Creed III

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner/MGM;
Drama;
Box Office $156.25 million;
$34.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, $49.98 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sports action, violence, and some strong language.
Stars Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Jonathan Majors, Wood Harris, Mila Davis-Kent, Florian Munteanu, Phylicia Rashad.

The first two “Creed” films featured the title character dealing with personal issues stemming from earlier “Rocky” movies. For the third installment, the spinoff series jettisons Rocky for Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) to deal with some personal demons from his own past.

The premise involves Creed retiring from boxing and setting up his own gym, where he now manages the current boxing champ, Felix Chavez (played by real boxer José Benavidez Jr.). From out of the blue he is confronted by his old pal Damian (Jonathan Majors), who has been in prison for 18 years for an incident in which he pulled a gun on some thugs who were beating up on the younger Donnie. Dame was locked up just as he was about to embark on a promising boxing career, so he asks Donnie to get him back into the game.

Donnie sets Dame up at his gym as a sparring partner to Felix, but Dame’s latent anger gives him a violent streak that makes the rest of Felix’s entourage uneasy. When an upcoming title bout is derailed by an injury to Felix’s scheduled opponent, Donnie suggests Dame take his place, which Felix reluctantly accepts on the promise of a big payday.

Needless to say, the fight does not go well, and Dame not only seizes upon the opportunity to claim the title but turns out to have a massive grudge against Donnie as well. In typical “Rocky” fashion, the only recourse for both men ends up being a climactic title fight.

Rocky’s current in-universe status isn’t mentioned, Sylvester Stallone’s absence is felt, though he did seem to make a definitive exit in Creed II. While this is the first “Rocky” movie without Rocky in it, it still leans into many of the franchise’s tropes, beginning with a reference to Rocky’s underdog status from the first film being the justification for Dame getting a title shot out of nowhere. The story, as is usually the case with the “Rocky” franchise, mostly uses the boxing plot as a backdrop for familial relationships, particularly Adonis’ relationship with his adorable daughter.

And, much in the same way Stallone directed many of the original “Rocky” movies, Jordan takes the helm behind-the-scenes for this particular sequel.

Though it’s a boxing movie on its surface, the character dynamics are more typically found in a pro wrestling storyline, taking some narrative shortcuts to steer the characters toward settling all their personal animosities in the ring.

Looking past the connective tissue, however, the film is at its best when Creed is with his family, and during some good boxing scenes that seem especially brutal for the franchise.

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The Blu-ray includes a light smattering of bonus materials that glimpses behind the scenes of making this particular sequel without delving too much into the franchise’s legacy behind it — which may echo some of the public disagreements between Stallone, who is contractually listed as a producer, and other producers who control the rights to the franchise.

The 10-minute “Michael B. Jordan: In the Ring/Behind the Camera” focuses on the actor making his directorial debut, while the nine-minute “There’s No Enemy Like the Past: Donnie and Dame” explores the relationship between the two former friends turned rivals.

Rounding out the extras are three superfluous deleted scenes that run a total of four-and-a-half-minutes. Frankly, there seems to be more substantial unused material in the film’s trailers.

In regards to the 4K edition, the extras are found only on the regular Blu-ray Disc in the combo pack.