Michael B. Jordan (left) stars as Adonis Creed and Jonathan Majors (right) as Damian Anderson in “Creed III” (Photo Credit: Eli Ade/2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Inc.).
(“Creed III” trailer courtesy of MGM)
Rap icon Drake once bragged about how he started from the bottom, but now he is here with here meaning on top of the rap game.
In “Creed III,” heavyweight boxing champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) can say the same thing.
In the first two installments from the “Creed” trilogy, Adonis quickly moved from group homes to mansions to the top of the boxing world.
But in “Creed III,” director Jordan goes more into detail about Adonis’ rocky road to stardom, creating the most emotional movie of the trilogy with only a few noticeable hiccups for the first-time filmmaker.
“Creed III” begins as Adonis is ending his career on top of the pugilistic plateau.
The illegitimate son of the late, great boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) from the “Rocky” franchise has decided to hang up his gloves for good while focusing on his duties as a girl dad and his duties running his prestigious gym.
In “Creed III,” Adonis even has a young protégé who is the best thing to hit boxing since Adonis retired three years earlier.
Adonis is working with young champion, Felix Chavez (Jose Benavidez).
The young bull is so tough that it has almost become impossible to find boxers willing to spar with him.
Despite Chavez’ greatness, he is not the only great fighter on the scene.
Previous years have seen the greatness of Ukrainian boxer Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu, “Creed II”) continue, despite his two “losses” to Adonis.
Channeling his inner Don King, Adonis begins hyping a much-anticipated match between his fighter Chavez and his former opponent, Drago.
Adonis has made millions as a boxer, in addition to the riches made by his musician wife Bianca (Tessa Thompson).
But Adonis sees even more wealth coming as a trainer and boxing promoter.
Just as Adonis is settling into his new role as a retiree, a blast from the past blows into town, or at least into his gym’s parking lot.
After watching his fighters train for an entire day, Adonis comes out of the gym to find a stranger leaning on his Rolls Royce.
Now, it takes some serious “onions” to lean on someone else’s car, especially if the car is of the luxury variety.
But it takes even bigger “onions” to lean on a luxury car owned by the former heavyweight champion of the world.
But when it is an old childhood friend that a person has not seen in almost 20 years then the disrespectful culprit might get a pass.
The old friend that has resurfaced in Adonis’ life is an old buddy from his group home days, Damian “Dame” Anderson (Jonathan Majors, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”).
However, after almost 20 years of no contact, is an old friend still a real friend?
Most people change a lot in 20 years’ time.
Just because two people shared a bond or brotherhood back in the day does not always mean that the friendship will carry over to the new day.
To make maintaining long term friendships even more difficult for Adonis and Dame, however, is the fact of how far Adonis has come in 20 years and how much Dame is stuck in the past.
Famously, Adonis went from group home fights to living a life of luxury with Mary-Ann Creed (Phylicia Rashad), fighting in underground fights in Mexico to becoming the talk of ESPN, which led to his own riches, apart from his wealthy parents.
However, how does that make old friends like Dame feel?
To paraphrase rapper Kendrick Lamar, they smile in his face but are they happy for him?
To make matters trickier, fight fans in Los Angeles once saw young Dame (Spence Moore II) as the next great thing in boxing, not young Adonis (Thaddeus J. Mixson).
Unfortunately, decision-making and a little bit of luck can make or break someone when striving to achieve greatness.
And sometimes the animosity that a person develops for a person that they feel is living the life that they wanted for themselves is a little too much to take.
And when the two people who are having difficulties have a boxing background, where else would they solve their problems but in a boxing ring?
The “Creed” franchise has picked up the “Rocky” ball and given the entire “Rocky” kingdom of movies new life.
Ranking the “Creed” movies, however, becomes a difficult task because, as of yet, none have disappointed.
However, Ryan Coogler set the bar so high with his marvelous work in the original that it will probably be a while before any filmmaker levels up to his near masterpiece.
That does not take way from Steven Caple’s Jr.’s directorial work in “Creed II.”
Furthermore, that does not take away from Jordan’s directorial debut in “Creed III.”
Jordan was able to get such raw emotion out of himself and Rashad, in addition to a more playful performance out of Mila Davis-Kent who plays Adonis and Bianca’s daughter, Amara.
Thank God, Adonis did not listen to his uncle Rocky in “Creed II” when the “Italian Stallion” suggested that Adonis name his goddaughter Kate or Becky.
Jordan even got the music right in “Creed III,” with Dame using rapper Nipsey Hussle’s song “Grinding All My Life” as the walk-in music for one of his bouts.
Unfortunately, Jordan got the final boxing match wrong visually.
At times, Jordan removes the raucous crowd from the stands at Dodger Stadium, possibly to signify the two fighters being alone in the world while they work out their differences in the ring, ignoring their fans and detractors.
However, the shots look cheesy, and he should have just kept it simple.
Nevertheless, “Creed III,” represents the proverbial bottom for Jordan as a director, and that is meant in a good way because the talented actor has all the potential to go to the top as a filmmaker as well.