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Directed and written by Sylvester Stallone. Produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Release date: May 28, 1982.
Rocky II, like its predecessor, made a ton of money, still captured the hearts of millions - although, like, some number fewer than the original - and was overall pretty solid, so, three years later, Rocky III was released. Still written and directed by, and also starring, Sylvester Stallone, and bringing back several of the main cast, it felt like the franchise had a formula down and was going to stick to it.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone): A previously unknown boxer who went toe-to-toe with the World Heavyweight Champion in his first match against him, later winning the title in the rematch.
Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire): Rocky's love interest, wife, and mother of his child.
Paulie Pennino (Burt Young): Adrian's brother and Rocky's friend. Returns in future movies.
James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T): The film's antagonist. A ruthless up-and-coming boxer who wants to defeat Rocky for the championship.
Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers): The former World Heavyweight Champion, he becomes Rocky's trainer in Rocky III.
Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith): A former boxer. Owns the local gym.
After beating Apollo Creed in the 15th round of their second match, Rocky Balboa became the World Heavyweight Champion. In the three years since then, he's had several title defences and now enjoys both fame and wealth. But after being taunted by a man named James "Clubber" Lang, a match between the two is scheduled. The day of the match, Mickey, Rocky's trainer, has a heart attack. An unfocused and cocky Rocky fights Lang and loses in the second round via knockout. Mickey then passes away.
At ringside was Creed, who offers to train Rocky for the rematch - in exchange for a favor. The training doesn't initially go well, as Rocky is still distraught by Mickey's death, but after some help from Adrian, he snaps out of it and continues on with his training.
During the rematch, Rocky shows off a new strategy: wearing Lang out by taunting him and taking his abuse. After Lang falls for it, Rocky lands a series of shots which knock out his opponent. Rocky once again becomes champion. Some time later, Rocky and Apollo have a rematch in private, which was the favor that Apollo wanted in exchange for his help. They're now friendly with one another, instead of the enemies they once were.
Is It Any Good?
Putting Rocky in the position that Creed was in the first film, as well as adding on the emotional drama that comes from Mickey's death, allowed Rocky III to be still worthwhile, although it's a film that is only moderately successful. It's harder to become invested, largely because it still winds up being more of the same. Even though Rocky starts as the overconfident champion, the crux of the film still puts him in the underdog role, which is where he always is. He wins by taking a lot of abuse, something else he often does. And I, for one, really wanted Rocky/Creed #3, which the film teases but then fades to black before it commences.