I love Stallone and the Rocky movies, except Rocky V and now I come to think of it I wasn’t that keen on Rocky Balboa and don’t even talk about Creed. So, basically I like Rocky 1 – 4.
My favourite in the series is Rocky IV. It’s probably the most stupid out of all the films and it is literally full to the brim with montage after montage. You can criticise this movie all you want, but it’s pure 1980s nonsense at its best that I can keep going back to again and again and I love it.
What’s It About?
Made in 1985, Rocky IV is a US sports drama film, which is written, directed, and starring Sylvester Stallone. In the film, the Soviet Union and their top boxer make an entrance into professional boxing with their best athlete Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) who initially wants to take on World champion Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) Rocky’s best friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) decides to fight him instead, but is fatally beaten in the ring. Enraged by this, Rocky decides to fight Drago in the Soviet Union to avenge his friend and defend the honour of his country.
The Exploding Gloves
At the start of the movie we are treated to the small recap of what happened at the end of Rocky III with Survivor’s familiar theme “Eye of the Tiger” playing in the background. Whilst this is happening we are cutting back and forth to American and Soviet boxing gloves that eventually slam into each other and explode. Woah!
Yes, I did just say ‘robot?’ in a film about boxing? Yes, no lie! What birthday present do you give your ungrateful, slob of a brother-in-law who has no friends and who is going to bankrupt you by the beginning of Rocky V? No, not a gift card for a euthanasia clinic or an uppercut to the face, but a giant 1980s house robot. “Happy Birthday Paulie”.
This amazing high-tech robot is the ultimate companion for a lonely guy. It can bring you beer and cake and wish you happy birthday. But don’t ask it to go upstairs because it’s really going to struggle with those wheels and let’s just hope it doesn’t have a vacuum function, you know what I mean!
Yes, it doesn’t make sense that there is a robot in Rocky IV, but there is actually a really nice sweet story behind it, which we will save for another day!
We don’t need to tell you why Drago is so cool, He’s got many nicknames aka the ‘Death from Above’ aka ‘The Siberian Express’. He’s a man mountain, almost robotic in his manner and he’s so freakin’ hard he’s got the same music as Unicron the Planet Destroyer from Transformers: The Animated Movie. He only says about three lines in the whole film and those include “You will lose”, “If he dies, he dies” and “I must break you!” He’s a stone-cold soviet fighting machine!
James Brown & Apollo
Apollo is one hell of a cocky bastard and his ring entrance is a sight to behold. Featuring the ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown bellowing out a rendition of “Living in America”, and Apollo dancing along all clad in Uncle Sam outfit complete with top hat. It’s a great scene in the film and really gets us in the mood for what may happen next and has inspired the entrances of real-life boxers and wrestlers ever since.
It might be the reason as to why Apollo gets slaughtered here because that entrance is enough to tire out any fit and able person. We can’t help but notice though that it’s just another way of showing the world how ‘up their own ass’ the USA really is, with that good old “‘Merica, Fuck Yeah!” attitude.
We love Apollo, but we can’t help but notice that something bad is going to happen when he agrees to fight Drago so early in the film. With his ring entrance enough to make anyone want to punch his lights out, Drago doesn’t hold back on and shows no remorse when he’s dying at the end of the fight. Rocky waits at ringside sporting his Hugo Boss track suit for all to see fighting with his loyalty to Apollo who demanded that Rocky must not stop the fight under any circumstances. Either that or Rocky had a bet on for Drago to win by technical knock out!
The Ultimate Car Montage
Okay, so we are now three montages in and this one comes in after Apollo’s untimely death, Rocky decides to fight Drago without even telling his wife Adrian. So, when he gets home he is in the shit house because she is mighty pissed. They have an argument because Adrian fears for Rocky’s life and she screams at him “you can’t win”.
Rocky then decides to go for a drive in his Lamborghini and reminisce about his feuds and eventual friendship with Apollo over the years to the soundtrack of “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper. It’s one of the best montages of all time.
It’s a Revenge Story
So, basically we have learned it’s a revenge story and also it’s the old David versus Goliath scenario. Rocky is so pissed off he even agrees to fight in an unsanctioned fight in the Soviet Union for 15 rounds and on Christmas Day. That pay-per-view price is going to be pretty sky-high for the viewers back home.
They Train in the Soviet Union
Yes, another montage…. Not only is the fight in the USSR , but Rocky also requests they train in Krasnogorsk, Russia too, although he must have requested to train in a stereo-typical 1930s Russia. A place where it’s cold as f**k, and always snowing. People dress like peasants and live in wooden shacks and ride horse and carts. The best thing about this place is when Paulie falls in the snow.
Training Montage One
Our fifth montage in the film. We’ve only just arrived in Russia and Rocky is already getting down to the first training montage in the movie and he decides to go back to basics.
Instead of thinking I need all the help I can get with state of the art training facilities back in the USA, Rocky instead wants to train like technology doesn’t even exist. He does this by chopping wood, cutting down trees and lugging boulders about. While we also take a look at how Drago is training and he’s using all kind of technology and steroid enhancements, the commie bastard! The montage ends with Adrian turning up to support her husband.
Training Montage Two
This is my favourite part in the film and the last montage has only just finished, but Stallone is more prepared this time around and he’s grown a kick-ass beard.
Remember it’s gonna take a lot of training to defeat a guy who would eventually go on to play He-Man, so we are treated to more training, which really is pretty much the same as before, but throw in exercise featuring Rocky pushing up a horse cart full of his family and friends this time.
By now Rocky is so pumped up he manages to outrun that pesky Russian officials car and climbs a huge mountain. Eventually when Rocky arrives at the top he shouts “Drago… Drago”, but I don’t think Drago is listening! All this is happening to a wonderful score of “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty & Beaver Brown.
The Final Fight
We finally reach the final boxing match and we’re kind of thinking how are they going to cram 15-rounds into the last 20 minutes? Another montage of course! Apparently to make the fighting scenes between Rocky and Drago seem authentic the two actors are really hitting each other and unfortunately for Stallone he ended up in A & E after taking too many punches from Lundgren. That’s commitment for you.
The home crowd are all baiting for Rocky’s blood, but eventually they swing and start cheering him on, which in reality would be bullshit! In case you missed it, is that supposed to be Gorbachev cheering on Drago?
Overall, I’s All About the Cold War
After Rocky has humiliated and defeated Drago we are gifted with Rocky’s “If I can change, you can change … everybody can change!” speech, which ultimately ends the Cold War and the world is at peace again! The American flag is brought out again to shove in our faces, because “USA, USA USA!”
We are then treated to another black and white montage on the end credits re-showing photos from scenes of the film just in case we’d already forgot what the hell had just gone on!
Kapow! This film is a total knockout.
- Who doesn’t love a montage?
- Great cast, who cares about the dumb plot anyway?
- Killer soundtrack.
- It’s the 80s, so it rocks!