After the thematic void of Rocky II, Stallone matches the first film in soul, if not heart, and escapes Avildsen's shadow, making his statement as both director and writer. Punctuated with delirious currents of montage, soft focus, flashback and slow-motion, Rocky III presents men (Rocky; Apollo; Clubber; Paulie) adrift in an intangible world where one anothers' validation is the only means of discovering self-worth.
This is a fun third movie that changes Rocky into a superhero action hero with intense, unrealistic fight sequences and Mr. T looking like a comic book villain. The title song "Eye of the Tiger" and music video type montages help a lot. The new plot direction that Apollo Creed takes in the film series as a unintentional man-love interest for Rocky is also fun to see - and there is a death that will make fans sad.
It's a little cartoony but man is it entertaining. The opening 20 minutes are a perfectly respectable continuation of the first two films, but once Thunderlips comes in it enters a totally different dimension. I wouldn't say it "jumps the shark," just becomes a different kind of movie.