Rocky III (1982) – Sylvester Stallone

With ‘Eye of the Tiger’ blaring from every radio station in 1982, it’s wild to think of a time before the song, and the film existed. 1982 was a great year for moviegoers, and Sylvester Stallone brought Rocky back to the screen for a third go-round, in Rocky III. Once again, he wrote, directed and starred in the film as Rocky now has the same lack of humility and way too much hubris (this is the entry that he gets the statue) that plagued Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the first film.

He’s not hungry anymore, something Mickey (Burgess Meredith) reminds him of as a new up-and-comer, Clubber Lang (Mr. T) demands a shot at Rocky’s title. Rocky agrees, and gets his ass handed to him by Clubber even as Mickey bows from the series. Paulie (Burt Young) steps in to help a bit, but wow is he racist. Then aid comes to Rocky and Adrian (Talia Shire) from an unexpected quarter, Apollo offers to help train and coach Rocky for the expected rematch between him and Clubber.

Sure there are some interesting fashion choices, but it was the 80s. The early 80s at that, but wow, short athletic shorts and white sports socks pulled up to the knees, ouch.

This film is a little meta in that Rocky’s theme music exists as Rocky’s theme music in that universe, and this time out, there’s a lot more pop music in this film than in the previous two, there must have been a soundtrack to back Survivor’s amazing and enduring track.

Rocky III doesn’t have the pacing of the previous film and lacks its energy. With a shorter runtime it also doesn’t give all the character beats that made the other entries shine. This is very much about Rocky dealing with his overconfidence and Mickey protecting him and his title.

So once you throw that plot together, throw in a couple of training montages, the film finds itself at its climax, and we know, once again, that Rocky is going to win, but it’s all about how many rounds, and how soundly both characters are going to be beaten before he does.

I do like that through each film, Stallone has kept creative control of the characters he’s created, and he is the one charting their stories. It’s just weird that when you think of the song, Eye of the Tiger, you imagine a really high-energy film, but this isn’t that. It’s fun but definitely does not have the kinetic excitement that the second film had.

Franchise fatigue already? Better not be, there are three more main films to go, and then a spin-off series.

Next time, Rocky isn’t fighting for himself, or Adrian, he’s fighting for the honor of the United States as he faces off against the Russkies of the 80s in Rocky IV!


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