Will success spoil Rocky Balboa? According to Rocky III. But Mr. T will come along to beat the living snot out of him and Apollo will not only become his pal, but teach Rocky African-American rhythm, so it all works out y the end.
Rocky III is a dramatic shift from the first two films. Gone is much of the gritty, but honest humanity to be replaced by a sell out Rocky, manufactured to be an American hero and the glitzy Adrian who has replaced the humble, shy version. It is definitely as though the previous films have been completely forgotten. Rocky is permed, pretty, and soft as cotton candy in his newly found wealthy lifestyle.
Certainly, this is all set up for Rocky’s downfall at the fists of Clubber Lang (Mr. T) so he ca be built back up to the good natured scrapper he was before. The plan works effectively by Hollywood standards. Rocky III is another one of those films in which you like the protagonist succeed even if the journey to reach that point is rather silly.
Rocky has been built up into a sports icon by pounding a bunch of unworthy contenders in defending his title at the same time has gone Hollywood, appearing with the Muppets and duking it out in a charity event against Hulk Hogan. At the unveiling of a statue in his honor, he is taunted by Lang, a younger and more vicious fighter. Against Mick’s advice, he agrees to a match.
Rocky get the stuffing beat out of him as Mick dies of a heart attack over the stress of a pre-fight confrontation. Rough night for both of them, no?
Rocky falls into a deep depression, but is pushed out of it by Apollo, who offers to train him for a rematch. The training journey is not as poignant as in the first film. There Rocy need to believe in himself. Here he is far more emotionally damaged. The hurt I to the point you wonder if there is wisdom in putting him back into the ring.
But then you get lost in the absurdity of Apollo turning Rocky into a black fighter by teaching him rhythm. Well, it works. In the rematch, Rocky is able to dodge most of Lang’s punches. As he gets more frustrated, Lang becomes sloppier until Rocky can finally unload on him. Moral of the story: Sylvester Stallone can be blacker than Mr. T wit Carl Weaters’ advice.
That ought to merit four stars, right? how about Rocky III being such an essential ’80’s icon? The Rocky series is losing its heart, but Rocky III is still a very entertaining movie.
Rating: **** (out of 5)