Rocky III (1982) is an American sports drama film starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, and Mr. T. The film was written by and directed by Sylvester Stallone.
The film starts with the classic "ROCKY III" side-scrolling intro , this time with The Ring Heavyweight Championship Title Belt in the background instead of a black background that was used in ROCKY (1976) and ROCKY II (1979). The film has a flashback of what happened from the previous installment, ROCKY II.
We see the rematch between Rocky Balboa (The Challenger) and World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed. Both of the men after 14 rounds of intense fighting collapse to the ground. If Creed makes it back up, he retains the title. If Rocky makes it up, he is the new Heavyweight Champion of the World. If neither make it up, it is a draw and Creed automatically retains the title. Rocky makes it up while Apollo collapses. Rocky shocks the world and is crowned the NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD. He throws the title over his shoulder and gives Mickey a hug in the final scene.
After the flashback/intro, we are introduced to the beginning of ROCKY III. After winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) enjoys the rich life. He has had 10 title defenses and has won each and every won of them. He is currently on top of the world. He and his wife, Adrian (Talia Shire) are living very prosperous and have nothing to worry about. Rocky has now made millions of dollars and millions of fans across the world. Rocky goes to a press conference where he is awarded a statue of himself placed at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Adrian and Rocky's trainer, Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) are with him as well. This is where Rocky announces his retirement. That is, until the #1 Ranked Heavyweight Contender - James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T.) challenges him to a Championship bout. Rocky accepts the offer. Mickey is hesitant at first but Rocky convinces him to train him. Rocky, filled with the fans and money, becomes over confident with this fight. Mickey, however, wants him and Rocky to go back to the old gym and make Rocky train hard. Rocky declines. Eventually, the fight takes place. Mickey has a heart attack and is in critical condition. Rocky hesitates to go out and fight because of Mickey's health. He asks Adrian what to do. Mickey yells at him and tells him to go out and fight using a passionate tone. Rocky, taking Mickey's advice, goes out and fights Clubber. Rocky, undetermined and under confident from Mickey's heart problem, gets KO'd by Clubber Lang in the 2nd Round and loses the title. CLUBBER LANG is the NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD. After the fight, Rocky rushes to Mickey's side and talks to him. Mickey expresses his admiration and respect for Rocky before slowly fading away. Mickey dies on the spot.
Shortly after Mickey's death, Rocky and Adrian have a funeral for Mickey. The funeral is very short and very private. After the funeral, Rocky drives on his motorcycle through Philadelphia. He visits the "ROCKY" statue mentioned earlier in the film and he throws his helmet at the statue out of anger as to what has happened. He goes and visits "Mighty Mick's Boxing" Gym, which was were Rocky trained with Mickey before he died. He reminisces his past days. Former World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) talks to Rocky and offers to train him for a rematch with Clubber Lang. Rocky accepts. Rocky, Adrian, Apollo, and Paulie (Rocky's friend; Adrian's brother) (Burt Young) go to California. Apollo trains Rocky there at Tough Gym where Apollo started training as a boxer. Rocky starts training like a bum afraid of the fight and having little confidence in himself. Apollo and Adrian encourage him to fight with full 100% heart, but for himself. Not over Mickey's death, not for the money or fans, and not for the title. Rocky then puts 100% into his training. We are shown a training montage with Creed training Rocky and Creed running with Rocky across the beach.
The rematch takes place at Madison Square Garden. Apollo wants Rocky to wear his "American" (Red, White, and Blue) trunks that Creed wore in the original fight with Rocky Balboa from the original ROCKY (1976). Rocky agrees and Apollo mentions a favor that Rocky owes him after the fight is over.
Rocky and Clubber head into the ring with their crew at ringside. The fight begins. Rocky and Clubber go head to head. Rocky then uses his stamina and lets the champ beat him up really hard. Rocky waits until Clubber is tired and then goes in with the punches. Rocky KO'S Clubber Lang in the 3rd Round. Rocky exhausted from the match, joins with Adrian, Paulie, and Creed. Rocky Balboa is for a second time crowned the NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD.
Rocky joins Creed in the gym for a fight behind closed doors with no press or media. Just a fair fight. Rocky and Apollo go in with punches and the film ends with Rocky and Creed fighting. It is unknown who wins the fight. End Credits.
"Rocky III" was made on a budget of $17,000,000. The film grossed $270,000,000, making it the 2nd most successful film financially in the entire series.
Sylvester Stallone returned to direct ROCKY III (1982), after previously directing ROCKY II (1979). He directed the film due to John G. Avildsen (the director of the original ROCKY) rejecting. John G. Avildsen rejected to direct the film because he deeply wanted Stallone to direct the film after the massive success of ROCKY II.
The movie's hit song, Survivor - "Eye of the Tiger" topped the charts and was nominated an Academy Award for Best Original Song. This song is still referenced and used to this day.
ROCKY III (1982) is a very interesting sequel as it is much different from its predecessors. While not as good as ROCKY and ROCKY II, ROCKY III is still a classic and one of the best in the ROCKY franchise. Highly recommended.