Adonis “Donnie” Creed has spent several years in retirement, raising his deaf daughter Amara with the help of his wife Bianca.
Donnie also continues to run the Delphi Gym with his former trainer Lil’ Duke, and receives a surprise visitor from his past in his childhood friend Damian “Dame” Anderson.
Both Donnie and Damian had their brushes with the law as kids, but Damian is just coming back from an 18-year prison sentence when he pulled a gun to save Donnie during a street fight.
Donnie offers to help Damian in his aspirations to start a professional boxing career, but Lil’ Duke and others are concerned about Damian’s visible aggression in the ring.
Before long, it becomes clear that Damian blames Donnie for the prison sentence that ruined his life, with Damian revealing that “I’m coming for everything!”
While the first two “Creed” movies had stories that were built on the “Rocky” franchise’s classic underdog story template, “Creed III” is much more straightforward in its tale of Damian’s bitterness and vendetta against Donnie.
“Creed III” Gets Right to the Point
Of course, that hardly means that “Creed III” is dumbed-down in its conflict, but like Damian himself, it makes a beeline to what it’s after.
With Donnie beginning the movie living the dream in his retirement with Bianca and Amara, “Creed III” is the chapter of the series that takes the longest to show the antagonist’s perspective.
The promise of Damian’s early Golden Gloves boxing career hangs right in front of him every minute of the day in Donnie’s rags-to-riches story.
Returning to his crummy apartment from an evening at Donnie’s palatial estate, Damian’s far from the first antagonist to be driven by envy, but his and Donnie’s history still makes it as relatable as it gets for the audience.
Jonathan Majors is a Tour De Force as Damian
By the standards of great “Rocky” and “Creed” villains, Jonathan Majors’ performance as Damian is already one for the books.
Damian’s friendly grin masks just how much rage he’s kept bottled up for 18 years, and it seeps through much more gradually than you’d expect for a guy in his situation.
Majors is as adept at emotional manipulation as Damian himself, winning over the audience with his genuine underdog story without ever letting on just how far he’s prepared to push the envelope until it’s too late. Which brings us to where every “Creed” movie thrives most.
The Fights in “Creed III” are Out of this World
The boxing fights of the “Creed” movies have consistently managed to one-up themselves, but “Creed III” is really a sight to behold even by that standard.
With Clayton Barber once again returning as second-unit director, the action of “Creed III” is fast, breathtaking, and powerful to the point of being worthy of the best a Hong Kong action movie can offer.
Donnie’s retirement mostly keeps him on the sidelines after the opening fight of his blazing rematch with “Pretty” Ricky Conlan, which further allows Damian to steal the show as a ring warrior who cannot be stopped in his climb to the top (even if he has to throw in the occasional illegal elbow strike to do it).
With its requisite boxing and training sequences hitting the mark at every turn “Creed III” still leaves the best for last when Donnie and Damian finally meet in the ring in a smackdown of dead-even opponents.
What sets it apart is the cosmetic additions Jordan brings, with the cheering crowd fading away as Donnie and Damian duke it out in a black void surrounded by prison bars. And when it comes to slow-mo money shots of punches landing, “Creed III” has knockout punches to spare.
Michael B. Jordan Makes a Fantastic Directorial Debut
In stepping into the director’s chair for the first time, Michael B. Jordan shows the same remarkable confidence and natural skill that he always has as Donnie.
While he keeps the emotional stakes and dramatic elements of “Creed III” palpable, the way he captures the fight scenes indicate he could have a serious future in action filmmaking.
One certainly hopes that Jordan gets further opportunities to stretch his muscles in this arena after delivering the first, truly incredible showdown of 2023, and putting himself through no shortage of physical taxation in doing so.
A Michael B. Jordan-directed “Creed IV” already looks better than ever by the end of “Creed III”…
While “Creed III” is arguably the most basic of the “Creed” franchise in terms of emotional stakes and boxing as a metaphor for the trials of life, it still hits with more power than ever.
Not unlike Michael B. Jordan himself, Jonathan Majors cements his acting chops and star power with his debut in the “Creed” series alongside Jordan’s own stellar command as a first-time director.
Talk about outdoing itself yet again, the boxing battles of the “Creed” movies just keep getting better and better, with “Creed” wowing more than ever as the “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” of the franchise!
- “You think you’re mad?! Try spending half your life in a cell watching someone else live your life!” – Damian (to Donnie.)
- “Okay, see you in a minute!” – Damian (after the end of round one in his and Donnie’s fight.)
- “Yeah, I’ll be right back!” – Donnie (in reply.)
Soundtrack: Training Montage
- Michael B. Jordan is a big anime fan, and has stated that he put a major anime influence on the fight scenes of “Creed III”, specifically “Naruto” and “Dragon Ball Z”.
- The movie was initially set to be released in November of 2022, before being pushed back to March 3, 2023.
- “Creed III” was released just two weeks after the MCU film “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”, in which Jonathan Majors also plays the villain, Kang the Conqueror.