"Rocky III" hits the ground running and never backs off. It offers a recap of the last fight between Rocky and Creed, followed by an exciting montage that contrasts Rocky's success with Clubber Lang's ascent of the boxing rankings. The opening montage is set to “Eye of the Tiger” which, in addition to being an awesome Oscar-nominated song, establishes a theme that will become one of the main lessons that Rocky learns throughout the film. It's fun to finally see The Italian Stallion as a successful boxer and enjoying his fame. The first films portray Rocky as a hard worker whose success is half skill and half luck; this time, he continually proves his skill and is rewarded for it. As a result, Rocky becomes more like Apollo and Lang becomes more like Rocky. The film takes an interesting turn with the whole Hulk Hogan charity match (which I always felt was out of place) but I now see how it fits in with the growth of Rocky's image beyond his control. The best thing about this movie is that there is a ton of boxing and it is frequent from start to finish. The editing of the boxing sequences continues to grow more impressive and intense as the series progresses. It seems like each film in the series gives another actor a chance to come alive and this one is Talia Shire's. Her character is very shy and reserved but this is where she transforms into a strong woman. “Rocky III” is underrated and often overlooked in favor of the fourth film, but the emotions that drive “Rocky IV” are completely dependent on the developing friendship between Rocky and Apollo in this film. The iconic ending seals our hatred for the Russian in IV. If you binge-watch the series, you will find that there are a lot of moments recycled from prior films (Rocky learning a new style of boxing, wanting to give up, needing a motivational speech then working the hardest that he ever has), but for whatever reason this equation works over and over again. “Rocky III” is a great film that marks important developments in Rocky’s boxing success, his relationship with Apollo Creed, and his relationship with his wife. It may often be forgotten but I would argue that III is pivotal in the story arc of the entire series, especially now that “Creed” has been released and heavily relies on these developments.
[Pictured: Stallone is as fierce as ever in the Creed shorts]