I've sadly never seen a Rocky film on the big screen but they've always been a staple of my movie viewing diet. 1982's Rocky III sees Sylvester Stallone writing and directing as well as showcasing his more familiar, ripped and vascular condition after being more of a hulking bruiser in Rocky and it's sequel. On top of the world with 10 title defenses to his name, Rocky runs into the menacing, hungry and formidable wrecking machine that is Mr. T's Clubber Lang. A worthy contender with a big mouth, Lang isn't shy to confront Rocky but trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith, View In Peace) is having none of it. When Rocky and Clubber finally meet, it's bad news as Mickey dies backstage during the match then Rock gets pummeled and Knocked Out. After struggling and taking his million to one shot, boxer Rocky did the worst thing for a fighter, he got civilized and soft with endorsement deals, a big house, stylish treads and shiny cars. Wanting to retire and wallow in his realization that he held the title too long, former rival and champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) comes knocking with a proposition. On one hand Creed wants to help Rocky get his edge back, or The Eye of the Tiger as well as sell the rematch into one of the biggest fights of all time against the disrespectful Lang. Traveling to the ghetto of Los Angeles, Rocky finds his guts with the help of wife Adrian (Talia Shire), confronting his fear of losing what he has and trains old school, regaining the edge and hunger necessary to defeat Lang in the rematch.
incredible fighter entrance featuring a ring rising from the floor, dancers, singers, brass band, James Brown performing and Carl Weathers dancing in an American flag outfit consisting of a vest with coattails and top hat. While some might not appreciate the simple story: Apollo gets killed, Rocky trains, fights Drago, wins Cold War, I find it all to be incredibly entertaining and inspiring. Once again Stallone writes and directs with heart and style as Apollo questions what happens to the warrior class when there's no fight or challenge, Drago has to figure out being a propaganda tool while fighting for himself, Rocky realizing he can win because he's willing to die and his poor wife Adrian who suffers through all of this. While Weathers was a great corner man in III, Tony Burton's Duke edges him out here by being paternal and an incredibly great screamer. "Take it to him, no pain!" "This is your whole life!" "You see?! He's not a machine, he's a man!" "Punch, punch until you can't punch no more!" Then you have the awesome training sequences with Rocky out in the wilderness with no real equipment, just running in the snow, carrying logs, lifting carriages and doing chins while Dolph has a whole team of scientists and equipment around like treadmills, versa climbers and the juice. All set to Vince DiCola's incredible synth score, the only Rocky film not to have orchestral music by Bill Conti. Watching it again I was surprised at how brutal Apollo's death scene was and how heart string pulling Rocky's driving around remembering his life up until that point is constructed. Of course Dolph is perfectly cast as the seemingly unstoppable specimen of a man but is given just enough humanity and free will so you don't hate him. After Weathers' fast talking, big idea, cocky and funny Creed followed by T's grunting and straight mean barking, Dolph plays it near silent, stoic and intimidating.