Creed III

Michael B. Jordan gets back in the ring as the star and first time director.

Just as I thought 2023 would be a bad year for threequels, coming on the heels of “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Creed III” proved me wrong. Maybe they’ll be other bad ones, and maybe there’ll be some good ones. I just wish “Clerks 3” came out in January as a sign of good luck, but at least we’re in March. So, “Creed III” is my four leaf clover.

For one thing, Michael B. Jordan not only reprises his role as the boxing champ Adonis Creed, but he also makes his directorial debut. I was hoping he wouldn’t blow it, but he knocks us out in front of and behind the camera. Not because he’s a big name, but because he has humanity in the characters directs, thanks to writers Ryan Coogler, Zach Baylin, and Ryan’s brother Keegan.

Another thing, Jonathan Majors is given a better story for his antagonist character Damian “Dame” Anderson than his Kang character in “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” He was Creed’s childhood friend, who spent 18 years in prison. Now, he’s free and wants a shot at the title, which Creed warns is impossible. But when circumstances emerge, he’s given the chance to fight in a big event. It sounds unlikely to his trainer Little Duke (Wood Harris), but Creed assures him that “Everybody loves an underdog story.”

But Dame is so ambitious, that this whole heavyweight champion dream is revealed as an act of revenge against Creed. That’s when Creed challenges Dame to the fight of his life. So, I guess it’s like, what the kids are saying: “Killmonger vs Kang.” But this movie knows better than that.

Among other subplots-some are a bit predictable and others have value-Creed’s deaf daughter Amara (deaf actress Mila Davis-Kent) has been fighting her bullies at school, because he teaches her to defend herself. His Bianca (Tessa Thompson) wishes he would open up to her more about his troubles in his past. And his mother (Phylicia Rashad) refuses to move in with him, but that’s not the most troubling part. What? I can’t say right now.

While some fight shots look a bit silly, most of them are very provocative and entertaining. And seeing them in an IMAX theater makes me feel like I’m at an actual boxing event, especially when the audiences cheers and say “OOHHHH” at the punches. And believe me, people do get hurt.

Sylvester Stallone, who played Rocky Balboa, does not appear in the film, but instead as a producer. That doesn’t mean Michael B. Jordan has to be pigheaded about it. He intends to honor his legacy by allowing Apollo Creed’s son to have a legacy. And he even has strong supporting work from Majors, Thompson, Rashad, Harris, and yes, even little Davis-Kent.

“Creed” is one of those rare trilogies that doesn’t suck, because the first one was powerful, “Creed II” was a worthy successor, and “Creed III” punches hard and strong. And back to Majors being an antagonist. I liked his performance in the last threequel, but he was given a rushed story. Here, he’s not trying to take over the multiverse, he’s trying to take over the boxing world. At least, he’s given patience and consistency. You have to see how Jordan guides and fights him.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Categories: Drama, Sequel, Spin Off, Sport

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