Rocky IV (1985)

rocky4_1985_poster
Rocky IV (1985)
  • Time: 91 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sport
  • Director: Sylvester Stallone
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Carl Weathers, Dolph Lundgren, Talia Shire, Burt Young

Storyline:

Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Balboa accompanies his friend Apollo Creed, who will be in a match against Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer who has been scientifically trained, using high tech equipment. When Drago kills Apollo in the match, Rocky blames himself for Apollo’s death, and promises to get revenge on Drago in the ring, in the name of Apollo and the United States. Against the wishes of his wife Adrian, Rocky is off to the USSR to take on Drago, and hires Apollo’s former manager Duke to help him prepare for the fight. While Drago enhances his amazing punching power using high-tech equipment, Rocky toughens up under the guidance of Duke in a compound in the frozen Soviet countryside, with his mind set on destroying Drago.

One review

  • It’s interesting how fate works. Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard someone tries to move on from his or her current state, just can’t cut a break. A few people may believe that it is a calling of higher purpose. Something of which an individual cannot or try to escape. After three prior entrees, it feels as if Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) can’t find a way to unbind himself from his boxing roots. There were some words thrown around in Rocky II (1979) and the seed was finally planted in Rocky III (1982) after losing Mickey. Once Clubber Lang was defeated, it seemed as if Rocky was decisively taking a step down from his lucrative pastime or so he thought.

    Enter Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren in his first starring role), the heavy weight boxing champion of Soviet Russia. A man of few words whose height towers among many and has a penetrating stare. Believing that his opponent should only be Balboa, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) steps in first to face Drago. Sadly, Creed underestimates Drago and dies in an exhibition match. Looking to avenge his long time friend, Rocky decides to take the rematch to mother Russia himself. And right when Balboa thought he was about done! This installment again retains a number of key elements that help made the original such a hit but just as well misses in areas too. Once again Stallone is credited as writer/director of which this time keeps most of the direction focused this time. Unlike Rocky III (1982) which focused on the glam of fame, this chapter returns to what made Rocky likable and that’s his family, friends and how he interacts with others.

    Although the run time is shorter than the predecessors are, the chemistry between all the characters felt more equal than Rocky III (1982). Burt Young as Paulie still has his funny lines and Talia Shire as Adrian shows her concern for the people she cares about. Audiences even get to see Rocky interact with his son this time! For Carl Weathers, as his last appearance in the series is great to watch too. There is one specific scene where Balboa addresses Creed about him fighting Drago and whether it is worth it. The words exchanged feel meaningful and put the situation into the right perspective. Some may think otherwise though because Lundgren’s character has very little to say. However, when looking at Drago from the perspective of which he grew up in, it’s not like his training real gave him a reason to say much. He was trained to win and winning was all he knew. However, this does not excuse these other particularly questionable areas in the film.

    An example of this are two montage scenes that are supposed to be throwbacks to the past films but it’s done in such a random order than it doesn’t quite work. With that, the scenes feel like filler, making viewers feel like they’re beginning to waste their time. Another thing that doesn’t make much sense is Creed’s motivation to fight Ivan Drago. Didn’t Creed remember what happened to Balboa when he was so eager to fight Clubber Lang from the previous entry? When you make haste without thinking or preparing, serious consequences may come your way. Creed knows this, so why did he not remember it? The whole USA vs USSR backdrop makes sense but again, why didn’t Creed prepare properly for the match? His decision was rash and it cost him dearly. Wouldn’t it have been more effective (emotionally) if Rocky and Creed prepared and then Creed lost? Wouldn’t that be more heartbreaking? This is something Stallone could’ve included in his script but (obviously) wasn’t used.

    Another aspect that is sorely lacking is the musical score. This time the music was composed by Vince DiCola (best known for The Transformers: The Movie (1986) score). This was also DiCola’s first entry in the film score profession. To say that it’s bad is unnecessary. In fact, DiCola actually uses the Rocky and training montage theme in his score; the problem is he doesn’t utilize it to its fullest capacity. Instead, the themes are hinted at only briefly. Other than that, the rest of the tunes belong to synth orchestration, which doesn’t really fit the Rocky series except for the occasional pop song. With Bill Conti’s signature piano, string and horn absent there aren’t enough instruments for the audience to get attached to per scene. Even the emotional scenes aren’t as effective as they could’ve been because the score doesn’t match. However, the film isn’t devoid of entertainment. The fight scenes are still lively. Lundgren and Stallone really throw the punches in this entry. Plus cinematography by again Bill Butler worked at its job. Once you do a certain job for so long you end not having to change much. Butler has maintained a consistent look in the Rocky series and he hasn’t disappointed yet.

    This entry is fairly equal to Rocky III (1982), it just has problems in other areas. The writing and direction is a tad better which focuses more on its characters than it does fame and glory and Dolph Lundgren’s debut is nothing short of good entertainment. However, it still suffers from unnecessary scenes, a contradictory motivation for Creed and a disappointing musical score, which unfortunately lacked the Bill Conti touch.

    Points Earned –> 6:10

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