Saturday, 16 January 2010

Rocky III

Lowdown: Rocky, the undisputed boxing champ, finally has something to lose.
1982's Rocky 3 (or Rocky III the way it would like to be called) set something of a precedent for me: It was the first movie event I remember attending. By movie event I am talking about a film people went to see because of the hype surrounding it rather than it being a good film; and indeed, Rocky III has had so much hype around it at the time you just had to go and watch it or risk marginalization. Another interesting point about me and Rocky III is that I went to see it together with a class mate and neighbor of mine (Eli, in case you know him) at Ramat Gan's Oasis cinema. That meant two things: that us eleven year olds had to walk all the way to that cinema on our own, and that us eleven year olds went to the cinema on our own in the first place. You don't see many kids that age going to the cinema completely unattended anymore, but back then it was natural. Who said we keep on progressing the right way?
So Sylvester Stallone's Rocky III is a film with a bit of history attached. Surprisingly, it also has a plot, and that one starts with a typical Rocky montage from the end of Rocky II. For the record, in the first Rocky we had our low life hero lose his title bid in a rather gallant manner; in the second he has himself a rematch with his nemesis Apollo and he wins. Now, in the third, we learn that Rocky has established himself as world champ, has grown affluent, and has a loving family to boot. In short, he has something to lose, which makes him vulnerable to those with nothing to lose: people like the bad ass character portrayed by the then new to the world of cinema Mr T (who later grew on to become the A Team's famous B. A. Burekas). Will Rocky survive the challenge? Well, in order to do so he will have to do two things: befriend a former rival and regain his now lost eye of the tiger, his killer instinct that got cast out and replaced by affluence. And in order for us to see whether Rocky can do it we have to survive a very mediocre film with lots of silly montage scenes.
Indeed, Rocky III is a very bad film, especially by today's standards. The boxing scenes are very unrealistic, the entire plot structure is pure cliche, and the acting is pretty bad (Notably Stallone's in the lead role). As far as meaning is concerned, the film is a tribute to old style streetwise values, the type of things most of us would sneer at (but Stallone still sees as worthwhile promoting in his rather boring recent sequel to the Rocky series, called simply Rocky Balboa - probably because even he had lost the sequel count by now).
So is there some good about Rocky III? Sure. For a start, it's a rather short film so the torment is not too long. And second, Survivor's hit title song, Eye of the Tiger, maybe a song we laugh at in nostalgia nowadays, but it's a damn good song. And right there is the key to understanding Rocky III's charm: it's the nostalgia and the fact the film is so silly it's funny. How else can you react to the sight of a supposedly tough Stallone wearing a tank top? It's strange to see what used to pass for a movie event thirty years ago.
Worst scene: Rocky and his wife Adrian have themselves a polite debate, only that in their school a constructive debate means outshouting the other. Is this meant to be an example for the workings of the average bogan?
Overall: 2 stars out of 5, most of which are earned through nostalgia.

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