A worthy sequel, Rocky III is an entertainingly thrilling and inspirational action/drama that although a step down in terms of quality, still contains the heart and emotional punch that made the first two Rocky films so great.
Having successfully defended his title 10 times, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) has come a long way from his humble beginnings; rich and famous, he now lives in a big mansion with his wife Adrian (Talia Shire), son Rocky Jr. (Ian Fried) and trainer/manager Mickey (Burgess Meredith).
Content with his life Rocky announces his retirement, only for the No.1 ranked Clubber Lang to challenge Rocky for a shot at the title. Rocky he accepts to the disdain of Mickey, who believes that fame has made Rocky soft, and that Clubber would knock him out within three rounds. His prediction comes true.
Wallowing in the depths of depression, Rocky’s former opponent Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) returns with an offer to become Rocky’s new manager. Rocky agrees, not only setting up a re-match against his most brutal adversary thus far, but also fighting a battle with himself.
Script wise Stallone draws interesting parallel’s towards the first Rocky film, as this time out Rocky becomes domesticated in very much the same way Apollo Creed was, only for a hungry contender to knock some sense into them (literally).
The first 45 minutes (or so) are average, with the only highlight the excellent montage at the start of the film as we see Rocky’s star ascending to the sounds of “Eye of the Tiger”. Stallone’s decision to have Rocky fight Hulk Hogan (here known as ‘Thunderlips’) in a boxer VS wrestler match for charity is a rather dull move and does nothing for the film.
Only when the Italian Stallion gets his head caved in during the first, brutal title fight do things get interesting, with an untimely death of an important character the clincher that drags the viewer in and does not let go. The re-match between Balboa and Lang is an excellently well choreographed fight scene that, although abolishes any sense of realism, is sure as hell entertaining, especially when Bill Conti’s final score kicks in.