Perhaps Rocky IV would have been a more patriotic film for Independence Day, and I certainly like it as well (it has some of the best musical montages of the whole series), but I prefer Rocky III over any of the other sequels. It’s pretty much the usual plotline with Rocky Balboa facing a big fight, which he ends up training hard for and winning at the end, but this third film throws in some variables that make it special.
Perhaps the biggest emotional punch is the death of Burgess Meredith’s gruff trainer Mickey Goldmill. Since he was already old at the start of the series, his heart troubles are certainly believable, and his death scene really is heartbreaking. The other thing that sets this film apart is Mr. T as Clubber Lang. Though he was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst New Star, I think he’s the best antagonist of the Rocky films. While Rocky IV’s Drago was practically a machine and Apollo Creed was moderately sympathetic, Clubber is so in-your-face belligerent with his patented “I-pity-the-fool” delivery that it’s that much more satisfying when he is finally defeated. I also appreciate how Apollo becomes more of a friendly rival, helping Rocky to “rise up to the challenge of [his] rival.”
The training scenes aren’t the best of the series, but Hulk Hogan has a fun cameo as Thunderlips, “the Mountain of Molten Lust,” and the final fight with Lang is a stand-out. Unlike almost all the others in which Rocky’s hard head just takes a pounding to basically outlast the other guy, here he actually uses a strategy to make Clubber so angry that he tires himself out so that Rocky can overcome. Rocky’s actually active and more conscious by the end of the fight so that there can be a nice little post-fight scene with Apollo. Also, Survivor’s ”Eye of the Tiger” perfectly bookends the film and earns placement in my End Credits Song Hall of Fame. Rocky III may be rather predictable, but it’s formula done well.Best line: (Rocky, referring to Thunderlips, the wrestling champ) “Wow, he’s awful big. Hey, Mick, how much do you think he eats?” (Mickey) “About 202 pounds.” (the announcer, introducing Rocky) “Weighing in at 202 pounds…”
Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: N/A Originality: 8 Watchability: 9 TOTAL: 42 out of 60
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© 2014 S. G. Liput
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