Rocky III (1982) is the third installment in the Rocky movie series. It is directed by and stars Sylvester Stallone as the title character, with Carl Weathers as former boxing rival Apollo Creed, and Talia Shire as Rocky's wife, Adrian.
Rocky's opponent is James "Clubber" Lang, played by former bodyguard Mr. T. Lang is a younger and more aggressive boxer than Rocky. He is brash, outspoken, and charismatic. The part made Mr. T an icon, leading to him being one of the first elements outlined for The A-Team television series.
The film also features professional wrestler Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea as the supporting character "Thunderlips". The role brought Hogan to a widespread audience.
Rocky III begins with the ending of the 15th round of the rematch between Rocky and Apollo Creed, with Rocky Balboa becoming the new heavyweight champion of the world. This is followed by an opening montage of scenes that explain what happened in the time between Rocky II and Rocky III. In the five years since winning the heavyweight title from Apollo (1976-1981), Rocky starts a string of 10 successful title defenses, including venues at New York's Radio City Music Hall, Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, and an overseas bout in Germany. As his winning streak grows, so does his fame, wealth and celebrity, and soon Rocky is seen everywhere, from magazine covers to TV show guest star appearances. Rocky is also heavily merchandised, including T-shirts and his own "Crunch Punch" chocolate bars, and appears as a spokesman for Tony Lama boots, General Mills cereals (namely Wheaties), and American Express, to name a few. At the same time, a ferocious new boxer named James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. T) (a fighter based on George Foreman and Larry Holmes) is climbing the ranks, rapidly becoming the number one contender for Rocky's title.
The year is 1981 and Rocky’s brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) has grown jealous of Rocky’s accomplishments. After a night of heavy drinking, Paulie stumbles into a video arcade, destroys a ROCKY pinball machine in a rage and is arrested. Rocky goes to bail him out of jail and, on the way to Rocky's car to ride home, Paulie begins berating Rocky for apparently forgetting him on his climb to the top. Rocky calls Paulie a "jealous, lazy bum" and Paulie starts lunging at him. Although he throws them like a pro, none of the punches land on Rocky, Paulie swallows his pride and asks Rocky for a job working his corner and helping him train. Rocky, frustrated but still loyal to his brother-in-law, replies, "All you had to do was ask!"
Rocky agrees to a charity boxer vs. wrestler match with Wrestling champion, Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan). Rocky treats the whole affair as light-hearted fun, flicking gentle punches at Thunderlips, who attacks Rocky with a variety of wrestling moves, most notably Hulk Hogan's own signature move, The Atomic Leg Drop. After being thrown out of the ring, Rocky decides to remove his gloves and fights back, even managing to throw Thunderlips out of the ring himself. Just as the match degenerates into a shoot fight, the bell rings and the match is declared a draw. Thunderlips calms down, even agreeing to have his picture taken with Rocky's family. When Rocky asks Thunderlips how he got so crazy, he merely replies "That's the name of the game."
Rocky has a statue unveiled in Philadelphia and reveals his plans to retire from boxing. The crowd of Rocky fans disapproves of his decision. Clubber Lang, who is in attendance at the ceremony, challenges Rocky, this time criticizing Rocky’s title defenses as being intentional set-ups against weak, overmatched "bums." Furthermore, he harasses Adrian by saying, "You wanna see a real man? Come over to my place and I'll show you a real man." Angered by the sexually suggestive remark, Rocky agrees to the fight, but Mickey, his trainer, wants no part of it. Returning home, Rocky argues with Mickey; he admits to Rocky that the fighters he defended his title against were hand-picked (or in Mickey's own words, "they were good fighters but they weren't killers"), but it was only because Rocky received such a bad beating (that should have killed him) in his win over Creed, that Mickey took it upon himself to make sure Rocky remained successful and healthy. He also tells Rocky that Lang is a young and hungry "wrecking machine" and that Rocky has no chance beating him since he, according to Mickey, hasn't been hungry since winning the belt. Rocky manages to convince Mickey to train him, but his Las Vegas-style training camp is filled with distractions. Clubber's training regiment of working out by himself in a rundown building with whatever he has clearly shows that he means business when it comes down to the bout.
Lang and Rocky meet at Philadelphia's Spectrum on August 15th 1981. During a melee before the fight, Mickey is shoved out of the way by Lang, not knowing about his faltering health and suffers a heart attack. Rocky wishes to call the fight off, but Mickey urges him on while he stays in the dressing room. By the time of the fight, Rocky is both enraged and severely distracted by his mentor's condition. The fight begins, and Rocky starts well, pounding Lang with huge blows, but Lang soon goes to work and shows he is a lethal, brutal fighter by slamming the champ around and decking him at the bell. Round two has Rocky in serious trouble as Lang brutally attacks him unmercifully, and Rocky is savagely knocked down with a hook that nearly separates his head from his shoulders. This time he is counted out, losing the title.
Beaten, Rocky makes his way back to the dressing room and the fallen Mickey who is failing fast. Kneeling at his side, Rocky speaks to his friend in his dying moments, telling him that the fight ended in the second by a knockout, sparing Mickey the truth as his old mentor passes away. Following the funeral, Rocky faces a depression mixed with anger, and while driving his motorcycle, he tosses his helmet into the statue in a fit of rage, but it only makes the statue fidget slightly.
Stopping by Mickey's abandoned gym, Rocky is confronted by Apollo Creed, who offers to help train him. Previously, Creed's offer to shake hands with both fighters was sharply rebuffed by Lang, who called Creed a "has-been" and even challenged the former champion. Apollo makes a pitch to snap Rocky out of his funk and get him back on the winning track. He vows to train Rocky to fight Lang again, the way Apollo thinks he should be fought. He slowly convinces him that he can regain the fire Rocky thrived on in his earlier days, and tells him he must again have the "eye of the tiger", his fighting spirit, mainly by starting from scratch. Apollo takes Rocky to the slums of Los Angeles so that Rocky can get back to the basics. The duo also meet up with Creed's old manager, Tony "Duke" Evers, who has enthusiastically agreed to assist Creed in training Rocky. At first, Rocky is too demoralized to put forth his best efforts. However, after admitting to Adrian that he's afraid and that his previous post-Apollo fights were set-ups, Adrian tells Rocky to do the fight for himself, and no one else, he pulls himself together to train as hard as he can, adding Apollo's speed and skill to his own style of fighting. During his training, Rocky forges a deep bond with both Duke and (especially) Apollo, their relationship evolving from former adversaries to close friends. Because they offer Rocky their unyielding support and loyalty, they fill the void left in his heart by the absence of Mickey Goldmill.
The rematch is held on January 12 1982 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Though the odds of Rocky regaining the title are strongly against him, Rocky is ready for anything. Meanwhile, in a pre-fight interview, Lang, calmer and much more willing to talk to the press this time says, "No, I don't hate Balboa, but I pity the fool." When asked for a prediction for their rematch, he replied, "Pain ..." As the two fighters get their instructions from the referee, they stand nose to nose in center ring. Rocky now wearing the stars and stripes trunks, with Clubber this time in black. In the first fight, the same pose brought averted eyes from Rocky, but now he stands up fully concentrated to Clubber's challenging stare.
At the start of the fight, Rocky sprints from his corner and goes right after Lang from the off, fighting with a level of skill and spirit that no one, including Lang, expected. As a result Rocky completely dominates the first round, scoring punch after punch and demonstrating his newfound speed, modeled somewhat after Apollo's fighting style. In the second round, Lang gains the upper hand, and Rocky adopts an entirely different strategy that bewilders Apollo; he intentionally takes a beating from Lang, whilst taunting him for being unable to knock him out.
In Round 3, Lang, who is used to winning fights swiftly with knockouts in the early rounds, quickly expends his energy trying to finish Rocky off, to no avail. Rocky retalliates and knocks out a confused and befuddled Lang with a devastating counter-attack of his own, regaining his world heavyweight championship and recovering his self-respect.
Soon afterwards, Rocky and Apollo return to Mickey's gym, with Apollo revealing the price of his training: a third fight with Rocky. However, this time it would only be a sparring match between two new friends, which Rocky accepts.
A bronze statue of Rocky, called "ROCKY", was commissioned by Sylvester Stallone and created by A. Thomas Schomberg in 1981. Three statues were created and one was placed on the top of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the filming of Rocky III. After filming was complete, a furious debate erupted in Philadelphia between the Art Museum and the City's Art Commission over the meaning of "art". Claiming the statue was not "art" but rather a "movie prop" the city considered various alternate locations and settled upon the front of the Wachovia Spectrum in South Philadelphia. It was later returned to the Art Museum where it was used in the filming of Rocky V, as well as Mannequin and Philadelphia. Afterward, it was again moved to the front of the Spectrum. The statue was returned to the museum's steps on September 8, 2006.
The third of the three statues was listed on eBay in early 2005, with a starting bid of US$5,000,000. It was being auctioned to raise funds for the International Institute for Sport and Olympic History. It failed to sell and was listed again for US$3 million; after receiving only one bid, which turned out to be fraudulent, it has been relisted several times for US$1 million.
The statues weigh 800 pounds each and stand about 8'6" tall.
UK Date: 04/09/1982 - Run: 52-*42*-47-43-50-55-77 (7 wks)
US Date: 10/07/1982 - Run: 72-42-34-30-21-19-*15*-15-15-15-15-33-59-79-100-115-138-158-199 (19 wks)