Yeah I know the title is a cliché but I just couldn’t help it. After the first 2 Rocky films impressed me while the Fourth was a disaster (despite what many think), I was really looking forward to this iteration. I mean you knew it was gonna start going downhill so there had to be one final masterpiece before the inevitable. And “Rocky III” does not disappoint!
Unlike the prior films, this one maintains a relatively lively pace without too many dull moments. Sure it starts off with the ending from the second movie but “Eye Of The Tiger” keeps the energy going as you see Rocky take down one opponent after another. At the time, I thought the series might be losing its core because Rocky was not that great of a fighter (he could just take a beating). Of course it’s later explained that Mickey set him up with easy opponents.
What changes everything though is contender Clubber Lang, played excellently by Mr. T. He’s strong and intimidating plus not afraid to say what he thinks. He’s basically a bigger Floyd Mayweather except I’d actually enjoy watching him fight. When Lang finally gets a shot at Rocky, he takes him down quick. What’s interesting is though is that, like Rocky, you are more worried about Mickey (who starts dying beforehand) then the actual fight. When Mickey passes away afterward, it creates one of the most emotional moments of the series.
Now in order to beat Clubber Lang, Rocky gets help from Apollo Creed, his old nemesis. But as you may expect, it is not just the physical edge that Rocky needs to recover but also the mental one. After the last fight, he no longer believes in himself and it’s up to Adrian to help bring him back up. While their relationship is not the focal point that it used to be, it’s still the difference maker in the end.
When it comes to the final fight, this one takes the cake. Instead of having Rocky get beat over and over again, it actually mixes it up. First he uses his new found speed to surprise Lang before the Champ starts beating him down again. However, like I mentioned earlier, Rocky has more than a physical edge. He bates Lang to continually try to hit him but without any major head shots, he is running out of energy. The hero uses this to finish him off in the 3rd round. And like the previous films, nothing beats that ending music for Rocky as he wins…one way or another.
Now the first Rocky is surely the most deserving of an Oscar but “Rocky III” is by far the most entertaining. The characters are all great especially Mickey and Paulie plus a phenomenal villain whose vintage line was just perfect. Sure there were some minor gripes such as how little time Rocky spends with his son but it is all worth it as the protagonist finally looks like a real fighter. Now why exactly do they need to make more?