Rocky III
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FAQ Contents

A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Rocky III can be found here.

Three years after winning the title as the World Heavyweight Champion, boxer Rocky 'The Italian Stallion' Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is riding high, having won each of his 10 matches since winning the championship. Just as he is about to retire his title undefeated, Rocky is challenged by brutal 'wrecking machine' Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Offended by Lang's taunts towards him and sexual innuendos toward his wife Adrian (Talia Shire), Rocky decides to accept Lang's challenge. Just before the match begins, however, Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) (Rocky's trainer) suffers a heart attack, and a distraught Rocky loses the match. Distressed by his defeat, Rocky accepts an offer from his old nemesis Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) to become his trainer and challenges Lang to a rematch.

Yes. Like Rocky (1976) and Rocky II (1979) before it, Rocky III was written and directed by Stallone. Rocky III was followed by Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990), and Rocky Balboa (2006).

(1) The Ring, December 1976 ("Creed-Balboa Souvenir Issue"), (2) Tempo ("The Italian Stallion Issue"), (3) L'Uomo Vogue, (4) People's Weekly ("Rocky's Revenge Issue"), and (5) Newsweek, August 1977 ("The Champion Issue").

Creed was also offended by the arrogant Clubber Lang. Commentator at Lang and Rocky's premiere fight, Creed tried to shake hands with both contestants, but Lang refused to shake Creed's hand, calling him a 'has been' and telling him to 'get out of my face!' Creed was visibly disgusted by Lang's behavior.

The original Rocky begins on November 25, 1975 and runs until January 1, 1976. Rocky II picks up directly after the title fight from Rocky (ie. January 1, 1976) and runs until November 25, 1976. On three separate occasions in Rocky III do characters make reference to "the last three years" (Paulie (Burt Young), Mick, and Rocky), which would seem to place the film in late 1979/early 1980. This is corroborated by Rocky's age in the film. In the original Rocky, he is 30 (meaning he was born in 1945). In Rocky II, he turned 31. If Rocky III takes place three years after Rocky II, Rocky should be 34, which is exactly what age he is (as pointed out on TV). All of this serves to illustrate that the film is set in 1979/1980.

It is not quite that simple however. Problems begin to arise in relation to Mick's death. His headstone records his date of death as August 15, 1981, placing the events in Rocky III almost five years after those in Rocky II (and thus making Rocky 36), leading many fans to accept this 1981 date as the 'correct' date. However, the headstone throws up further complications. In Rocky (set in 1975) Mick says that he is 76 years old, meaning he was born in either 1899 or 1900. If Rocky III occurs five years after Rocky II, and six years after Rocky, Mick should be 82 when he dies. However, his headstone lists his date of birth as 1905, meaning he was 76 when he died; the same age he was in a film set six years previously. To complicate things even further, the fight between Rocky and Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan), which takes place prior to Mick's death, is advertised as occurring in 1982! And if all of that wasn't bad enough, in Rocky V, Mick's death is stated to have occurred in 1982, not 1981.

In the end, fans are really left with one of two choices: the 1979 date (based on the "three years" comments and Rocky's age) or the 1981 date (based on Mick's headstone - dismissing the Thunderlips and Rocky V 1982 dates as goofs). The numerous inconsistencies on Mick's headstone would seem to undermine the validity of using the inscription to date the film, whereas the 1979 date is confirmed on four separate occasions in the film; once by Paulie, once by Rocky, once by Mick, and once by the TV newscaster when he says that Rocky is 34. As such, the most likely answer to the question of when the film is set is 1979/1980.

Rocky (1976): November 25, 1975 - January 1, 1976

Rocky II (1979): January 1, 1976 - November 25, 1976

Rocky III (1982): early-1979 - early-1980

In Rocky, Paulie was constantly badgering Rocky to try to get him a job as a debt collector for money lender Gazzo (Joe Spinell). In Rocky II, Rocky has seemingly done so, as Paulie is shown at the dock's trying to collect on a loan. At the start of Rocky III however, Paulie is apparently unemployed. Why he is not working for Gazzo, however, is never explained.

No. In Rocky IV, Apollo says it has been just over five years since he was in the ring. Rocky IV is set roughly nine years after Rocky II, meaning he continued to fight to some degree for four years after losing the title. As such, when he commentates on the first Rocky/Clubber Lang fight, and when he trains Rocky for the rematch, he is still an active competitor.

In Rocky II, it is revealed that during the world title fight in Rocky, Rocky's right eye was badly damaged. The injury is enough to make him quit professional boxing, and after he decides to face Apollo again, it is enough to make Mick think that there is no way he can win. In Rocky III however, the injury is never mentioned directly, and there is no specific explanation given for how a possibly career-ending injury has seemingly disappeared. However, there is, perhaps, a subtle suggestion that Rocky had surgery to help his injury. In the beginning of the movie, Paulie says to him, "You fixed your face up real nice", while saying he never did anything for him. This could refer to Rocky getting plastic surgery or maybe some kind of corrective surgery that could have healed, or partially healed, his eye injury.

A number of factors contribute to Rocky's shock defeat by newcomer Clubber Lang. Minutes before the fight, Lang tried to initiate a brawl with Rocky in the backstage area. During the fracas which resulted, Lang pushed Mick up against a metal stairway. We already knew from the Thunderlips fight that Mick was having problems with his heart, and when he hits the stairwell, he begins to have a heart attack. Taking him into the locker room, Adrian stays with Mick as a preoccupied Rocky goes out to face the near-psychotic Lang. This preoccupation is a major factor in his defeat. Part way through the second round as Clubber is beating Rocky senselessly, Rocky eventually lets his guard down, allowing Clubber to give the final blow which Lang took a few seconds to prepare for--Rocky could easily have stopped the punch or started hitting again. As Rocky is laying on the ground he is lying in a comfortable position, just waiting for the count to be over with and not even trying to get up; only after the bell rings does Rocky get a tiny boost of energy, all to see Mickey.

Another contributing factor is that he simply wasn't prepared for Lang's ferocity and determination. If you note just prior to the fight, as the referee is going over the rules, Lang is staring Rocky down, and Rocky keeps glancing away, unable to hold eye contact with his opponent, suggesting his lack of confidence and concentration (in their rematch, Rocky never looks away from Lang as the referee is explaining the rules). Finally, Rocky hadn't trained properly for the fight. His training regime is contrasted with Lang's in a series of montages, and whilst Lang pushes himself to breaking point with strenuous and demanding workouts, Rocky continues to take it easy and live the good life, using every available opportunity to get in the spotlight. He even has public training sessions where he is constantly being interrupted by autograph hunters, much to Mick's disgust and allowing women to kiss him, upsetting Adrian.

How does the movie end?

Clad in Apollo's own red, white, and blue shorts, Rocky dominates round one, going after Lang with a level of speed and skill that surprises even Lang. In the second round, Rocky switches tactics and allows Lang to dominate, even inviting him to knock him with another blow. By round three, Lang is clearly angry and tired, and Rocky easily dodges most of Lang's jabs. Landing blow after blow on the outfoxed Lang, Rocky succeeds in a knockout and earns back his title as Heavyweight Champion of the World. Later, Rocky and Apollo return to the gym where Apollo reveals the terms of the 'favor' that Rocky owes him...a private sparring match between the two of them. In the final scene, they dance around the ring together while Rocky good-naturedly taunts Apollo about being old, and Apollo assures Rocky that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. They throw the first blows simultaneously, and the screen freezes.

This question is difficult to answer because the complete set of sanctioning rules are not identified. In many boxing commission jurisdictions, the minimum weight to be classified as a heavyweight is indeed 200 pounds, however this is not the rule across the board, and it is entirely possible that the rules may have been different in this jurisdiction. Additionally, perhaps the sanctioning commission made a special exception for Rocky due to the magnitude of the fight and Rocky's significance in the boxing world.

Apart from a remastered 5.1 DTS soundtrack, neither the R1 US DVD, released by MGM Home Entertainment in 2005, nor the R2 UK DVD released by MGM Home Entertainment (UK) in 2005, contain any special features. It is also available in the R1 US Rocky: The Complete Saga and the R2 UK Rocky: The Heavyweight Collection.

Yes it is. It is available as an individual release in both the US and the UK. It is also available in a newly remastered Heavyweight Collection boxset released in 2014 in both a US edition and a UK edition. None of the editions carry any special features.

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