Saturday, November 21, 2015

Movie Review: "Rocky IV" (1985)

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Movie"Rocky IV"
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Year: 1985
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

When Soviet amateur boxing champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgrin) comes to the U.S. to challenge Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) steps in to take the challenge. When Apollo winds up on the losing end of a deadly beating, Rocky decides to take up the fight against the seemingly indestructible Russian in his home country.  

"Rocky IV" brings Cold War politics and ideals into the boxing ring in a battle between America and the then Soviet Union being represented by two boxers...well, really three boxers when you think of it. Of course, on the American side, we have Rocky Balboa, again played by writer and director Sylvester Stallone, who is now a man of opulent wealth living in a mansion in Los Angeles. He buys his brother-in-law Paulie, played again by Burt Young, a robot servant for his birthday, and his wife Adrian, played by Talia Shire, an expensive watch as an early anniversary present. He is a self-made man and a capitalist's wet dream who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to get into the place he now finds himself. The other representative of America is Apollo Creed, Rocky's two-time opponent, played by Carl Weathers, who is the epitome of American extravagance and excess as he puts on an over-the-top display when he walks out to face his Russian opponent (for all you MMA fans out there, very reminiscent of the PRIDE heydays with lights, sparkles, dancing, music, and showboating). Here, Apollo comes down a riser from the ceiling in front of a giant bull as he and showgirls dance to James Brown "Living in America," complete with James Brown actually there. Their opponent from the Soviet Union looks like he was built by the government in a lab. Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, unlike Rocky's previous opponents, is a cold and stoic man, standing at a towering 6'5" and weighing 261 pounds of solid muscle. He can deliver a punch with about triple the force of the average heavyweight boxer. The man is a destroyer, and it becomes clear early on that he is Rocky's toughest opponent ever. This really helps in selling the conflict and the challenge of this film, especially after ****SPOILER ALERT**** Drago beats Apollo to death. ****END SPOILER ALERT**** Unlike opponent Clubber Lang from the previous "Rocky" film, Drago actually feels like a tough test and we watch Rocky do all he can to prepare for the literal battle of his life. If Drago will have anything to do with it, his machine-like power will crush Rocky in an instant.

This movie without Drago is essentially "Rocky III" all over over again. There is no denying this film, and really this series of films at this point, have become formulaic as can be, complete with a "bummer" remix of the movie's theme song and a reflective montage; it also has an inspirational training montage as Rocky prepares to face his opponent where he crushes weights and does sit-ups and pulls heavy objects through the snow. Come to think of it, as we sit here writing this, have these movies been almost entirely comprised of montages???? Yes, but does that mean we like them any less? Hell no, and the fact that we buy Ivan Drago as such a dangerous foe really adds to that excitement factor. The Cold War politics involved in making "Rocky IV" fit right in with Stallone's previous works and sets it apart just a hare from the last movie, not to mention a robotic Lundgren, who is really quite excellent at being stiff and bionic, and a kick ass, outstanding 80's style soundtrack for the ages. This one is definitely better than the last one.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 40%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
To see our review of "Rocky," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky II," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky III," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky V," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky Balboa," click here.

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