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Directed and written by Sylvester Stallone. Produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Release date: November 27, 1985.
1985 was right in the middle of the Cold War, and movies were not immune from discussing the subject. Rocky IV, therefore, pit its hero, Rocky Balboa, against a Soviet, Ivan Drago, in a fight for the international superiority. It's a good idea, although the execution wasn't exactly the greatest. Still, it continued the trend of the Rocky franchise making a ton of money, and it remained the highest grossing sports movie for more than two decades.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone): A two-time World Heavyweight Champion who is married to Adrian and is now best friends with his former rival, Apollo Creed.
Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire): Rocky's love interest, wife, and mother of his child.
Paulie Pennino (Burt Young): Adrian's brother and Rocky's friend.
Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren): The best boxer out of the Soviet Union who challenges Rocky in an attempt to prove Soviet superiority.
Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers): The former World Heavyweight Champion, he is now Rocky's best friend.
In the Soviet Union, a boxer named Ivan Drago has been making huge waves. He is being called the best in the world. Apollo Creed, a patriot at heart and still believing that he's a great boxer, challenges Drago to a match. Rocky Balboa, now best friends with Creed, agrees to train him. The match takes place, and Drago decimates Creed. Creed refuses to let his team throw in the towel, which proves to be a fatal decision. One large punch knocks Creed to the ground and kills him. Drago shows no remorse, angering Rocky to the point where he agrees to an unsanctioned match against Drago that will take place in the Soviet Union.
Their training and dietary regimens are completely different. Rocky trains with low-tech methods, while Drago has a team of doctors and trainers, who give him steroids and the greatest equipment available. Rocky has good old-fashioned determination, bolstered by an appearance from Adrian, who flies to the Soviet Union to show her support.
The match eventually takes place, which goes the full 15 rounds and ends with Rocky knocking out Drago. He gives a speech about how everyone should respect each of them, which the Soviet home crowd applauds. If only an actual war could be settled so easily.
Is It Any Good?
It's impossible to make Rocky IV be anything other than a predictable and insufferably patriotic movie. It's an American movie in which a Cold War metaphor is being played out in a boxing ring; you know exactly who's going to win. Even with Drago being made out to be the threat that he is - and killing Creed certainly makes him credible - you know Rocky's walking away from this one victorious. Add in a lot of silliness and cheese - more than usual - and Rocky IV becomes the first film in the series that isn't actually worth seeing. It's still a ways away from being downright bad, but if you stopped at III and skipped a couple of entries, nobody's going to be too upset.