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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lim

MF 428 : Summer movie series: Rocky III (1982)

I kick off the 2023 summer movie series with Rocky III (1982), an underrated sequel in the highly successful Rocky franchise that provides the foundation for later sequels and the recent Creed spinoff films. More at

[Note: starting next week, the summer movie series episodes will air on Fridays.]

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Rocky III (1982)

Rocky III is the third film in the franchise: a sequel to Rocky II (1979) and the original Rocky (1976). Sylvester Stallone returns in the beloved titular role that he created, and which continues to inspire audiences to this day. Five years have passed since Rocky won the heavyweight championship of the world after defeating the reigning champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in the second film. Rocky is now on the top of the world, having achieved wealth, fame, and now has a family. As Rocky is basking in the limelight, he starts to lose his edge, becoming comfortable and complacent. Meanwhile, a new challenger, Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T in his on screen debut, rises through the ranks and seeks to dethrone Balboa while proving that he's is a fraud. Mickey (Burgess Meredith), Rocky's trainer and surrogate father figure, is reluctant to train Rocky because he sees Lang as a true threat. Despite this, Rocky ignores Mickey's warning and decides to accept Lang's challenge with disastrous and tragic results. Rocky, devastated and heartbroken, is ready to give it all up until an unlikely figure from his past arrives to help him start over.

The good:

  • Strong performances by the cast.

  • Confident, fast paced storytelling.

  • The film expands on character and story arcs established from the prior films while setting the foundation for later sequels, including the Creed spinoff series.

  • Incredible score by Bill Conti.

  • Visually interesting and (at the time) cutting edge cinematography.

The bad:

  • There's a fun but silly scene early on of Rocky fighting a wrestler for charity (played by Hulk Hogan), which hasn't aged well and doesn't add much to the story.

  • Clubber Lang isn't well developed as a character and the movie could have benefited from a richer backstory. That said, Mr. T provides a strong debut performance with the material he's given.


  • **** (out of five)

Where you can watch Rocky III:

  • Currently streaming on Netflix.

  • Currently streaming on Amazon Prime (try it out through my affiliate link).

  • Buy Rocky III on digital or physical media (affiliate link).

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