Rocky III

  • Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone
  • May 28, 1982 (US)
  • Based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone

Turning to his old adversary following the death of his manager, Rocky faces off against upcoming boxer Clubber Lang.

Some sequels can be wholly original or stale retreads. Sometimes they can be great and just as often they can be bad. I can’t call Rocky III as good as the previous two. Then again the previous two were essentially one narrative put into two films. Rocky III is not a bad movie and manages to get a lot of my drama as well find performances from all involved.

Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) may be king but there is always somebody looking to take the throne. That is what the story boils down too. Mickey (Burgess Meredith) sees this and is protecting him. That is what sets everything in motion. I am a little bothered by that. Mickey seemed before to be trying to bring the greatness out in Rocky. Here he sees a has been and is shielding him from realizing that. The spirit of a winner is gone from Rocky. So why is Mickey not trying to help him get it back?

Mickey does not have the power he once had over Rocky somehow. Rocky makes a public show of his training while his foe does so in a manner not that different than Rocky did previously. Mickey gives up and pushes less here than he did before. He cares but not as much. We know why he is doing what he is doing but beyond Rocky no longer being “hungry” we do not get why he is not pushing him as hard as before.

Once again Rocky needs to prove himself to himself as well as the world. That makes Rocky III a bit of a retread of Rocky II. He needed to prove himself there under much the same conditions as here. Here though it is against a more youthful opponent than Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

This movie gave us the one and only Mr. T as the young and colorful Clubber Lang who seeks to take the crown from Rocky. This was Mr. T’s big break and he brought to it everything that made him a permanent part of pop culture. He is as bold and brash as Rocky is humble. He is a scene stealing self-promoter while Rocky lets his actions speak. Lang sees himself as the unquestioned best and Rocky along with Creed as old and in his way.

And that is how Creed and Rocky come together. Creed seeks to knock the arrogant Lang down and sees Rocky as the way to do it. We get a good relationship between Rocky and Creed but unfortunately it comes at the expense of Mickey as a character. Not because of issues in the narrative but because the needed to move him out of the way for story purposes. Despite my issues with him in this movie, Mickey was still as important to this universe as Rocky was and his death while sad did not have the emotional punch here that it should have had.

Creed agrees to help Rocky in exchange for an unnamed favor when it is all over. Interesting idea but the level of play it gets makes it feel like something from a shallow 80s actioner. I think this is Stallone’s larger career creeping into the Rocky universe. I like the idea but as often as it came up it was run into the ground.

Rocky III is not a bad movie but it’s certainly not as meaty as the first two. It touches on proving yourself and going out on top rather than overstaying your welcome. But beyond that there’s not too much else to be had in the movie. And it feels like it moves so much faster than the first films. There was a great deal in the first two but not so much here. By itself it is a superior movie to most but suffers as others have by being connected to greatness.

Special mention needs to go out to Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips. He was absolutely great and if he had gone the Bautista route and chosen more supporting roles (particularly ones as colorful as Thunderlips) then he might have received some accolades over his stint as an actor. Instead we got some guilty pleasures to downright trash from the man.

This film also gave us the song “Eye of the Tiger” which immediately became inseparable from the Rocky films. Has a song ever been more perfect or just fit better than that?

All in all, Rocky III is a good follow-up to two great films. It’s not terrible but it’s certainly not as substantive as its predecessors. Still it’s a good watch and a good bit of drama showcasing Sylvester Stallone. I say check it out!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

2 thoughts on “Rocky III

  1. Yeah I think you nailed it – “Stallone’s larger career creeping in” clearly damaged the Rambo films too, as his films became more about the ‘movie star’ Sly than any original narrative. First Blood is such a great film, as is the first Rocky, and its bizarre where both franchises would go when one considers how grounded the first entries were.

    Must confess, if I do get the 4K editions of the Rocky films, I am curious about giving Rocky III another go after all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

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