By Victoria Alexander
I’m a big boxing fan and director Jordan delivers. He also gives Jonathan Majors a startling, overwhelming presence. Majors is the reason to see CREED lll. The fight scenes are amazing.
I didn’t miss Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) in CREED III. How many of us keep friends, colleagues, mentors, and boxing coaches for all of our lives? The Rocky Universe is made up of the six Rocky films and the 3 spin-off film series CREED (2015), Creed ll (2018) and now CREED lll. That amounts to nine films over 47 years!
Wisely, star Michael B. Jordan negotiated his contract to direct CREED lll. Jordan’s foray into starring and directing is first-rate. And, as a director, he generously structures Jonathan Majors performance instilling it with a dynamic, star-making vehicle. It is a masterful performance that a lesser star would have curtailed. Jordan allows Majors to dominate the film.
Jonathan Majors is fantastic and he owes it to his director.
Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) is a now living the life of a hallowed, former world champion. He has a mansion in Los Angeles, a devoted wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and hearing-impaired daughter Amara (Mila Davis-Kent). Deaf children are very present in movies. I am confused about this. Is this to humanize the star? Bianca has given up performing and now manages singers. Adonis has a well established gym training a new generation of fighters.
I am pleased that retired champion Floyd Mayweather has been soundly humiliated in his latest exhibition match. UK boxing fans announced they were not interested in seeing Mayweather dancing for eight rounds, especially after bragging his exhibition matches were “legalized bank robbing.” Well, the lipstick is off the pig: Mayweather’s recent February exhibition was held in the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in London. No one showed up. The venue was largely empty. Organizers desperately tried to sell tickets for as cheap as £5 ($5.97) on the day, but still hardly sold any with the entire top tier at The O2 shut off. The UK fans foiled Mayweather’s bank heist career.
Adonis has earned his blessed life until a childhood friend, Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors), turns up. Damian has spent the last 18 years in prison. When we are shown in flashbacks what happened that led to Damian’s crime, young Adonis owes young Damian big time. As teenagers, Damian was a rising boxing hopeful and Adonis was his sole support. When a brawl occurred, that Adonis instigated, he ran when police arrived. Damian was arrested yet never implicated his friend. Now, Damian has come to Los Angeles.
Damian has watched Adonis’s illustrious career from prison and even though he is not in his 20s, he used the prison gym to keep his fighting skills sharp. Damian wants to train at Adonis’s gym for a title fight. Duke (Wood Harris), who runs Adonis’s gym, does not want Damian anywhere near the gym. Adonis allows Damian to spar with the current World Heavyweight Champion Felix “El Guerrero” Chavez (Jose Benavidez). Nobody wants to spar with Chavez because he’s too aggressive, but Damian is more than eager to be his sparring partner and becomes far more aggressive than Chavez.
Taking a page from the original ROCKY, Damian wants “an unknown getting a shot at the title” like Apollo Creed gave to local club fighter Rocky Balboa. Chavez is about to fight Victor Drago (Florian Munteau), Adonis’s rival in CREED II, but a violent incident causes Drago to drop out of the fight. There’s an open slot to fight Chavez and, with Damian’s pleading, Adonis agrees to have him fight Chavez.
After winning the title from Chavez, there is only one opponent Damian wants: Adonis Creed.
Ignoring the reality of boxing, Damian doesn’t seem to have a manager, trainers or a social media platform. When Damian reaches the world championship and provokes a match with Adonis, we are ready for the number one reason to love these boxing films: How the men prepare for the fight. While Adonis is fit, he is not in heavyweight boxing shape. Here is where the iconic Rocky formula has become a necessary trope. It has set the stage for all pre-boxing shows, boxing matches and boxing films. We want to see the men suffer. We want to see Adonis pull a jet plane. We want to see Adonis’s and Damian’s bodies develop extraordinary perfection.
Heavyweight fighters spend most of their time working on technique. After that, they work on cardio and endurance. Lastly comes strength training. A visible six pack won't do anything for them in terms of advantage in fighting. Look at current WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. He’s 6’9” and currently 269 lbs. He is not sporting a Rocky/Adonis/Damian physique. If you didn’t know who Fury was, you’d say: “He’s out of shape.”
As director, Jordan is ably assisted by cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau, editors Jessica Backesse and Tyler Nelson, and fight choreographer Mark R. Miscione. And let’s not forget the stunt doubles who had to train just as hard as Jordan and Majors. The massive special effects staff on IMDb.com clearly shows how much work was done in creating CREED lll. Stallone has stated he would return to CREED lV under one condition (his feud with Irwin Winkler over ownership rights)* but let’s not forget Stallone still has a huge financial stake in the franchise’s spin-off.
Stallone has a hit with the TULSA KING series and an eight-episode reality show, The Family Stallone, set to air. The Family Stallone features the star, his wife, Jennifer Flavin Stallone and nepo-daughters Sophia, Sistine, and Scarlet. It’s the price to pay for not getting a scandal-rich divorce.
The new heirs of stardom are the privileged children of famous people. It’s been the way of royalty for thousands of years and dictators. Now it is the domain of show business.
*According to Variety’s headline: ‘I Wanted to Leave Something of Rocky for My Children.’ Stallone had some unruly words against Winkler, calling him “a knife-tongued serpent,” implying that the producer behind the ROCKY films and it’s sequel series CREED is withholding a significant financial stake in the franchise from the actor. I think we should start a GoFundMe for Stallone’s children. Stallone fears his daughters will live in poverty and forced to open OnlyFans accounts.
“The ALL is Mind; The Universe is Mental.”
Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer Critic. For a complete list of
Victoria Alexander's movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes go to:
Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society
Personal email: email@example.com