a critiQal film review Rocky III (1982)

Plot: After defeating Apollo Creed (Weathers) to become boxing's Heavweight Champion of the World, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) goes on a winning streak, and becomes a celebrity. That glamorous life is brought to an abrupt halt by Clubber Lang (Mr. T), who defeats Rocky with ease. Now Rocky must strive, with Apollo Creed's help, to get back his will to win, and defeat Clubber in the rematch.

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  • ...Stallone vs. Mr. T helps make this film a classic.

Rocky III is the middle film in the Rocky series, and the series is showing a little bit of age, but not too much. With the eventual decline of the series into Rocky V (1990), it’s nice to revisit some of the earlier pictures, when Rocky was at his best.

Rocky III is one of those films. The characters are a little light on depth, looking back on them, but they still seem to somehow pull you into the film.

The gritty boxing sequences and the special makeup effects help, too, but there’s just something about Rocky that makes you want to root for him. I’m not sure how Stallone achieved this, but he did.

Rocky III was made at the height of Stallone’s popularity as well, and he, as with Rocky in later pictures, is now showing his age (Anyone watch Daylight recently?). Stallone these days is suited to less physical roles, and is finally starting to develop real acting ability, as can plainly be seen in Cop Land.

Carl Weathers is a bit stand-offish throughout the film, and doesn’t seem to really embrace his role as much in this film. Rocky IV (1985) brings him back into the limelight yet again, and he seemed to do a much better job in that film.

Mr. T, as the “evil” boxer Clubber Lang, does a pretty good job here, but that’s not saying much. All he has to do basically is growl and work out and punch – not a lot of acting ability required.

The plot is decent, for a Rocky film, which means it’s also very straightforward. Boxer becomes champ, loses the title in his first “real” match, has to find his passion to fight again, then comes back bigger and badder than ever. Pretty simple. But, people liked it. So much, in fact, that Rocky IV (1985) copied it, almost exactly.

The special effects are what really make this film. The boxing sequences are incredibly real-looking, and the sound effects really bring it to vivid life. True, the training montages look a bit outdated, but you’ll still get chills watching the fight at the finale. True, Rocky IV (1985) amped it up a bit more, but it’s still great fun to watch this film. Plus, it’s always nice to root for the underdog, right?

Now that the Rocky series has come to DVD, I’m sure almost everyone has already snatched up a copy of the box set. While Rocky IV (1985) would have to be my favorite in the series, this film comes in close (despite the fact that Hulk Hogan shows up in it).

Maybe it’s only to see Mr. T in something other then 1-800-Collect® commercials, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just to hear classic lines, such as “I pity the fool” and “You had the eye of the tiger, man”, or maybe it’s just nice to hear the “Eye of the Tiger” theme song again after so long, I’m not sure.

Whatever it may be, Rocky III is fun to watch – even after all these years.

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