Rocky Loves it When a Plan Comes Together
Having gone toe to toe twice with Apollo Creed in 1982 we got a third outing for Sylvester Stallone's iconic Rocky Balboa and the question was would "Rocky III" be more of the same. Well the answer was sort of because whilst the storyline moved on and tried to develop a slightly different element of riches to rags the main points which made the previous "Rocky" movies so special, the big choreographed fights, the inspirational training and so on all returned to give "Rocky III" a very familiar feel.
Having finally beaten Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in their rematch, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone - Escape to Victory) is now the World Heavyweight Champion and enjoying all the trappings of a celebrity life style, whilst holding on to his title thanks to Mickey (Burgess Meredith - Mackenna's Gold) picking him lesser opponents. But when he is goaded into fighting Clubber Lang (Mr. T) Rocky finally loses, not just the title but a lot more. But with Apollo Creed stepping in to train him he tries to reinvigorate Rocky's passion for boxing in time for the rematch.
Whilst I applaud Sylvester Stallone for trying to come up with a new angle for "Rocky III" I can't say that I enjoyed it that much as it plays like two separate movies. The first half pretty much concentrates on Rocky having now been crowned World Heavyweight Champion succumbing to a celebrity like life style where he poses for adverts, endorses more products than even David Beckham and believes his own hype. Of course it's a set up of pride becomes before a fall and in the wings is waiting the menacing Clubber Lang wanting to take the belt off of him. It's a nice angle, a nice look at how having reached the pinnacle the passion can be lost in amongst all the gloss.
But it dwells on it all too long. The excruciatingly long charity fight between Balboa and wrestler Thunderlips, played by Hulk Hogan, just feels wrong as if Stallone was trying to draw on Hogan's popularity to get more bums on seats. In fact it's quite funny that during the actual fight Thunderlips is a bad guy who gets booed but then is nice as pie afterwards, it's as if Hogan agreed to be the bad guy only if he could then be a nice guy so not to tarnish his fledgling popularity. The same can be said of other elements such as Stallone's continual romancing of his wife Adrian. If only this side of "Rocky III" had been less focussed upon it would have been much better, although the circus style training session in a hotel is quite amusing.
Once we get past all of this nonsense and onto the actual boxing side of things "Rocky III" improves with some nice developments which see Rocky being beaten by Lang, losing his focus on boxing and being trained by Apollo himself. Of course all of this means we get those stereotypical moments, the inspirational training choreographed to a prominent soundtrack and of course the rematch, the big final fight. It wouldn't be a "Rocky" movie without these elements and as always they are entertaining.
Probably the best thing about "Rocky III" is that alongside the regular faces such as Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Burgess Meredith, who all carry on with the same solid performances from the previous two movies; we also get Mr T. as bad guy Clubber Lang. Now "Rocky III" came before Mr. T shot to fame as the popular B.A. Baracus in "The A-Team" but there is something quite good watching him playing this mean, despicable fighter who flouts the rules to destroy opponents. It's great characterisation from Mr. T and is more convincing as a boxer than Carl Weathers was as his boxer who really was more of a showman.
What this all boils down to is that "Rocky III" is for the most your stereotypical "Rocky" movie, with all those popular elements and characters returning from the first two movies. It tries to develop a different storyline before giving the audience what it wants but for me it dwells on the celebrity side of Rocky's life too long, becoming a little too cheesy. But then it doesn't disappoint when we get the training sequences and big fight scene.
Tags: Boxing Movies