Ahh, Clubber Lang. Now there’s a name that inspires boxing excellence. Rocky III unsurpisingly follows on from where Rocky II left off (you can read my review of that here and the original here) and in a brief montage covers the next three years. I was immediately worried as Stallone looks a lot different even though it was released just three years later (1982) and Rocky does adverts and public appearances which he couldn’t do in the second film.
However it’s not that bad, Stallone still knows his character and Rocky is a more mature family man, but still stupid in his own way. About to retire, taking part in exhibition shows against wrestlers (Hulk Hogan on good form as Thunderlips) and raising a family, up and coming boxer Clubber Lang (Mr T) challenges him to a final fight which he can’t resist. This is when the problems start for Rocky and for the film. Rocky loses the fight, Mickey dies and he feels a waste. What follows in surprisingly short time is his rematch and the predictable conclusion.
I liked some bits, such as the fact Rocky trains in a flash gym and Lang in a basic gym – a reversal from when Rocky fought Apollo. The introduction of Apollo as a friend rather than foe is interesting and fun, it’s just I prefered Rocky when he was broke and struggling to cope. Now he’s in a suit and a little bit smug. And Stallone has pumped himself up from filming Rambo and looks too perfect. Even Paulie cleans himself up. There’s too much boxing and too little character development. I enjoyed the match with Hulk Hogan more than the boxing proper, it’s even more realistic.
It’s a decent film and the introduction of the Eye of the Tiger gets you going, but it’s not a patch of the previous outings.
Now for the Cold War of Rocky IV…