Rocky 3 is the most polished, ridiculously entertaining and unpredictable Rocky sequel made. It makes this list because of an unparallel soundtrack, a great story, and an actual decent script.
After Rocky 2 stumbled along for a painful hour and a half, before Rocky defeats Apollo Creed in a thrilling final half hour of the movie, Rocky 3 starts off with a bang with one of the great movie montages ever assembled and never lets up. I don't want to spoil things, but Rocky's whole world comes crashing out after he loses the title to Mike Tyson-errr, Mr. T. With the help of his former nemesis Apollo Creed, he regains the "eye of the tiger", finds his soul, and regains the title.
The movie tells the story perfectly, Stallone doesn't play Rocky with the same punchy stupidity as in Rocky 2 and it pays off. Stallone used Rocky to illustrate his own feelings of losing himself as he became a huge star and it permeates the whole movie.
What am I doing? Trying to add some real meaning to a movie where Rocky takes on a pro wrestler named "Thunderlips"? Where Apollo and Rocky share the most awkward beach hug in movie history? Where Rocky and Adrian have an argument so horribly written and poorly acted it single handedly murdered this films rating for acting?
Some may argue that Rocky IV was the best sequel. But I cannot put IV ahead of III when Rocky flies to Russia on Christmas Day, for no money by the way and Paulie complains that he's going to miss the Rose Bowl game?? That line has bothered me for years, the Rose Bowl is played on New Years day! Compare that with Rocky III, watch this whole thing without feeling envigorated and tempted to shadow box in a dingy gym and do wind sprints on the beach! It's just good, solid, entertainment.
Rant aside, here are the ratings.
Music: 5/5: The Rocky movies always had great music, "Eye of the Tiger" takes it to another level
Cinematography: 3: The movie is well shot enough, and abandons the sprawling look and deliberate pacing of the first two movies
Entertainment Value: 8/10: Few scenes in this movie aren't entertaining, and even when they are terrible, they are still entertaining!
Rewatchability Factor: 8/10: Of all the Rocky movies, this is the easiest to watch.
Acting: 5/10: Like I said earlier, the scene between Adrian and Rocky on the beach is just awful. "I'm afraid! You want to break me down! You want to hear me say it! I'm afraid! What are you putting me through Adrian" all said in Stallone's yell that sounds like a dog that overdosed on Benadryl yelping.
Great Scenes: 8/10: Thunderlips, the opening scene, the training montage, "Mick! Mick! Mick!!!", Mr. T. hitting on Adrian at Rocky's retirement ceremony, the final fight, the last scene, I could go on all day.