Following his victorious second bout with Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa becomes the Champion. His reign as the best boxer in his field continues for six years. Rocky becomes a celebrity, buying a mansion for his wife and son. He’s also becomes an icon, thanks to countless merchandising deals. A new challenger emerges, far hungrier for the championship. Clubber Lang’s determination to best Balboa concludes when he soundly beats Rocky in a match. He also indirectly causes the death of Mickey. Beaten and broken, Rocky now trains with Apollo, looking to reclaim his desire to win.
If one believes that Rocky Balboa’s story arc is directly related to Sylvester Stallone’s career, “Rocky III” represents another major change. Rocky has won and is resting comfortably at the top. Following the success of “Rocky II,” Stallone’s status as a box office star was confirmed. Yet Rocky looses his initial fight with Lang because he’s lost the hunger. The Eye of the Tiger, as Apollo and the infectious theme song put it. An intense argument with Adrian and Apollo’s training regime allows Rocky to regain his fighting spirit. Stallone, meanwhile, was fearful of loosing the drive that got the first “Rocky” made. In time, Sly would sell out, making shitty movies for big paydays. But he wasn’t willing to compromise yet and that desire shined through in the script for ‘Rocky III.”
B.A. Baracus, is a flamboyant performer of limited range but intense charisma. He plays Lang as an iron-willed sociopath, whose entire life revolves around crushing his enemy. It’s not especially subtle or realistic. However, it’s certainly entertaining. (Despite his previous appearance in “Penitentiary II,” Mr. T gets an “And Introducing” credit.)
The decision to kill off Mickey also represents Sly’s need to continuously up the series’ stakes. Burgess Meredith’s exit produces a moment both saddening and comical, when Stallone blubbers unintelligibly. It also opens the door for Apollo Creed becoming Rocky’s trainer. Once bitter enemies, Apollo and Rocky soon become inseparable bros. He moves Balboa to L.A., training him a gritty gym. His attempts to teach Stallone rhythm stymies at first, rather comically. Before too long, Creed and Balboa are running on a beach in slow motion. Their tiny shorts and shirts ride up, revealing their glistening, buff bodies. They then leap into each other’s arms, amid the splashing waves. Yes, it’s pretty hilariously overwrought and properly homoerotic. Yet it still makes me laugh too much not to love.
“Rocky III” is a much sillier movie then its predecessors. The cameo from Hulk Hogan as pro-wrestler Thunderlips should make that much apparent. It lacks the dramatic soundness of the first one or the smart sequel writing of the second. Instead, it’s a cornball, crowd-pleasing bit of boxing spectacle. That gives it value in its own way. Any movie that brings us Survivor telling us to meet the challenge of our rivals can’t be all bad. [7/10]
[THE STALLOWNAGE OF SLY: 4 outta 5]
[X] Frank Stallone or Frank Stallone-esque Inspirational Music
[X] Incapacitates or Kills Someone With His Body
[X] Shows Off Buffness
 Social Outcast
[X] Sweaty, Veiny Yelling