After winning the title of heavyweight champion, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) falls into a rut. When Clubber Lang (Mr. T), a formidable opponent challenges Rocky, he turns to a former adversary for help: Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
After being a little disappointed with Rocky and Rocky II, Rocky III is more along the lines of what I was expecting from the series. My biggest expectation for the series was to see more boxing matches and a better relationship between Rocky and his trainer, which this film thankfully fulfills those expectation. Along with a different, tougher opponent, Rocky III ups the game.
There is much more time spent with Rocky inside the ring this time around. However, this film still manages to focus on his relationship with his wife Adrian and best friend Paulie. One thing I have liked about each film as the series has progressed is they have felt like natural story progressions of the characters. In Rocky, Rocky was an unknown fighter, in Rocky II, he had to prove he wasn’t a one-and-done fighter. Now, he has been defending his title for three years and has fallen into a rut of sorts when a real challenger comes along. It’s a story advancement that would be expected. But best of all, there is a nice balance between the boxing matches and the rest of the scenes.
I don’t know why, but I really liked that Rocky trained under Apollo Creed. It acts as a way to show another side of these boxers. The team-up accomplishes two things. One, it makes Rocky a better fighter. It becomes clear that Rocky needs to work on his technique and skill, and who better to help than another fighter who held the title of heavyweight champion. And two, it builds Apollo’s character. After his defeat at the end of the first film, he had some words towards Rocky in the second film. By becoming Rocky’s trainer, Apollo proved that he wasn’t a bitter person or sore loser.
You know Clubber Lang is a formidable opponent when two former heavyweight champions are afraid of him. After having the same opponent for Rocky in two movies in a row, it was nice to see him working towards beating a different fighter. Mr. T did a good job in the role, especially since it was his first role. He didn’t get much deep development but I don’t think he necessarily needed it. Lang was simply an opponent to build Rocky’s character and his relationship with Apollo. I did like how the sound effects were different for each fighter, making it obvious Lang was much stronger than Rocky. It was a nice and subtle effect.
Rocky III finally gives more focus to Rocky inside the ring than the previous films and his relationship between him and his trainer, now his old adversary. A new tougher boxer is just what the series, and Rocky, needed.
You can also read my reviews for the rest of the Rocky series: Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky IV, Rocky V and Rocky Balboa.
Cast & Crew
Sylvester Stallone – Writer / Director
Bill Conti – Composer
Sylvester Stallone – Rocky Balboa
Talia Shire – Adrian
Burt Young – Paulie
Carl Weathers – Apollo Creed
Burgess Meredith – Mickey Goldmill
Tony Burton – Duke (Apollo’s trainer)
Mr. T – Clubber Lang
Hulk Hogan – Thunderlips
Ian Fried – Rocky Jr.
Al Silvani – Al
Wally Taylor – Clubber’s Manager