Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Running Time: 100 mins
Rocky III is an American film and the third instalment in the Rocky series. After becoming World Heavyweight Champion, Rocky looks towards retirement, however a new challenger to his crown arises, and Rocky must turn to an old foe to help him retain the world title.
Much like its two predecessors, Rocky III is a hugely entertaining watch, with immense energy and sporting action from start to finish. That said, it’s the first film in the series that’s more sport than drama, and it loses a little of the heartfelt intimacy that made the first two movies so special.
As a result, it’s fair to say that Rocky III isn’t quite on the level of Rocky and Rocky II, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great watch. With the exception of its weaker drama, this is the most action-packed film yet in the series, and will delight fans of Stallone’s epic boxing bouts to no end.
Starting in thrilling fashion with a spectacular opening montage, the film’s premise is simple, but effective. Rocky Balboa, now a superstar fighting off challengers to his world title left, right and centre, comes into the gaze of an aggressive, hungry young fighter named Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T.
It’s fair to say that Mr. T’s performance is at times rather over the top – particularly in comparison to the assured adversary that Carl Weathers was as Apollo Creed. However, with the energy pumping from the very start of the film thanks to that opening sequence, the prospect of a fight between Mr. T’s Clubber Lang and Rocky Balboa is immediately mouth-watering.
Rather than following the exact same arc and format as the previous two films, Rocky III features more boxing action, and doesn’t only build towards one big fight at the finish. That comes at the expense of smaller-scale, more insightful drama, but it does allow for a couple of exciting twists along the way.
For the most part, where Rocky III falls down is in the predictability of its screenplay. As dramas first and foremost, both Rocky and Rocky II weren’t just about who would win the fight, but more about the journey to get to that point, making them far more layered than this film, which gets a little too attached to just seeing a winner in the end.
Also, many characters are shifted to the side, particularly Adrian and Paulie, and although Apollo Creed enters the fray as a protagonist for the first time, this movie doesn’t quite have the same underdog heart of its predecessors.
Saying that, however, there’s no denying the energy and impetus on display here. Complete with yet more brilliant directing and acting from Sylvester Stallone, Rocky III gets the blood pumping just as well as the first two movies, even if it isn’t quite able to endear you with the same emotional depth.
Overall, I really enjoyed Rocky III, even if it doesn’t entirely match its two predecessors. Filled with energy right from the start, it’s a hugely entertaining sports movie that features great acting and directing throughout. However, it lacks the same emotional depth and resonance that the series’ previous instalments were so notable for, and that’s why it can often come across as a little more predictable. So, that’s why I’m giving Rocky III a 7.6.