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"Creed III" marks the directorial debut of Michael B. Jordan and provides some of the strongest fights in the franchise, reviewer Grayson Banning writes.

“Creed III” follows the tried-and-true formula of facing adversity with ferocious fearlessness. 

With a story by Ryan and Keegan Coogler, as well as Zach Baylin, the film was the directorial debut for the film’s star, Michael B. Jordan. 

Although this film loses star power from Sylvester Stallone, the cast features great talent from Jordan and up-and-comer Jonathan Majors, who’s appeared in films like “Devotion” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” 

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Rocky was booted from the Creed Universe in “Creed III.” At first, I was disappointed in the move and thought it would negatively affect the story, but after watching the movie, I can confidently say Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky wasn’t needed. 

“Creed III” switches gears from the previous two movies in the franchise. Instead of focusing on the father-son relationship between Rocky and Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), we are introduced to the legacy Adonis has built for himself through managing the Delphi Boxing Academy after retirement. He’s no longer in the ring but is still heavily involved in boxing by creating the next generation’s boxing talent. 

However, the story’s shaken up as Damian Anderson (Jonathan Majors) is introduced. Damian and Adonis were close as kids while living in a group home together for two years. There, the pair were physically abused by a man named Leon who served as a father figure. Years later, the two see Leon again at a liquor store after celebrating Damian’s victorious boxing match. As Adonis approached the store, he noticed Leon was sitting against a wall. He then proceeded to beat the living crap of him for the years of trauma Leon caused. If I were Adonis, I would’ve done the same. 

As an audience member, I could see Adonis release his pain with every right and left hook to Leon’s face. Immediately following Adonis’ attack on Leon, Leon’s friends retaliate by pinning Adonis to the ground. Damian notices this from the driver's seat of his Mercedes and pulls a gun on Leon’s crew. Damian’s life would change forever as he was arrested and locked up in prison for the next 18 years of his life. 

This was arguably the most important scene in the film as Adonis managed to flee in fear while Damian was stuck facing legal consequences. The course of their lives looked distinctively different with Adonis following the footsteps of his father, Apollo, and Damian sitting in a cell waiting for the day he got out. 

Although receiving significant jail time, Damian has a chance to carve out his own legacy the day he’s finally released. At this point, I was fascinated about what was to come of the reunion of the former friends. 

The performances of both Jordan and Majors contributed to making the story worthwhile. In virtually every scene, the pair brought their A-game. You could feel the emotion coming through the delivery of their lines. Majors specifically sold the idea of Damian’s character being complicated due to a traumatic past. 

Speaking of complicated, we’re brought back to Adonis and Damian reuniting after Damian’s release from prison. At first, the relationship seemed to be rekindled after the pair went to a local restaurant to catch up. However, Damian gets straight to the point of wanting another shot at glory. He doesn’t want a hand-out, but rather an opportunity to prove himself as a boxer. 

At this point, the story was moving quite slowly. I wanted to get directly into the meat and potatoes, but the anticipation of Damian’s return to the ring had me on my toes. Through a series of chaotic events, Damian does get a shot at redemption against one of Adonis' proteges, Felix Chavez. This was all because Chavez was supposed to fight a similar face, Viktor Drago from “Creed II,” but he was attacked and unable to fight. 

I was disappointed because I wanted to see Viktor back in the ring as he served as a great antagonist in “Creed II.” But, it was Damian’s time to shine, and he didn’t disappoint. 

In Felix and Damian's fight for the heavyweight championship, Damian pulled out all the tricks, throwing bone-crushing body blows. The fight sequence was expertly choreographed and just dramatized enough to the point where I could take it seriously. 

Damian actually beat up Felix so badly that he was rushed to the hospital. I’m assuming after spending 18 years in a prison cell it would be hard not to unleash an abundance of rage through the violent medium of boxing. I felt myself becoming scared of who Damian was becoming as he was no longer a kid trying to make his dreams come true, but a victorious villain who no longer needed the help of his friend, Adonis. Their brotherhood was called into question after Damian publicly challenged Adonis to a match. I was absolutely elated with the theme of an underdog who’d been dealt a bad set of cards facing someone with everything to lose. The ending of the movie was my favorite because of what was at stake for the pair.  

The heavyweight championship fight between Adonis and Damian was truly the best fight sequence throughout the entire film with tasteful special effects from a disappearing crowd to prison bars lining a portion of the ring. The relationship the pair shared from childhood created an immense amount of significance. After a lengthy 12 rounds, Adonis was able to come out on top with a savage knockout punch. 

All in all, this movie had a wonderful storyline with beautifully cinematic fight scenes. The complicated brotherhood of Adonis and Damian is what makes this movie a must-see. All the emotion poured out from both actors is enough to make a grown man cry. In his directorial debut, Michael B. Jordan did a fantastic job in taking the Creed franchise in a new direction, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Contact Grayson Banning at For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.