World champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is living a life of luxury and is at the top of his game until Clubber Lang (Mr T) arrives on the scene. After a bitter defeat Rocky gains guidance from the most unlikely of places, former rival Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).
After wondering when “Eye of the Tiger” was going to make an appearance, it’s finally arrived in Rocky III and it arrived in style. It’s present throughout the film but it’s the backing song for the opening montage which I loved. It was so clever to use that montage to not only see what Rocky’s life is like since we last saw him in Rocky II, but then compare his life to that of Clubber Lang’s. While Rocky is getting all the fame and fortune, big sponsorship deals and celebrity moments, his boxing appears to be falling by the wayside a bit even though he’s still winning. Meanwhile Lang is training on his own and winning fights in just a couple of rounds, instantly proving to be a dangerous adversary.
Adrian (Talia Shire) is brilliant in Rocky III. She’s always been quite quiet and mousy but as it’s been a few years since she’s had their son and been by Rocky’s side for everything, it’s great to see how she’s come out of her shell. Her and Rocky’s relationship is still pretty great and loving but now she really feels like his equal, not afraid to push him to get him to say what he truly feels and shows how she really knows him.
The fights in Rocky III are my favourite in this series so far. The way they’re shot puts you right in the action with more point-of-view shots of Rocky, Lang, Creed, and wrestler Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan). The fights are entertaining and gripping and they work so well – especially the ones featuring Lang. Mr T is a great addition to this series and unlike Creed who’s always had a little bit of likeability to him even when he was the “bad guy” in the previous films, Lang is portrayed as a straight up villain. Sure Mr T has the charisma but he channels it into a ferociousness that’s different to Creed’s and makes him a real, intimidating threat to Rocky even before they get into the ring – especially as well as verbally antagonising Rocky, he takes jabs at Adrian too which gets under Rocky’s skin.
I know there’s obviously a lot more Rocky films to watch but I do feel like Rocky III rounds out a pretty perfect trilogy of films. It covers the highs and lows of Rocky’s story so well without anything getting stale, and each film goes deeper into the different relationships Rocky has. Whether that’s his romance with Adrian, his working relationship with Mickey (Burgess Meredith), or even the start of a potentially great friendship with Apollo. Everything wraps up really nicely so it’ll be interesting to see if the next Rocky films have some of the same emotional weight to them as Rocky III and its predecessors do. 5/5.