title: ROCKY III
year: 1982
cast: Sylvester Stallone, Taila Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Tony Burton, Frank Stallone, Stu Nahan
writer/director: Sylvester Stallone
rating: ****

Taking away the dated and often preposterous factors, including an over-the-top battle against Hulk Hogan that makes us believe professional wrestling isn't scripted, and the casting of eighties icon Mr. T as the mega-villain rival Clubber Lange (who's performance isn't bad, but the character is blatantly one-dimensional), this, the third outing in the ROCKY series, is a terrific ride. The first two films were seemingly-realistic studio-driven-indies while this is the big budget mainstream peak of the franchise: for better or worse, it's all here. The opening credit sequence (after two back-to-back montages), as Burt Young's sloppy and desperate (and often comic-relief-providing) "Paulie" wanders the streets in a drunken stupor, we're reminded of the street-savvy original. And during both of Rocky's training sessions... the first where he's not taking things seriously (an inside-satire of the franchise's corporate megalomania) before going up against his formidable opponent - and then, after getting knocked-out and losing his beloved "Mickey", teaming with former rival/new trainer Apollo Creed in urban downtown Los Angeles - there's a genuine base delivering the goods to near-perfection. Just turn off and have fun.

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