Three years after Rocky’s win against Apollo Creed,
He’s still the champ and has the cash to finally succeed.
He’s no more just a bum; he’s Philly’s fighting favorite son
And can afford a charity match that’s turbulent but “fun.”
When Rocky’s famous statue’s being unveiled for a crowd,
A challenger named “Clubber” Lang intrudes a bit too loud.
He says he wants a match with Rock and will destroy the “fool,”
And Rocky wants to fight him too and take him back to school.
But something Clubber says makes Rocky ask his trainer Mick
If his past fights were set-ups, won through Mickey’s careful pick.
Though Mickey chose opponents Rocky certainly could beat,
He did it to protect him from the torment of defeat.
This Clubber is too hungry, too robust and young and strong,
For Rocky to face off against and share the ring for long.
Yet Rocky doesn’t listen, and he doesn’t train his best,
And when the fight arrives, poor Mickey clutches his own chest.
Mick’s heart is giving out, and this unsettles Rocky so,
That he can’t hold his own tonight and loses by K-O.
He cannot bring himself to tell his trainer that he failed,
And Mickey dies in Rocky’s arms, believing he prevailed.
Apollo comes to Rocky with an offer unexpected,
To train him that his pride and his career be resurrected.
He takes him to his L.A. gym where his own path began,
And Rocky relearns boxing through Apollo’s training plan.
But Rocky’s heart’s not in it; he’s afraid to fight because
Perhaps he wasn’t quite as skilled as he believed he was,
But Adrian, his wife, insists he salvage his career,
But he himself must do his best and conquer all his fear.
From then on out, he labors hard to raise his strength and speed.
Before long, he can outrun his new friend Apollo Creed.
The night arrives for Lang and Rocky’s rematch for the title;
While Rocky looks determined, Clubber’s looking homicidal.
As Rocky holds his own and Lang’s strong punching doesn’t work,
The former champ is trying to provoke, annoy, and irk.
Soon, Clubber’s rage is blinding, and then Rocky lets it rip
And knocks him out to retake the world boxing championship.
When all is said and done, when there’s no media or talk,
Apollo seeks a friendly rematch with his rival Rock.

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


Next: #188 – Twister

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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