The first Rocky film is arguably the greatest sports film ever made. They say the best sports movie, and moments in sports in general, are when they become about more than the game. Rocky was certainly that. It was the story of a guy who just wants to go the distance with the champ, just to show he's good enough to be a contender. In the end, (38 year old spoiler alert), Rocky loses the fight. That didn't sit well with a lot of people. So, in Rocky II he wins the rematch with Apollo Creed. Then that did well so they made a third movie with Mr. T because...well...Mr. T. When it inevitably came time to make part IV, Sylvester Stallone tapped into the Reagan era zeitgeist to make a movie in which Rocky Balboa, a mamaluk from Philly, wins the Cold War.
At the beginning of Rocky IV, the Italian Stallion is the heavyweight champ of the world and is jacked beyond belief. In the vein of Cold War cooperation, the filthy commies of the U.S.S.R bring over their champ Ivan Drago, played brilliantly by Dolph Lungren. Along with his minder, played by Brigitte Lielsen, he represents the latest in technological training methods where as Rocky just punches meat in a fridge. During an exhibition match Ivan kills Rocky's former foe and now friend Apollo Creed. "If he dies...he dies" Ivan chillingly tells Rocky. But what Ivan really wants is the heavyweight belt and he has to go through Rocky to get it. But REALLY it's about godless communism vs. American democracy. Rocky trains in the snow while Ivan is hooked up to a lot of machines. "I will crush you", Ivan tells Rocky. But, of course, Rocky beats him and brings down the Soviet Union. Yo.
Rocky IV is an absurd film but fun. I was a kid during the 80's and Rocky IV was part of a series of jingoistic films that showed Americans as jacked up heroes battling evil commies. Stallone is a pretty good writer but a lousy director. The acting is overwrought and the action feels forced. Still, if you want to feel proud to be an American then look no further than Rocky IV.