Rocky IV

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For the soundtrack to the movie, see Rocky IV (soundtrack).
Rocky IV
Rocky IV.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Talia Shire
Burt Young
Carl Weathers
Tony Burton
Brigitte Nielsen
Dolph Lundgren
Music by Vince DiCola
Themes by
Bill Conti
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited by John W. Wheeler
Don Zimmerman
Production
company
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Release dates
  • November 27, 1985 (1985-11-27)
Running time
90 min
Country United States
Language English
Russian
Budget $28 million[1]
Box office $300,473,716

Rocky IV is a 1985 American sports film written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also starred in the film. The film co-stars Dolph Lundgren, Burt Young, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Tony Burton, Brigitte Nielsen, and Michael Pataki. It is the fourth and most financially successful entry in the Rocky film series.[2]

In the film, the Soviet Union and their top boxer make an entrance into professional boxing with their best athlete Ivan Drago who initially wants to take on World Champion Rocky Balboa. His best friend Apollo Creed decides to fight him instead, but is killed in the ring. Enraged by this, Rocky decides to fight Drago in Russia to avenge his friend and defend the honor of his country.

Critical reception was mixed, but the film earned $300 million at the box office. This film marked Carl Weathers' final appearance in the series. The film's success led to a fifth entry released on November 16, 1990.

Plot[edit]

In 1985, Ivan Drago (Lundgren), an immensely muscular 6-foot 5, 261-pound Soviet boxer, arrives in the United States with his wife Ludmilla (Nielsen), and a team of trainers from the USSR and Cuba. His manager, Nicolai Koloff (Pataki), takes every opportunity to promote Drago's athleticism as a hallmark of Soviet superiority. Motivated by patriotism and an innate desire to prove himself, Apollo Creed (Weathers) challenges Drago to an exhibition bout. Rocky (Stallone) has reservations, but agrees to train Apollo despite his misgivings about the fight. He asks Apollo whether the fight is against the Russian, or "you against you".

During a press conference regarding the match, hostility is created between Apollo and Drago's respective camps. The exhibition takes place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Apollo enters the ring, wearing his old Uncle Sam outfit, in an over-the-top patriotic entrance with James Brown performing "Living in America" complete with showgirls. The bout starts tamely with Apollo landing several punches that have no effect on the Russian. It soon turns serious though, as Drago starts clobbering hard. Apollo is worn by the end of the first round. Rocky and Apollo's trainer Duke (Burton) plead with him to give up, but Apollo refuses to do so, and tells Rocky not to stop the fight. The second round doesn't go any better, and despite Duke begging Rocky to throw in the towel, he reluctantly honors Apollo's wish. This turns out to have fatal consequences as Drago lands a final punch on Apollo that knocks him to the ground dying. In the immediate aftermath, Drago displays no sense of remorse commenting to the assembled media: "If he dies... he dies."

Incensed by Drago's cold indifference and feeling a deep sense of guilt, Rocky decides to avenge Apollo's death by agreeing to fight Drago in Russia on Christmas Day in an unsanctioned 15-round bout. He flies to the USSR without Adrian, setting up his training base in Krasnogourbinsk with only Duke and brother-in-law Paulie (Young) to accompany him. To prepare for the fight, Drago uses very high-tech equipment and a team of trainers and doctors monitoring his every movement. Rocky, on the other hand, throws heavy logs, chops down trees, pulls an overloaded snow sleigh, jogs in heavy snow and treacherous icy conditions and climbs a mountain. Adrian (Shire) shows up unexpectedly to give Rocky her support after initially refusing to travel to Russia because of her doubts on his fighting chances. Her arrival increases Rocky's focus and enhances his training.

Drago is introduced with an elaborate, patriotic ceremony that puts the Russian crowd squarely on Drago's side, as Rocky is booed by all in attendance. In contrast to his fight with Apollo, Drago immediately goes on the offensive and Rocky takes a fierce pounding. Rocky comes back toward the end of the second and silences the Russian crowd by landing a strong right hook that cuts Drago just below his left eye. While Drago is visibly shaken, Rocky is fired up and assaults Drago, which continues even after the bell rings. While Duke and Paulie cheer Rocky for his heroism, they remind him that Drago is not a machine, but a man. Ironically, Drago comments that Rocky "is not human, he is like a piece of iron" with his own corner reprimanding him for being "weak" in comparison to the "small American."

The two boxers continue to hit each other over the next dozen rounds, with Rocky holding his ground despite Drago's powerful punches. His resilience rallies the previously hostile Soviet crowd to his side, which unsettles Drago to the point that he shoves Koloff off the ring for berating his performance. Rocky finally takes out Drago in the 15th and last round, winning by knockout to the shock of the Soviet Politburo members watching the fight. A bloody and battered Rocky gives a victory speech, acknowledging the mutual disdain at first between himself and the crowd. He says it is like the wider disdain between Russians and Americans, but that he and the crowd have come to respect and admire each other during the course of the fight. Rocky adds that the crowd has seen "two guys killin' each other, but I guess that's better than 20 million". Rocky finally declares, "If I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change!" The Soviet General Secretary stands and passionately applauds Rocky, and his aides follow suit. Rocky ends his speech by wishing his son a Merry Christmas, and throws his arms into the air in victory as the crowd applauds on Christmas Day.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Wyoming doubled for the frozen expanse of the Soviet Union. The small farm where Rocky lived and trained was in Jackson Hole, and the Grand Teton National Park was used for filming many of the outdoor sequences in Russia. The PNE Agrodome at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, served as the location of Rocky's Soviet bout.

Sylvester Stallone has stated that the original punching scenes filmed between him and Dolph Lundgren in the first portion of the fight are completely authentic. Stallone wanted to capture a realistic scene and Lundgren agreed that they would engage in legitimate sparring. One particularly forceful Lundgren punch to Stallone's chest slammed his heart against his breastbone, causing the heart to swell. Stallone, suffering from labored breathing and a blood pressure over 200, was flown from the set in Canada to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica and was forced into intensive care for eight days. Stallone later commented that he believed Lundgren had the athletic ability and talent to fight in the professional heavyweight division of boxing.[3]

Additionally, Stallone claimed that Lundgren nearly forced Carl Weathers to quit in the middle of filming the Apollo-vs.-Drago "exhibition" fight. At one point in the filming of the scene, Lundgren tossed Weathers into the corner of the boxing ring. Weathers shouted profanities at Lundgren while leaving the ring and announcing that he was calling his agent and quitting the movie. Only after Stallone forced the two actors to reconcile did the movie continue. This event caused a four-day work stoppage while Weathers was talked back into the part and Lundgren agreed to tone down his aggressiveness.[3]

Rocky IV is one of the few sport movies that applies genuine sound effects from actual punches, bonafide training methods created by boxing consultants, and a bevy of other new special effects.[4] The film is recognized as being ahead of its time in its demonstration of groundbreaking high-tech sporting equipment, some of which was experimental and twenty years from public use.[5][6] In 2012, Olympians Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte noted that the training sequences in Rocky IV inspired them to use a cabin similar to what the resourceful Balboa utilized in the film.[7]

Casting[edit]

Sportscaster Stu Nahan makes his fourth appearance in the series as commentator for the Creed–Drago fight. Warner Wolf replaces Bill Baldwin, who died following filming for Rocky III, as co-commentator. For the fight between Rocky and Drago, commentators Barry Tompkins and Al Bandiero portray themselves as USA Network broadcasters.

Apollo Creed's wife Mary Anne (Sylvia Meals) made her third and final appearance in the series, the first being Rocky II, although the character was mainly featured in Rocky II. Stallone's then-wife, Brigitte Nielsen, appeared as Drago's wife, Ludmilla.

Paulie's robot, a character that through the years has enjoyed a cult following of its own, was created by the International Robotics Inc. in New York City. The robot's initial voice was that of the company's CEO Robert Doornick. The robot is identified by its engineers as "SICO" and is/was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and toured with James Brown in the 1980s.[8] The robot was written into the movie after it had been used to help treat Stallone's autistic son, Seargeoh.[9]

The Soviet premier in the sky box during the Rocky–Drago match strongly resembles contemporary Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Actor David Lloyd Austin later played Gorbachev in The Naked Gun and played Russian characters in other films.

Music[edit]

The film's soundtrack was composed by Vince DiCola. Rocky IV is the only film in the series not to feature original music by Bill Conti, who was replaced by DiCola; however, it does features arrangements of themes composed by Conti from previous films in the series, such as "The Final Bell". Conti, who was too busy with the first two Karate Kid films at the time, would return for Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. Conti's famous piece of music from the Rocky series, "Gonna Fly Now", does not appear at all in Rocky IV (the first time in the series this happened), though a few bars of it are incorporated into DiCola's training montage instrumental.

Songs from the movie included "Living in America" by James Brown, and also music by John Cafferty ("Hearts on Fire", featuring Vince DiCola), Survivor, Kenny Loggins, and Robert Tepper. Go West wrote "One Way Street" for the movie by request of Sylvester Stallone. (Europe's hit "The Final Countdown", written earlier in the decade by lead singer Joey Tempest, is often incorrectly stated as being featured in the film[citation needed]—no doubt due to its similarity to DiCola's "Training Montage." However, Europe's track was not released as a single until late 1986, after Rocky IV's release.)

According to singer Peter Cetera, he originally wrote his best-selling solo single "Glory of Love" as the end title for this film, but was passed over by United Artists, and instead used the theme for The Karate Kid Part II.[citation needed]

Novelization[edit]

A novelization was published by Ballantine Books in 1985. Sylvester Stallone was credited as the author.[10]

Reaction[edit]

Box office[edit]

Rocky IV made $127.8 million in United States and Canada and $300 million worldwide, the most of any Rocky film. It was the highest-grossing sports film of all time until 2009's The Blind Side which grossed $309 million (albeit unadjusted for inflation).

Stallone has been quoted as saying the enormous financial success and fan-following of Rocky IV once had him envisioning another Rocky movie devoted to Drago and his post-boxing life, with Balboa's storyline running parallel to Drago's. However, he noted the damage both boxers sustained in the fight made them "incapable of reason" and thus instead planned Rocky V as a showcase of the dangers of boxing.[11]

Critical response[edit]

The film received a 44% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, indicating mixed reviews; the critical consensus was, "This fourth entry in the Rocky series sticks to the usual David versus Goliath formula, with an added layer of Cold War-inspired anti-communism."[12]

Accolades[edit]

Dolph Lundgren received acclaim for his performance as Ivan Drago. He won the Marshall Trophy for Best Actor at the Napierville Cinema Festival.[13] Rocky IV also won Germany's Golden Screen Award.

The film won five Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone, along with Rambo: First Blood Part II), Worst Director (Stallone), Worst Supporting Actress (Brigitte Nielsen), Worst New Star (Nielsen, along with Red Sonja) and Worst Musical Score. It also received nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actress (Talia Shire), Worst Supporting Actor (Burt Young) and Worst Screenplay.[14]

Analysis[edit]

Scholars note that the film's strong yet formulaic structure emphasizes the power of the individual, embodied by Rocky, the prototypically American hero who is inventive, determined, and idealistic.[15] They contrast that with Ivan Drago's hyperbolic characterization as a representation of Russian power in the context of the latter part of the Cold War.[16][17] Writer/director Stallone highlights the nationalistic overtones of the Balboa–Drago fight throughout the film, such as when Drago's wife calls the United States an "antogonistic and violent government" that is filled with "threats of violence" to her husband. Drago's trainer comments that American society has become "pathetic and weak."[18] Drago represents the totalitarian regime, demonstrating his power when he topples an arrogant opponent (Creed).[19] Later on, the radio announcer says, "Ivan Drago is a man with an entire country in his corner."[20] Scholars note that Drago's ultimate defeat — and the Russian crowd's embrace of Rocky — represents a crumbling of the U.S.S.R.[21][19]

Rocky IV has also been interpreted as a commentary on the power struggle between technology and humans, illustrated by both Paulie's robot and the technology utilized by Drago's trainers.[22]

Litigation[edit]

The script development was the subject of a famous copyright lawsuit, Anderson v. Stallone.[23] Timothy Anderson developed a treatment for Rocky IV on spec; after the studio decided not to buy his treatment, he sued when the resulting movie script was similar to his treatment. The court held that Anderson had prepared an unauthorized derivative work of the characters Stallone had developed in Rocky I through III, and thus he couldn't enforce his unauthorized story extension against the owner of the character's copyrights.

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (November 29, 1985). "At the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved June 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Rocky Movies". Box Office Mojo. Box Office Mojo, LLC. Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  3. ^ a b "Stallone Interview With Ain't It Cool News". AICN. Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  4. ^ Crawford, G. (2008). "‘It's in the game’: sport fans, film and digital gaming". Sport in Society 11 (2–3): 130–145. doi:10.1080/17430430701823380. 
  5. ^ Von Hoff, D. "Rocky IV-Fight Medicine". Medical Grand Rounds presented at University of Texas Health Science Centre. 
  6. ^ Cantu, R. C. (1995). Boxing and Medicine. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. ISBN 0873227972. 
  7. ^ White, Duncan (28 July 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: US swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte go head to head in first heavywright battle". Telegraph. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Edwards, Phil. "The Rocky IV robot’s secret connection to autism treatment," Trivia Happy (Mar. 27, 2014).
  10. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/rocky-iv/oclc/12923839
  11. ^ Gates, P. (2010). "Acting His Age? The Resurrection of the 80s Action Heroes and their Aging Stars". Quarterly Review of Film and Video 27 (4): 276–289. doi:10.1080/10509200802371113. 
  12. ^ Rocky IV – Rotten Tomatoes
  13. ^ "Rocky IV: Award Wins and Nominations". IMDb.com. Retrieved September 3, 2010. 
  14. ^ Wilson, John (2002-01-02). "1985 Archive". Razzies.com. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  15. ^ LeSueur, S. C.; Rehberger, D. (1988). "Rocky IV, Rambo II, and the Place of the Individual in Modern American Society". Journal of American Culture 11 (2): 25–33. doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.1988.1102_25.x. 
  16. ^ Lee, Christina (2005). "Lock and Load(up): The Action Body in The Matrix". Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 19 (4): 560. doi:10.1080/10304310500322909. 
  17. ^ Lukynov, Fyodor (2005). "America as the Mirror of Russian Phobias". Social Research 72 (4): 859–872. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  18. ^ Munfa, M. (2003). "Yo America, let's beat those Commies: Pro-American Propaganda in Rocky IV". Living in the Digital World. 
  19. ^ a b Rollin, Roger B. (1989). "Rocky IV Meets La Grande Illusion: Pedagogy and Theory in Popular Culture Study". The Americanization of the Global Village: Essays in Comparative Popular Culture. Popular Press. ISBN 0879724692. 
  20. ^ Strada, Michael J.; Troper, Harold R. (1997). Friend Or Foe?: Russians in American Film and Foreign Policy, 1933-1991. Scarecrow Press. p. 157. ISBN 0810832453. 
  21. ^ Strada 1997, p. 158.
  22. ^ Rushing, J. H.; Frentz, T. S. (1989). "The Frankenstein myth in contemporary cinema". Critical Studies in Media 6 (1): 61–80. doi:10.1080/15295038909366731. 
  23. ^ Anderson v. Stallone, 11 USPQ2D 1161 (C.D. Cal. 1989)

External links[edit]