Picks and Pans Review: Rocky Iii

UPDATED 05/31/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/31/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

Sure it's corny. So you expected King Lear? Any foot-dragging about seeing yet a third chapter in the life of boxer Rocky Balboa dissolves as soon as that driving Bill Conti theme starts pumping under the credits and Sylvester Stallone, flexing his muscles as actor-writer-director, yells his first "Yo, Adrian." What's new? Not much. In Rocky, in 1976, Stallone lost the title. In 1979's Rocky II, he won it. In Rocky III, he works to keep it. With designer suits to match his hairstyle and newly trim physique, Rocky has made a good life for wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and Rocky Jr. (Ian Fried), but brother-in-law Burt Young and trainer Burgess Meredith don't like what fame has done to him. When faced with new rival Clubber Lang, played with fire-breathing brio by former Muhammad Ali bodyguard Mr. T, Rocky asks former opponent Carl Weathers to teach him street fighting. The training scenes, filmed in downtown L.A., are fun, and a sequence with Stallone being wrecked by a pro wrestler named Hulk "Thunderlips" Hogan is a howl. Rocky is the role Stallone was born to play (it may be the only one), but he has joined underdog heroics and humor so unerringly that criticism is kayoed. We're clearly a long way from Rocky Takes a Dive. (PG)

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