Seriously, has there been a bigger Us vs Them story ever? One where it almost seems to be what the entire story is based on? One side vs another all embodied by two men, one man on each side in a boxing ring? Even the opening of the movie has two big boxing gloved stone fists, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other Russian crashing into each other.
Heres the lodown on this movie made during the height of 80's coldwar. Russia has petitioned to have it's athletes compete in American sporting events and one of it's top athletes, Ivan Drago is introduced as an ametuer boxer who wants to fight Rocky in an exhibition match. Apollo, disgusted by the Russians and their claims wants to come out of retirement and battle the Russian as a way he can make his country proud and wants Rocky to help him train. The match doesn't go well and Apollo dies from his injuries in the bout. Rocky decides that he must avenge his friends death and in doing so, vacates his Belt and travels to Russia to do battle with Drago.
This is (obviously) the third sequel in the Rocky film library and it's also one of the corniest movies ever. Rocky's sweetness and sincerity from the previous films is gone and replaced with what is more then likely a movie put together by it's many montages and music sequences. Whats left isn't much of a movie at all. A few moments of dialogue with the Rocky roster, Paulie, Duke, Apollo, Adrian. Any of their dialogue could be written down on one sheet of loose leaf paper, it's amazing in that short space what they say still can stick with you though, too bad there wasn't more.
Rocky's opponents have always been grounded in some kind of reality. Apollo was a showboating loudmouth of an athelete and Clubber Lang (Mr. T for those out there who always hear that Rocky in fact fought Mr. T in Rocky III) had an even bigger mouth and a big hunger to knock Rocky's block off and get his belt. Ivan Drago is our foe here and he is more like a villains muscle man in another action movie. Drago is a silent and taciturn blonde Russian man who lets his wife and trainers do his speaking. That and his big muscles that have been built by his computer run training. Yes, computers (and a little help from his friend Mr. Steroids) have helped this man train and during a news interview we learn that this man can throw a punch so hard that if he was a Rock and Sockem robot, the other robots head would probably explode on impact instead of popping up on a stick. Makes me wonder how Rocky survives as long as he does in the final bout.
Why was such a silly idea put in a Rocky movie? Sylvester Stallone who made this movie must have wanted to go the Star Trek route by making each preceding opponent try and be bigger and bigger then the other. Speaking of silly ideas, did you know that Paulie has a robot friend in this movie? Just say'in.
So what takes up the rest of this movie? A whole lot of patriotism and good cheer to destroy the evil commies. At the exhibition match in Vega's the whole crowd has little American flags and theres even a model American biplane fighting the Red Baron over the ring and James Brown belts out "Liv'in in America." Later on at a press conference, even Paulie gets praise from reporters for his anti communism remarks. Paulie gets praise people. Rocky is even wrapped in an American flag at one point. Just thinking of the levels of patriotism here reminds me of stores post 9/11 selling American Flag bumper stickers and t shirts everywhere you went.
Rocky IV isn't completely a waste of time and it is entertaining to watch. Who doesn't want to see Rocky at extreme odds overcome his opponent? That has been a theme of Rocky is seeing the little guy win. But if you were hoping for a Rocky movie like it's predecessors or even the Rocky Balboa movie which came later, your going to be sorely disappointed. Enjoy it for what it's worth but when you blow away the foam, there isn't much left. Better have Paulies robot run and fetch you another movie to fill the void.PAULIE HAS A PET ROBOT PEOPLE.
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