Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky III is great for many reason, but mostly for Mr. T.
Rocky III (1982) is a powerhouse of a movie, although maybe not as culturally or cinematically important as the first two in the franchise it’s maybe the first truly iconic Rocky movie. The Rocky that’s remembered in the popular imagination. It’s one of the first movies of that glorious decade to really shape the genre of action movies to come. It’s full of style with another top quality script and direction, once again written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.
The Eye of the Tiger
The movie has one of the most impressive opening sequences in all of action movies, a sequence that introduced us to one of the greatest pop songs of all time, The Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor. The cast’s performances are of the highest standard and the family saga element of the franchise is played brilliantly, especially the heart-breaking performance of Burgess Meredith.
The cast was further enhanced with that special brand of 80s Machismo by an appearance from the legend Hulk Hogan himself. Rocky III is a movie about the perils of success and the dangers of forgetting where you have come from as well as themes of rivalry, friendship and equality as well as fantastic action sequences.
Many parts of the internet are dedicated to discussing this but here at the Ultimate Action Movie Club there is a much more noble task at hand and that’s to highlight the brilliance of the one, the only, Mr. T.
UAMC Loves Mr. T
For people in the generation of the golden age of action movies it’s almost impossible to believe there was a time before Mr. T. One of the world’s first real multimedia stars came from humble beginnings. Having distinguished himself in the U.S Army, worked as a Bouncer and bodyguard for the rich and famous including boxing personalities such as Ali, Leon Spinks and Joe Frasier.
Mr. T first came to Stallone’s attention in the T.V show Games People Play where T appeared on a segment as America’s toughest bouncer. After a long casting process in which Morgan Freeman was considered for the role of Clubber Lang Mr. T was cast. Originally a role with just a few lines, Lang’s part was expanded on and it’s just as well as it was because Mr. T’s performance as Lang did not only make him one of the most memorable antagonists in the franchise but also in the history of action films.
The Pugilist Vs The Brutalist
One of the most compelling elements of Rocky III is the contrast between the supporting characters of the film. Apollo Creed who, in the Ali style, was portrayed in the franchise as the gentleman pugilist. Creed’s character arc developed from him being Balboa’s most challenging opponent to his friend and coach.
Creed is clearly drawn from a school of boxing which is all about discipline, honour and sportsmanship whereas Mr. T’s Performance as Clubber Lang comes from a very different place. It’s easy to see in Clubber Lang the inspiration of boxers such as Sonny Liston, Larry Holmes and George Foreman. Fighters who came across as heels if you will, aloof and aggressive. Fighters who had superior confidence and were so media aware that they knew that actions in the ring spoke louder than interviews.
The Ultimate Boxing Movie
The boxers that make up the DNA of Lang’s character were brawlers who could take a hit and then give it back tenfold. OK – maybe we hadn’t quite reached the era of the dirty fighter but the performance of Lang and the real life figures that inspired his creation gave brutal performances that would shape the future of boxing.
One of the defining legacies of the the Rocky films is that they are a commentary on the world of boxing at the time the movies were made.
Mr. T’s performance is absolutely outstanding, he comes across as a real credible threat and is right up there in the highest ranks of legendary movie villains. Every second he is on screen is memorable, thrilling and electric.
The Rocky 3 Legacy
Mr. T’s career in the public eye absolutely skyrocketed after Rocky III, “I pity the fool” is, to this day, a quote that goes down in action movie history. (And was never actually used in the A-Team) Mr. T would become beloved by children the world over for his no nonsense attitude, aspirational moral code and huge presence on screen. Rocky III may have cemented the legend of the Rocky franchise but it gave birth to the myth that is Mr. T.
Where does Rocky 3 stack up on your ultimate franchise list? Let us know in the comments!