A fundamental part of the franchise with Michael B. Jordan is the one dedicated to the fights on the quadrilateral, conceived and directed from one chapter to another with different vision and style. We talk about it in our in-depth analysis.
The saga of Creed is more alive than ever. While the third installment of the film franchise reaches 117 million worldwide, the actor and director Michael B. Jordan announces the expansion of what he calls Creed Universe also between seriality, animation and spin-offs. The franchise now runs on its own legs and the farewell of Sylvester Stallone seems to have not affected the success or quality of the product, albeit at the price of an emotional void especially related to the affection of the fans for Rocky Balboa. The saga has never hidden its transitory nature and spiritual heritage, like a real passing of the baton, and the new film (here the review of Creed III) actually presents itself as the massive and evident finalization of this eventuality finally materialized.
The three different directors have especially thought about giving different characters and uniqueness to the three chapters of the franchise: Ryan Coogler, Steve Caple Jr. and Michael B. Jordan. Net of a writing that has drastically changed only in this third film – given the absence of Sly also as screenwriter – the stylistic and conceptual weight of the series has been modified in particular by the clashes on the quadrilateral, their staging and relative technical-visual structure. This is how Creed managed to evolve and change between direction and narration thanks to the fights in the ring and the action grammar of the respective filmmakers, elements that we will analyze today in this dedicated study.
One shot continued
Released nine years later Rocky Balboa, Creed appeared in 2015 as a new beginning for the sports saga created by Stallone. The latter held the role of producer and reprized the role of his iconic character, this time not as a protagonist but as a mentor to the son of his friend and rival Apollo Creed. The intention of the relaunch was to bring the world of Rocky’s boxing closer to the new generations and give the legendary Italian stallion a dimension more suited to his time, also allowing him to conclude his filmic journey and close any still-open episodes. To give such a new and lively polish to the franchise, Ryan Coogler started from a script where sports and human dramas also met comedy tones in harmony, however achieving a truly exciting cinematic expression thanks to the staging of the matches in the ring.
While in the past John G. Avildsen and Stallone were not looking for technical virtuosity within the fights, focusing much more on an adequate and plausible re-proposition of the competitive moves, Coogler reformulated the fight from scratch, deciding to modernize it starting from the aesthetic backbone of the sequence and its same narrative. The intuition is dazzling: lead meetings in sequence, one always different from the other. Not all the fights are actually packaged with this technique, a choice however intended to ennoble the scenes conceived in that way in due time.
However, when these fill the screen, Coogler lets the spectator enter the quadrilateral directly and accompanies him into the battle without ever breaking the narration of the action, giving continuity to the sequence and rationality to each blow struck. The sequence shot guides us through the points of view of Creed and the various challengers, to the corners of the ring and its ropes, letting us experience the entire boxing experience in its entirety and through the cinematic form that more than others imitates and captures reality in all its expressive shades. In the film, other ingenious narrative intuitions follow one another in context (let’s think, for example, of just the shots of the details – blood, towels, a bell, etc. – to narrate one of these encounters), but the long shot on the quadrilateral remains unsurpassed.
Epic and brutality
Directed by Creed II the semi-unknown takes over Steven Caple Jr, however assisted by Stallone’s writing and experience and Coogler’s passion as executive producer. The director decides he wants to take full advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, aiming to innovate the saga again and propose a vision that is as personal, creative and conceptually faithful to the story as possible. The sequel is a veritable clash of inheritances that is personified in the faces and shots of Adonis and Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). It is also a two-headed revenge movie: on the one hand Creed’s revenge for the death of Apollo, on the other that of Viktor for his father’s defeat against Rocky.
Creed 2, the review: a sequel that thrills like Rocky and beats like Ivan Drago
The film fills his cinematic lungs with epic and Stallone’s writing becomes more dramatic and nostalgic – having to definitively say goodbye to the franchise – but it is in the ring that Caple Jr. balances “life” and bare the sporting soul and human of the two rivals. To do this, he thinks and works in a diegetic sense on the brutality and cruelty of Drago’s style, following the entire creation and evolution of the choreographies between him and Adonis to identify the best shooting points on the quadrilateral, the right angles, the most suitable means to give vigor, truthfulness and virtue to the fights.
It takes advantage of slowdowns and close-ups, drones and POVs to convey the passion and physicality of the clash, its more muscular and frenetic heart which this time thrives on a tight, dynamic, adrenaline-pumping montage. It is the epic action that enters the ring to imitate – but better – what Stallone did in 1985 in Rocky IVrecalibrating the conceptual shot and indeed overturning it to arrive at making a film capable of speaking the most visceral language of boxing to the maximum of its ability.
With Rocky no longer around, Creed finds himself having to continue his cinematic journey on his own. Universal believes (in omen name) firmly in the project and gives the green light to a third chapter, with Ryan Coogler still a producer and a screenplay signed by Keenan Coogler, brother of the author. However, the director is busy with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Caple Jr. is attached to direct _Tansformers: The Awakening__, which prompts a search for a new filmmaker. Finally, the choice falls on Jordan himself, who after years of experience accumulated surrounded by genre authors of various caliber (let’s also think of Destin Daniel Cretton o Stefano Sollima) and given his closeness and dedication to the saga he decides to make his debut behind the camera and definitely get involved also on the directorial level. And the result is truly commendable, perhaps not like a destructive uppercut from an assured KO but close to a well-aimed jab that scores with confidence and determination.
It is in particular his vision of the fights that is both introspective and dazzling, almost as if it were an ideal sum but completely different from the previous stagings, where the narration in the action is vivid and pulsating and where the montage is structured with the same aggressiveness and the same dynamism of the previous scenario. The most inspiring Jordan for this incredible conceptual work were the japanese animeyes Dragon Ball Z until Hajime No Ippoalso passing through Naruto, My Hero Academia o Megalo Box. In fact, within his matches many styles and shooting techniques are embraced, however linked by the same expressive desire, that is to show and compare different sporting values and personalities by entering directly into the soul of the two opponents. The clash must then think as much about the physical story of the fight as about the introspective one of the fighters without however exasperating the action more than necessary and removing it without any return solutions from the boxing context.
Even vaguely winking at Sherlock Holmes Of Guy RitchieJordan reaches his maximum cinematic potential in the final showdown between Creed and Dame Anderson (Jonathan Majors), which perfectly condenses his conceptual inspirations and effectively translates his directorial intentions. No words, no noises, only black around and only the quadrilateral underfoot. In the air only the sound of blows and the screams and growls of Adonis and Damia, angry beasts who are fighting both inside and outside against each other. The scene is imbued with a certain dreamlike fantasy that even brings to mind Mine by Fabio Guaglione, especially when the visual analogy of the cage arrives, but the clash remains centered, the characteristic style, the enthusiasm skyrocketing. A debut to remember and another energetic and inspired “fight” direction that makes Creed one of the best sports franchises ever.
From Rocky to Creed III: all the films of the saga from worst to best