Mar 8, 2023

In Defense Of Diamond Dame

Creed III
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
Normally, I try to avoid spoilers when I write about a movie, but it's unavoidable if I want to get my thoughts out while they're still fresh in my mind.  Consider this your spoiler warning.  If you don't want to know what happens, stop reading now and come back to this post after you've seen the movie.

I don't blame Damian Anderson for anything that he did in this movie... not a single thing.

That's not the same thing as calling him the hero of the story, and I'm also not saying that Adonis Creed is the villain.  However, I will say that I understand every single action taken by Diamond Dame in this movie, and I'd go so far as to say that he was justified in everything that he did.  I can understand most of the reasons why Creed did what he did as well... all except one.

Let's start the recap from when the two men were teenagers
  • Adonis attacked Leon, who was the man that abused him when he was a little boy.  I get that.  It may not have been a smart idea, but it's absolutely justifiable.
  • Damian pulled a gun to protect Adonis when he was getting beaten down.  Adonis was like a brother to him, so I get that too.  Totally justifiable.
  • Adonis got scared and ran away when the cops came.  Ok, I can accept that.  He was very young and it's a pretty damn scary situation.
Damian got arrested and spent the next 18 years in jail, and while none of this would have happened if Adonis didn't start that fight, I'm not going to say that either man was to blame.  It was a crazy situation that neither man planned for.  It just happened, and both of them had good reason for what they did.

Here's where I start to lay blame:  After the heat of the moment died down, Adonis could have gone to the police station to defend Damian.  He could have come clean and admitted that he started a fight, it got out of hand, and Damian only pulled out his gun (without ever firing it) to save him.  Yeah, he might have gone to juvy on an assault charge, and Damian would have still gone to jail, but I'm thinking there's a pretty good chance that he wouldn't have served almost 20 years on a weapons charge if Damian was able to present a full defense of what happened.

However, let's set that aside.  Let's say that no matter what Adonis did, Damian was destined to spend the next 18 years behind bars as a result of what happened that night.  He still should have checked on him.  He could have gone to visit, or written him a letter, or even just stopped in to say thank you for saving his ass.  Adonis just left him to rot in jail.  I can maybe understand why he didn't go visit him right away... he was just a kid after all... but for the next 18 years, he didn't think to check in on a man that was like a brother to him?  After he made millions of dollars in boxing, he couldn't maybe hire an attorney to see what they could do to help Dame out?

So...Dame finally gets out of jail and trying to get his life together, which is one of the most difficult things that anybody can do.  He was a Golden Gloves boxer who has a second chance at his dream, so he works to achieve it.  He reconnects with Adonis and starts training at his gym to prepare for his career.

Dame asks Adonis for a championship fight against his protege and the current heavyweight champion, Felix Chavez.  This is an unrealistic request, and I think Dame knows this but he still decides to give it a shot before he takes any other actions to reach his goal.  After all, Rocky was fighting a bunch of no-name boxers in front of a crowd of about 50 people in small Philadelphia gyms, AND he had 20 losses on his record when Apollo gave him a shot at the title.  The prescient has been set that this can happen in this film universe.  If Creed's father could give a shot to a guy he didn't even know, surely Adonis could pull some strings to do the same for a man that was like a big brother to him.  But Adonis says no, which leaves Dame to put Plan B into action.
  • Dame's friends start a fight with Viktor Drago, which injures the Russian boxer and leaves him unable to compete.  Is this a good thing to do?  Of course not, but they didn't permanently injure him, and it was the only way to guarantee that Felix would have no one to face for his upcoming title defense.
  • This puts Dame in position to take the fight on short notice, and while he absolutely fights dirty, that is a part of the sport.  Dame is older, untested, and has had far less training and less money behind him to prepare him for this fight, and he knew that this was his one and only shot at a title.  If he wins this fight, he will etch his name into professional boxing history and transition from a life behind bars to a life of money and success.  He is fighting for his life.  He didn't do enough in the ring to get disqualified.  He did what he had to do to win.
  • After winning the fight, he has a confrontation with Creed that results in a punch to the face, Dame starts talking smack about him to the media.  Frankly, who could blame the guy?  First of all, fighters talking smack about each other in the media is part of the sport, and it led to a massive payday in The Battle Of Los Angeles.  Besides, he saved Creed's ass which cost him 18 years of his life, only to be abandoned and forgotten.  All things considered, Adonis is getting off light with a punch in the mouth and a little smack talking.
Does all of these things make "Diamond" Damian Anderson the hero of Creed III?  Of course not... but it would be unfair to call him the villain.  He did what he had to do to take care of himself... no more, no less.  If Adonis has stayed his friend all those years, Dame's act of betrayal wouldn't be easy to justify, but Adonis forgot about him completely.  By the start of this movie, Dame doesn't owe Adonis anything.

I'm not calling Adonis the villain of the story either,  I understand the reasoning behind most of his actions too, but if we're meant to fairly judge the actions of both men in this story, Dame's actions are more understandable to me than Creed's... and that's what makes this a damn good movie.  You can see both sides of the story here and make up your own mind.

My only problems with the movie were the CGI in the final fight (you'll know what I mean when you see it), and the relatively good shape that both men are in after the final fight is over.  The beginning of Rocky II is what two fighters look like after going to war with each other, but at the end of Creed III, Adonis looked like he was ready to take his wife out dancing.  Neither of these things ruined the movie or anything, but they were eye rollers.

This is a solid chapter in the Rocky / Creed saga.  If you're a fan of the other movies in the series like I am, there's a lot to love about Creed III.