Rocky IV

Mark Rocky IV

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Total votes: 1
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Chevalier Bayard
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Rocky IV

Postby Chevalier Bayard » Sat 01 Jan, 2011 17:53

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The Lost Forum already owns dedicated topics with reviews for both Rocky and Rocky Balboa, the first and last movies of Rocky's saga. But as I re-watched it during these Christmas holidays, I realized we were clearly missing a review about Rocky IV.

Despite a scenario which could fit on a stamp (in order to avenge his friend, Rocky takes back the gloves to fight Soviets' champion) and certainly the most annoying robot ever seen on screen, Rocky IV does manage to be catchy enough to make you come back to it. First reason is that Rocky IV is really close to a giant music video. As I've already read it somewhere else, it could have been titled Rocky: The Musical. The music nearly never stops. For the worst, like in the mourning scene where Rocky drives his Lamborghini like crazy, not paying much attention to the road. But for the best too, especially from the moment they arrive in Russia and, of course in the famous training montage divided in two music video separated by Adrian's arrival in Siberia. Seriously, who can watch Rocky climbing that snowy summit on "Hearts on Fire" and not feel ready to go and kick Drago's ass as well? I do watch this scene once in a while when comes an important meeting where I have to be combative! ^^


Going on with the music, the great James Brown himself makes a remarkable cameo in the movie. He welcomes Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago for their first fight with a show “à l'américaine” which leads us to the reason why I'm quite sure Rocky IV will be watched in History lessons about 1980s and the Cold War, if it's not done already.

Stallone also directed both Rambo II and Rambo III: two very enjoyable actionners where his character, John Rambo, gets his count of Soviet victims but Rocky IV goes a step beyond. It gives a pretty accurate snapshot of the general states of mind at the end in the 1980s. At this time U.S.A. and the West block were doing great despite small crisis. The 1980s were a time of great innovation and of a general improvement in the lives for most westerners. Money was then subject to a real idolatry in the West and few were daring to stand against that idol (I advise you to watch Oliver Stone's Wall Street to explore more of this subject and I do take note to write a review as well for this great movie in the not to distant future). Following this, the first fight previously mentioned shows then a very optimistic America, actually too optimistic.

Sure about his victory, Apollo Creed makes his entrance dressed as a cabaret version of Uncle Sam. As he explained it earlier to Rocky, he clearly gets that this "exhibition fight" against Drago is more than a simple fight. "It's THEM against US". Cause yes! If there is a cloud in all this sky of money and happiness in these years, it is clearly the Cold War. We know today that it was mostly propaganda but at the time people had very few verified information about what was going on in the U.S.S.R. block and the annual military parades reminded people that the next day, the Cold War could cease to stay Cold and open WW3. At the time, magazines were calculating the stupidest figure about how many times both U.S.A. or U.S.S.R. could destroy the planet due to their respective nuclear arsenal. Though, confidence was growing among westerners, a confidence which was not really justified from the few information people had. An over-confidenced shown by Apollo Creed who never takes the real measure of the challenge he gets himself involved in.

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Presenting himself totally untrained on the ring, he discovers the hard way that he has underestimated his opponent. It is indeed a lethal mistake for him, and a personal motivation for Rocky Balboa to get involved in a conflict he did seem much interested in before.

Which is funny then is to see how the two fighters are presented. Ivan Drago and his entourage summarize well the idea westerners had about the soviets. Ivan Drago is shown as a real machine, the product of a genetic selection made by highly skilled soviet scientists? During the training montage, we see that Drago's training is highly "computerized". Chemistry is also helping; which is frankly quite hypocritical from Stallone at that time but that's not our subject.

On the other hand Rocky Balboa will succeed by getting back to the roots. He does not fight for money which is quite astonishing for the time as the reporters reaction shows it. As annoying he is, the maid robot we see in Balboas' house shows that Rocky have numerous resources, financial and technological. If the robot is damned advanced for 1985, it still is in 2011 (Happy New Year by the way! ;))! Though considering technology more like a distraction source than a possible improvement, Rocky chose to train in deserted Siberia.

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It reinforces the idea of the human American against the Russian machine; an idea which evolves during the final fight which starts as a mirror of the first one between Creed and Drago. This time it's Rocky who has to bare a show celebrating his opponent and to deal with a very hostile crowd. The political echo of the fight is even reinforced with the presence of the Politburo members while most of the crowd is wearing Soviet uniforms. No doubt that this fight is the fight which matters!

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Like we all expect, after a tough first round for Rocky where he hardly manages to even reach Drago due to their build difference, Balboa finally succeed to it him bad. The funny thing at that point is that the human/machine relation reverses. On one hand Balboa's trainer insists on the fact that now that he has hit him and made him bleed, Rocky must realize Drago is not a machine but a simple human who can be hurt. On the other hand Drago himself, finally knowing doubt, tells his trainer about Rocky: "He's not human. He's a machine". Getting back to the roots, Balboa has become the war machine required to defeat the auto-proclaimed "Siberian Bull".

Hopefully, ending the movie with a pacifist speech and a final personal message to his son, Rocky gets back to his human status and as Rocky IV ends on "Hearts on Fire" score, we can leave the movie full of its incredible Manichean energy!

No wonder why Rocky IV is the movie who has encountered most success for the franchise. If it can't be compared to the first and last movies regarding its story but you can hardly resist it as it is clearly one of the best trainer you might be looking for before a "fight"!

5/6 for me.
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