Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Produced by||Robert Chartoff
|Written by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Music by||Vince DiCola
|Editing by||John W. Wheeler
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Entertainment Co. (USA)
United International Pictures (Non-USA)
|Release date(s)||November 27, 1985|
|Running time||90 min.|
|Preceded by||Rocky III|
|Followed by||Rocky V|
Rocky IV is a 1985 American film written by, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, the fourth and most financially successful entry in the Rocky franchise. In the film, Rocky Balboa plans to retire from boxing after regaining his title from Clubber Lang in Rocky III. An unknown amateur boxer from the Soviet Union, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), makes a bid to enter the U.S. boxing ranks. After an exhibition match with Apollo Creed goes tragically wrong, Rocky must step in and challenge the Russian boxer himself.
The story opens with "Eye of the Tiger" during the flashback of Rocky's rematch against Clubber Lang, where Rocky defeated Lang with a KO in the third round to regain his title. The picture then fades to Apollo Creed who is seen presenting his favor to Rocky shortly after the Lang fight for helping him train. Meanwhile, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a highly intimidating 6 foot 5 inch, 261 pound (18.6 stone) Soviet boxer, arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), an Olympic gold medal swimmer, his manager, Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and a team of trainers headed by grizzled Russian coach Igor Rimsky (George Rogan), and the Cuban Manuel Vega (James "Cannonball" Green) to challenge the best American fighters. His manager takes great pride in showing off the hi-tech equipment which aids in improving Drago's performance. As a demonstration, Drago throws punches at a machine that measures the hit's strength. Motivated by patriotism and an innate desire to prove himself, Apollo is desperate to step back into the ring in an exhibition bout against Drago. A press conference is held to publicise the bout. It begins on affable terms but the mood quickly changes when Apollo is accused of being a "has been" by Drago's manager, who suggests Creed shouldn't even be in the same ring with Drago. Livid with such a statement, Apollo loses his temper and tells Drago they'll "finish this in the ring" before abruptly leaving the conference. Drago appears completely unfazed by this.
Rocky has reservations, but comes round to supporting his friend by helping to train him for the fight. Apollo sets the match between himself and Drago in Las Vegas. With Rocky in his corner, Apollo flamboyantly makes an even bigger show than when he first fought Rocky - including fireworks and a patriotic theme complete with a performance by James Brown, dancing girls and Apollo himself dancing around. Starting the fight in his trademark manner, Drago manages to catch him off-guard quickly after Apollo briefly enjoyed the upper hand, not giving Drago time to punch until late in the first round, and then he mercilessly batters Apollo with a series of devastating punches that quickly turns the tables. Apollo is in dire straits as the first round is over. The commentators and audience are visibly shaken by what they've seen, all except Ludmilla, who - smoking a cigarette - appears to be relishing it. Rocky and his trainer Duke are pleading with him to stop the fight. Apollo refuses to do so, and tells Rocky not to stop the fight no matter what. The second round starts just as the first ended. Rocky attempts to throw in the towel but despite Duke's begging, Rocky honors Apollo's wish. It turns out to be a tragic decision, as Drago connects with a devastating hook that ultimately kills the former champion. Drago displays no sense of remorse, commenting: if he dies .... he dies.
Devastated by the death of Apollo Creed, Rocky comes to the decision he must avenge his death by agreeing to fight Drago in his home country, on Christmas Day. Adrian pleads with him not to as she feels he can't possibly win. Supported by Apollo's manager Duke and his brother-in-law Paulie, he flies to the Soviet Union to train. Unlike Drago, who is attached to electrodes, is constantly monitored by computers, and works out with ultra hi-tech equipment (as well as being injected with what are implied to be anabolic steroids), Rocky trains by carrying logs, chopping down trees, lifting huge weights on the ends of chains, running through the deep snow, and pulling a sleigh containing Duke and Paulie. When Adrian shows up unexpectedly to give him her unconditional support, Rocky's training becomes more focused and energised than ever before. After intense preparation for both fighters, the two men finally meet in the ring.
Much like Apollo did in the previous fight, the Soviets introduce Drago with an elaborate, patriotic ceremony that puts the attending audience squarely on the side of Drago, leaving Rocky to be fiercely booed. In contrast to his fight with Apollo, Drago immediately goes on the offensive, repeatedly pounding Rocky, knocking him 15 feet across the ring on one occasion, and casually shrugging off his punches. After a pulverizing first round, with Drago easily winning, Rocky comes back toward the end of the second and lands a shot that cuts Drago just below his eye. While Drago is visibly shaken by the reminder of his own mortality, Balboa is fired up, and defiantly stands up to Drago, pummeling him until, after the bell rings numerous times, Balboa is visibly pulled off his opponent. Drago punches Rocky in revenge after putting him in a headlock, and Balboa lifts up and slams Drago to the ground, their managers splitting up the fight. The commentators then said it was like a street fight. 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".
At this point, the fight becomes a fierce battle of wills between the two boxers. Drago's confidence drops round after round due to Rocky's seemingly limitless endurance, allowing Rocky to get in under his guard and pound him relentlessly. By the fourteenth round, the crowd has been won over by Rocky's determination and is cheering him on. Koloff, fearing retribution from the Soviet Premier, goes over to Drago and berates his performance, fiercely urging him to win and shoving his head. Drago's response is to pick up Koloff by the throat with a single hand, and proclaim that he only fights for himself.
In the 15th and final round of the fight, Rocky and Drago trade punch after punch. Eventually, Balboa manages to overcome Drago and knock him out, to the shock of the Soviet Premier (who strongly resembles the then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev). Victorious, Rocky is swarmed as the crowd floods the ring, lifting Rocky onto their shoulders and draping him in the American flag. A bloody and battered Rocky gives a victory speech, acknowledging the initial and mutual disdain between himself and the once hostile crowd, how they've come to respect and admire each other during the course of the fight, and how everybody can "change" (it has been speculated this speech was a precursor of glasnost). The Soviet Premier stands and passionately applauds Rocky and his aides follow suit, as they have no option but to also applaud Rocky for fear of backlash. Rocky ends his speech by wishing his son a Merry Christmas, and throws his arms into the air in victory as the crowd applauds.
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 and his breathing to become labored. 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. Somewhat ironically, Stallone seemed oblivious to the fact that Lundgren was in fact a real life world kick boxing champion.
Additionally, Stallone claimed that Lundgren nearly forced Carl Weathers to quit in the middle of filming the Apollo versus Drago exhibition fight. In one take for the Creed-Drago fight scene, Lundgren tossed Weathers into the corner of the boxing ring. Weathers retaliated by throwing an authentic punch at Lundgren's face. Lundgren reportedly threw a right hook which left Weathers unconscious for several minutes. Upon regaining consciousness, Weathers shouted profanities at Lundgren while leaving the ring and announcing that he was quitting the movie and calling his agent. 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, while Lundgren had to be forced into toning down his aggressiveness.
Sportscaster Stu Nahan makes his fourth appearance in the series as commentator for the Apollo/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. Although the character was mainly featured in "Rocky II ". Stallone's then-wife, Brigitte Nielsen, appeared as Drago's wife, Ludmilla.
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.
The soundtrack for the movie included "Living in America" by James Brown; the film's music was composed by Vince DiCola (who also composed the soundtrack for The Transformers: The Movie that same year), and also included songs by John Cafferty (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" is often falsely stated as being featured in the film, no doubt due to its similarity to DiCola's score. In actuality, the song wasn't released until 1986.
DiCola replaced Bill Conti as the film's composer. Conti, who was too busy with the first two Karate Kid films at the time, would return for Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. Rocky IV is the only film in the series not to feature original music by Conti. However, it does features arrangements of themes composed by Conti from the previous film in the series such as "The Final Bell".
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.
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 as the theme for The Karate Kid Part II.
When compared to the other Rocky installments, despite mixed reviews from critics, Rocky IV is the most successful in terms of non-adjusted box office gross, and the highest grossing Rocky film. The fans came to accept this entry as a guilty pleasure and it has since gained a cult following. However, Dolph Lundgren did receive acclaim for his performance as Ivan Drago. He won the Marshall Trophy for Best Actor at the Napierville Cinema Festival. Rocky IV also won Germany's Golden Screen Award.
These figures only reflect movie theater ticket sales in the United States. The most profitable of the films by far was the original Rocky, which only spent a production budget of US$700,000 and was also one of the best reviewed.
Rocky IV made $175 million outside of the U.S., grossing an overall $300 million worldwide, the most out of any Rocky film. Considered a milestone in the capabilities of action cinema, Rocky IV is the most financially successful sports film of all-time.
This is the only Rocky film in which Rocky doesn't run up or appear on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, known as the Rocky Steps. Paulie's Robot, an item 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 voice was the company's CEO Robert Doornick. In his otherwise caustic review of the movie, Roger Ebert surmises the robot is an android of some type, complete with artificial intelligence.
The animated TV series Family Guy references Rocky IV on numerous occasions. In the episode Brian Goes Back to College, Brian Griffin undergoes a training regimen in a parody of the film, with Brian even going so far as yelling Drago's name, as Rocky does in the film. In the episode Movin' Out (Brian's Song), the robot given to Paulie on his birthday makes an appearance. In Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, Luke's training is interspersed with cuts to Drago's training from the film.
Rocky IV is the fourth and most successful movie, in terms of box office gross, of the Rocky franchise. Rocky Balboa (played again by Sylvester Stallone), has said he plans to retire from boxing after recovering his title from Clubber Lang in Rocky III. A new sensation from the Soviet Union, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), however, begins to emerge as a top contender.
Ok, you've hurt him, now he's nervous, it hurt!! you see Rocky, he's not a machine!! he's a man!