Director: Michael B. Jordan
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Jonathan Majors
Runtime: 1 hr 56 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Warner Bros
Opening Day: 2 March 2023
Synopsis: After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy, Damian (Jonathan Majors), resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian - a fighter who has nothing to lose.
Who would have thought a 1976 movie about a poor, working class club fighter who becomes a world heavyweight champion will evolve into a successful sports drama franchise? The boxing career of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa has become a cultural phenomenon, and it has spawned nine movies in the series.
If you need a quick recap, a spin off was released after the sixth movie to tell the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B Jordan), the illegitimate son of the franchise’s antagonist Apollo Creed. Creed (2015) was a hit and Jordan’s performance received widespread acclaim. Creed II (2018) was well received too, and Jordan was handed the responsibility of directing the sequel.
And this is a notable title because it is the first time Stallone isn’t appearing in the movie. How do things hold up without the popular character’s presence?
After fighting the odds in the first two movies, Adonis seems to finally have it all. He is running a boxing academy and is leading a happy family life with his wife (Tessa Thompson) and daughter (Mila Davis Kent). Adonis’ childhood friend Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) appears and we learn that he has just been released from prison and the angry man is full of grudge. We also begin realising Adonis has something to hide, and the guilt is consuming him slowly but surely.
You know how this will go. The two men will not succeed sorting out their differences in a cordial manner, and they will come face to face in a grueling boxing match. The adrenaline and testosterone levels are going to be high, and there will be lots of blood and sweat. This is the essence of such sports dramas.
The story by Ryan Coogler, Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin is a solid drama and there are no gimmicky twists and turns. It tells the story of a man who seems to be finally able to enjoy the success he worked so hard for, but something from the past has returned to shake things up. And he has to come clean with his loved ones and stop running away from a less than glorious past.
Jordan does a fine job playing a conflicted man, and we see Adonis dressed in crisp tailored shirts quite a bit in this movie – guess that’s the way the filmmakers indicate that he is moving into the next phase of his life. Not to worry, there is still a training montage where we see the character get ready for the ultimate showdown. Such sequences make us feel that if we bothered, we can become as fit as the character on screen.
Then there is Majors, who is a total menace on screen. After seeing the actor portray Kang in Marvel’s blockbuster Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the 33 year old actor is even more intense as Damian in this movie. Behind his scowling and vengeful expression, we can tell there is someone who is very hurt and is seeking justice. We think the actor has lots of potential in showbiz and will be cast in complicated roles.
Naturally, the final match between Adonis and Damian is the highlight of the movie. You empathise with both characters, but you know there can be only one champion. The ending is not unexpected, but it is a decent closure that the characters deserve.
(The on-screen tension between Michael B Jordan and Jonathan Majors makes this solid sports drama a worthy watch, and the final showdown between the two men is a grueling and sweaty affair)
Review by John Li