Rocky III Movie Poster Image

Rocky III



Sly's boxing saga begins to go lightweight.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1982
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Rocky Balboa remains a hero here, literally star-spangled, and Apollo Creed has also turned into a good sport. In fact, they're pretty much too good to be true, with the nemesis Clubber Lang such a figure of pure evil he may as well breath fire. There's an uncomfortable racial subtext in the gentlemanly white boxer vs. the bestial black one, though Apollo Creed as a mentor figure takes some nasty edge off.


Rocky and Clubber Lang take a pounding in their fight scenes, and Rocky gets tossed around by a wrestler. Still, it's more cartoony and WWE-like than bloody.


Both the villainous Clubber Lang and a pro wrestler named Thunderlips boast of their sexual prowess. Scantily clad girls are ringside.


Trainer Mickey says "hell" a lot.


Rocky is shown on a spread of real-life magazine covers and there's a montage of him as an advertising pitchman.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Recreational drinking and smoking, mostly by Rocky's brother in-law, who gets drunk at one point and thrown in jail.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, in typical Hollywood fashion, glorifies the brutal sport of boxing as the way our champ hero proves his intrinsic worth. While previous films in the Rocky series (and other boxing dramas) showed the wounds inflicted and talked up the long-term physical damage associated with pugilism, this one shows the two-fisted violence with no consequences. It's more like pro wrestling -- which, by the way, got a big plug, with cameo by Hulk Hogan -- and should probably be put in the same class.

What's the story?

Conveniently forgetting the health problems that threatened him in Rocky II, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote and directed) reigns in ROCKY III as superstar World Heavyweight Champion prizefighter. He's on the verge of retiring undefeated when he's taunted by a contender, a ferocious Chicago brawler called Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Lang demands a showdown with Rocky. Rocky is shocked to find that his longtime trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) has been lining up easy opponents all along. Mickey thinks that the wealthy, comfortable Rocky has gone soft (never mind that Stallone never looked so muscular), that the good life has taken away the "eye of the tiger" needed to defeat a raw scrapper like Clubber. Rocky goes through with the fight, but Mickey suffers a seizure backstage. Rocky is knocked out, losing his title to the gloating Lang. Then a new mentor appears -- none other than Rocky's old foe, former champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), who takes Rocky to a seedy slum gym to try to restore the "eye of the tiger".

Is it any good?


Rocky III allocates no human qualities of athletic competition to the Clubber Lang character; he's a one-dimensional bully with no back story or redeeming features. Which is too bad, because Mr. T -- with no major alteration to his persona or look or catchphrase "I pity the fool!" -- went on to be a kids' action hero on TV's The A-Team and even his own Saturday-morning TV cartoon. The original 1976 Rocky was more than just a sports action flick; it had a solid character-building message in its tale of lowly Philadelphia boxer's underdog shot at the championship: It doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you try your best, or "go the distance" in Rocky-speak. By the time ROCKY III came around, that message was knocked right out of the ring.

The racial aspect of the movie is worth discussing with older kids. This was right before the rap and hip-hop explosion that combined urban black-American anger with pride and empowerment in music and movie characterizations. Mr. T, in his African-warrior hairstyle and gold chains, could well be a gangsta rapper-hero -- except he's just a few years too early. Would Rocky III had been a popular hit if Clubber Lang were better drawn, not just white America's worst nightmare of a hostile inner-city thug? In addition to Mr. T, Rocky III was a breakthrough for another star, the WWE idol Terry "Hulk" Hogan, playing a menacing but -- unlike Clubber -- secretly friendly wrestler with whom Rocky grapples in a silly charity match. This helped bring pro wrestling into the mainstream, which should indicate right there the overall level of the material.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the lesson in the original Rocky -- that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, as long as you "go the distance" -- compares with the more success-oriented mania in this sequel. Note how the Clubber Lang character is even acknowledged as a sort of up-and-coming contender, the way Rocky Balboa used to be, but unlike the Sylvester Stallone hero he's given barely any human qualities at all. Would this movie have been a box-office hit if he were a better-drawn character instead of just a trash-talking bully (one who also happens to look like white America's worst nightmare of a black ghetto thug)? You could also talk about the transformation of Apollo Creed from Rocky's nemesis to his friend and ally, and how that plays out in the final scene. Ask kids what they think happened next.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 28, 1982
DVD/Streaming release date:February 10, 2005
Cast:Mr. T, Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire
Director:Sylvester Stallone
Topics:Sports and martial arts, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:sports violence, trash talk

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Teen, 14 years old Written byTom Cruise Fan August 14, 2015

"Rocky III" movie review

I think "Rocky III" is seriously an underrated movie. It is my favorite "Rocky" sequel. It is a great sports movie. I like this movie more than "Rocky II" for sure. The movie was faster and better-paced. Also Sylvester Stallone was better. The theme song to this movie is absolutely phenomenal. "Eye of the Tiger" is one of my favorite songs of all time because it is very motivational. The song also fits in perfectly to the movie. Both are about taking chances and continuing on. The training montages are brilliant and surreal. I thought the movie was very good. I don't know why people hate it so much. I understand there are slow moments in this movie but other than that, I honestly do not have a problem with this movie. The cinematography, music, acting, writing, set decoration are all very good. I really liked "Rocky III". It is a great boxing movie.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

i love this movie

this is a great movie for kids of any age...
Teen, 14 years old Written byrebo344 December 22, 2015

Pity the fool, huh?

Rocky III is a good continuation to the series. Carl Weathers gave an outstanding performance this time around and Mr. T and Hulk Hogan were a great addition to the movie. The story may be the same, but it is a fun watch. Grade: B-. Three and a half stars. Rocky IV started to decrease the franchise, but Dolph Lundgren stole the whole movie and the training montage with Hearts On FIre is outstanding. Grade: C. Rocky V isn't as horrible as people say it is, but it's still the weakest one. At least the street fight was good. Grade: C-.
What other families should know
Too much violence