Return to the ’80s Movies – Rocky III

Welcome to my contribution to the Box Office Jocks blog-a-thon, which I am hosting with Dubsism. If you are not following J-Dub, you should check out his awesome blog. Dubsismmainly concentrates on sports, and holds no punches, and tells it like it is, which is very entertaining. So, we combined the sports of Dubsism with the retro of Return to the ’80s, and present to you this blog-a-thon.

In addition to sharing the participants’ posts, I will also share my own article. This blog-a-thon is all about movies featuring actors who used to be athletes at the college, Olympic, or professional level, OR movies in which a famous athlete appears.

Not only did I pick a film that was a sports theme (which was not necessary), but this is a film that features a couple of professional athletes. A lot of people may not know this, but Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed) was a linebacker for the Oakland Raiders in 1971. He also spent two years in the Canadian football league. And of course, Rocky III features Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips. That role gave the professional wrestler national prominence before Hulkamania was born.

I saw Rocky III in the theater when it was originally released…most likely opening weekend. And I saw it many, many times after. It helped that it was in heavy rotation on HBO. However, it has been years since I have seen it. Funny how time slips away from you. I was a little nervous because this was one of my favorite movies in my teen years. I was afraid that it may come off as cheesy now that I’m older. I am happy to say that I still liked it just as much now as I did then, and maybe even more now. So, here is my review.

Sylvester Stallone
Talia Shire
Burt Young
Carl Weathers
Burgess Meredith
and introducing Mt. T

Rated PG
Runtime 1hr 39min
Released May 28, 1982
Synopsis: After winning the ultimate title and being the world champion, Rocky falls into a hole and finds himself picked up by a former enemy. – imdb

Last time I had seen this? Probably not since the late ’80s.

As with Rocky II, this movie opens with the end of the previous film’s match. And now that we are in the decade of montages, Rocky III immediately goes into a montage of Rocky defending his title, beating several opponents. Of course the song that is playing, is Survivor’s legendary “Eye of the Tiger” (which was my favorite all-time song at the time that this was released). As this is happening, a mohawked monster of a man is getting angry over each of Rocky’s wins. During the montage, we learn that his name is the perfect boxer name, Clubber Lang. We then see Clubber defeating several opponents, very viciously. Clubber is also very focused on training, which is just as aggressive as his fighting. At the same time, Rocky is having fun, making all kinds of media appearances, including The Muppet Show! So, we get the idea that Rocky is now coasting along, while Clubber is focused on climbing the ladder to get to the top. Hmmm. Maybe “Eye of the Tiger” is Clubber’s song, and not Rocky’s. And we are almost 7 minutes into the film before any dialogue is spoken.

Rocky’s popularity led him to a charity fight against a giant wrestler, called Thunderlips. Thunderlips was played by Hulk Hogan. This was pre-Hulkamania Hulk Hogan. Hogan had been wrestling in the AWA at the time. His scene in this movie, is what brought Hogan to the national stage. This was a fun match to watch. But, it wasn’t too fun for Mickey, as he started having problems with his heart when Rocky was getting tossed all over the place. This was a little foreshadowing of what was to come.

Next up, there is a statue dedication for Rocky at the iconic stairway by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where Rocky announces his retirement. Clubber Lang was in attendance, and lost his shit at that announcement. He was able to goad Rocky into finally getting a shot at the belt.

Rocky doesn’t take his training too seriously, as he makes it a public event, and even selling merchandise, and taking pictures, and receiving kisses from adoring women, much to Adrian’s chagrin. In the meantime, Clubber is training ruthlessly, just as Rocky did in the previous films.

Just before the big fight, Rocky and Clubber get in an altercation backstage. Clubber pushed Mickey, which caused Mickey to have a heart attack. Rocky was tempted to cancel the fight, but Mickey talked him into going out there.
Well, it turned out to be a bad day for Rocky. He got destroyed within 2 rounds. And Mickey died in front of Rocky.

After a mourning montage, Rocky’s old frenemy, Apollo Creed shows up, and convinces Rocky to not retire, and to work on getting that “eye of the tiger” back. Of course, there are strings attached. Apollo offers to train Rocky in exchange for a future favor. What favor? Apollo said, “You’ll see”. But in my mind, all I heard was “Ding. Ding.”

So Apollo takes Rocky to train at Apollo’s no frills gym where he once trained, Tough Gym in Los Angeles. Things are slow-going, as Rocky is still having a pity party, and training half-assed. I don’t know which was worse…the pity party, or Paulie’s racism. Of course, it took a talk with Adrian to pull his head out of his ass, in one of Talia Shire’s greatest scene’s ever. And that’s really saying something about The Godfather vet.

Then we really get back to basics, with a montage featuring Bill Conti’s classic, “Gonna Fly Now”. And now Rocky has earned my respect again.

This brings us to Madison Square Garden for the big rematch. Clubber’s interview before the fight, has two of the best quotes of any of the Rocky movies: “I pity the fool”, which of course, became Mr. T’s trademark line, and was one of the most iconic lines of the decade, and:

Interviewer: What’s your prediction for the fight?

Clubber Lang: My prediction?

Interviewer: Yes, your prediction.

Clubber Lang: Pain!

I suppose I’m confusing all my Rocky fights, but I didn’t realize that this did not last too long. As with all the final fights in all of the Rocky films, if you don’t get all pumped up, and feel good inside, then you are dead inside. Of course, Rocky has his eye of the tiger back. He put Apollo’s training to good use, along with his own boxing smarts, to wear down the champ. It was a very entertaining fight, and I loved the trash talking. There were just some parts that were distracting because it was visible that the punches were not landing. This seemed to happen with Stallone’s punches on Mr. T. Mr. T’s punches looked pretty real. It doesn’t matter though. It was just great seeing the underdog come out on top.

And now it was time for Rocky to pay his favor to Apollo. The favor was a rematch, which was their own private fight. The punch each other into a freeze frame, closing out to “Eye of the Tiger”. We don’t find out until 2015’s Creed.

Worth the Return?
Yes! The Rocky series had become a running joke with all the sequels. I personally loved all of them. But, I understand how it could get that long-in-the-tooth reputation. But, this film was just a strong as the first two movies. You witness Rocky’s fall from grace, and then rise from the ashes. I am not a professional film critic by any means, but I feel that every single performance was outstanding. It is definitely worth a re-watch, especially if you haven’t seen it in a while. I also saw it with a little different eyes this time. Clubber Lang wasn’t as evil as I had remembered. He was an angry dude. However, he was hungry for the title, and did come after it honestly. I could understand his frustration of not getting a title shot, and why he went about getting the title shot like he did. Apollo trash talked in the previous movies just as bad as Clubber did in this one. The only thing that made Apollo the antagonist was his cocky attitude. Clubber had the attitude, and was a more dangerous opponent for Rocky. However, even though I understood Clubber a little more now, I still found myself rooting for Rocky again at the end.


4 Eyes of the tiger

Does the movie stand the test of time?
Considering they are still making these movies (in the form of Creed), I would say yes.

What did you think of this movie? Which Rocky movie is your favorite?

5 thoughts on “Return to the ’80s Movies – Rocky III”

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