I still remember my friend Ollie coming into the school I attended and telling me at breakneck speed that he had seen Rocky IV the day before at the local cinema, everything that happened in it and how great it was. Word of mouth is the best kind of ‘hype’ for a movie. ‘I need to see this film!’ I thought and so Rocky IV was the first Rocky film I saw at the cinema (the other three had been viewed on home video).
It had been years since I had last seen this film, so a rewatch was well overdue.
Ivan Drago is a Russian boxer who arrives in the US with his team in tow, one of which is his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), a swimmer in her native Russia. In the demonstrations of his strength, it is suggested that this is down to Drago being Russian and superior because of this. Apollo Creed sees this and decides to take on Drago. What could go wrong?
Theres so much to love about Rocky IV- Creed’s entrance involving James Brown and showgirls a-plenty before his exhibition match with Drago (this was recreated years later by real-life boxer Tyson Fury), the soundtrack that spawned even more iconic songs (Living In America, Burning Heart), the sequences showing Drago’s strength (loving the 80’s graphics that show his punching power), the training scenes which have Drago embracing the latest technology whilst Rocky uses more primitive methods, the pop video montage whilst shows Rocky driving along whilst remembering events from the first three films many of them involving his friend Creed…
The robot is irritating as is Rocky’s son but these are minor points. In Stallone’s Director’s Cut, the robot would disappear (hooray) amongst other alterations.
This is Cold War Rocky with a huge showdown being not just Rocky vs Drago but America vs Russia. And it’s fantastic because of this angle. A fourth film in any other franchise may show signs of fatigue and repetition but Rocky IV shows the exact opposite. It feels fresh, vital and for a lot of fans of the series, it is the best entry.
4 stars out of 5