The Rocky Balboa franchise commenced in 1976; Sylvester Stallone referenced the legendary boxer Chuck Wepner (1939-) who lost to Muhammad Ali in a 1975 heavyweight championship fight. Rocky lost to “Apollo Creed” (Carl Weathers) by default at the conclusion of the first of 6 “Rocky” films; it’s the longstanding and outstanding sport franchise in filmdom.
“Creed III” is sharply defined, skirting tropism, allowing viewers into the fissures of the darkest shadows, eerily haunting the first two “Creed’s”. Directed and starring Michael B. Jordan, his excellent characterization of a former champion with a troubled, unresolved past is meaty, gritty, totally absorbing and compelling; audiences yearn for the answers and as the film progresses satisfaction slowly but realistically reveals itself. Keenly matched, his costar Jonathan Majors is “Damien Anderson” a previously talented contender who has spent 18 years in prison for a crime they were both involved in; their convoluted history is the positive crux of the scenario.
The film soars with child star Mila Davis-Kent, a deaf actress who dazzles as “Amara Creed” the daughter of Donnie and Bianca Creed (Tessa Thompson in a minimal but crucial role); the signage by all three actors is pulverizing, captivating, complementing the intensity of this first-class film.