Among the very few things in life you can truly count on, it is comforting to know that winter turns to spring, taxes must be paid, and Rocky always wins. Knowing that going in, you may now proceed to Rocky IV.
After being bludgeoned by Mr T it’s a miracle that Rocky Balboa can get through the streets of Philadelphia without a wheelchair. But, a right hook pays off.
Rocky now has a magnificent mansion, sports cars, a happy nine-year marriage, a great son, and a fresh, contemporary haircut to go with his designer wardrobe. I know it’s hard to swallow, but Rocky has turned into a class act.
Along comes Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a 260-pound undefeated amateur heavyweight champion from the Soviet Union called the “Siberian Express” to shake Rocky out of the magnolias.
First, there’s an exhibition match at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas between Drago and Rocky’s best friend, fellow boxer Apollo Creed (pictured below right).
The match begins as a joke, with sets, costumes and chorus girls. Hell, there’s even a splashy rock and roll production number by James Brown.
Tragedy results when Drago kills Creed in the ring.
Now it’s up to good-hearted, loyal Rocky to avenge his buddy’s murder by taking on the human jackhammer himself-in Moscow, on Christmas Day!
There’s so little left to say about Rocky that Sylvester Stallone, who serves as star, writer, and director, has even resorted to padding Rocky with film clips from the three previous Rocky movies.
The film is mercifully only 90 minutes long, but it isn’t until the final half-hour that we get to the big fight.
The Russian is taller, bigger, heavier, and stronger. The entire country is cheering for his success. Poor Rocky is all alone, with his prayers and integrity. Who wouldn’t root for the underdog?
Before the end of the first round, we know Stallone has taken us with the smoothness of a professional con artist.
He’s not only written in a comparison between the championship match and the story of David and Goliath, but he’s made it obvious that the fight symbolises the whole political future of Russia vs. the free world.
When Rocky takes on the Russian tank, it’s hero vs. villain, man vs. robot, American patriotism vs. Communist tyranny.
It’s incredibly hard not to like Rocky or to like Stallone in the role. It’s the one character he knows and plays better than any other.
Rocky IV is manipulative, it holds no surprises and reveals nothing new, but a legion of Rocky fans grew up with the big lug, and it’s now quite pleasant to grow old with him, too.
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