Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV

Rocky Battles Ivan the Terrible

So we've had Rocky fight Apollo Creed twice and also Clubber Lang where else could the "Rocky" movie series go, well lets take on the Russians. That is very much what "Rocky IV" is all about, Rocky verses Ivan Drago a Russian opponent and at the same time doing his bit for world peace. Sounds a little daft and to be honest "Rocky IV" is as daft and contrived as any of the "Rocky" movies but it is surprisingly entertaining with all those elements classic elements such as the big fight scene, the training scenes and so on.

Having helped Rocky (Sylvester Stallone - Escape to Victory) win his title back from Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) re-enters the ring in a proposed exhibition bout with Russian champion Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren - Cover Up). But the exhibition match goes wrong leading Rocky to blame himself when Apollo dies. To avenge him, Rocky heads off to Russia to take on Drago with the help of Creed's friend and trainer, Duke (Tony Burton). But it's not just the cold weather which gives Rocky a frosty reception as the Russian boxing fans are less than welcoming.

Dolph Lundgren as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV

I'll be frank and although "Rocky IV" sees our iconic hero taking on Ivan Drago the Russian fighting machine in a foreign country in revenge for the death of Apollo Creed it is a slim disguise for what is just another formulaic "Rocky" movie. Which basically means is we get the less than subtle build up featuring the showman like fight between Apollo and Ivan Drago, the shocking death, the heart break and emotional issues, training montages to a thumping soundtrack, that obligatory romantic scene and then the big predictable fight scene. There is not a shred of anything remarkably different about "Rocky IV" than any of the earlier "Rocky" movies. Is that a complaint well I suppose not, the "Rocky" formula works well and everyone likes those choreographed training scenes but then there is part of me which wishes that they had found something really different to base the movie around, some new elements to focus upon rather than manufacturing another under dog story.

As for the Russian element to the movie, well it's sort of cliche with the Russians entering America with a chip on their shoulders over the way people think about them, we get the shady men in the background who manipulate everything and in the most corniest move yet we get Rocky himself managing to contribute to world peace during the final big climax as the Russians warm to him. It's all unbelievable and almost funny, if it was not for the fight scene between Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed which although not hard hitting stop it from being humorous, it would have caused a lot more laughs.

What is nice is that after "Rocky III" which was all about from riches to rags so to speak "Rocky IV" is a much simpler movie and has the glorious showman element to it with the stunning entrance from Apollo Creed accompanied by James Brown for his big fight. It's gloriously cheesy, almost tacky in its complete over the topness but is a great showpiece. In the same way the training scenes with Rocky going for old style rock lifting and snowy mountain running compared to Drago's high tech gym regime being another glorious show piece.

What is for sure is Stallone looked up for this movie; he is seriously ripped with a physique which is all rippling muscle. Aside from the physique there is little else to say, Stallone delivers the character in a very similar way to what we have seen before and although "Rocky IV" doesn't call for a lot of real dramatic acting Stallone does he best in those few emotional scenes, such as the funeral and the heated press conference. The same can be said for the rest of the regulars, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young all carry on delivering performances which we are use to when it comes to these "Rocky" movies.

As for the Russians well that's less than good, Dolph Lundgren certainly looks like a Russian giant alongside Stallone who he pretty much dwarfs, but the role basically calls for him to be strong and silent with very few moments of dialogue, which maybe is a good thing. Then there is Brigitte Nielsen as Drago's wife, who would later go on to marry Sylvester Stallone, delivering what can only be classed as an over the top performance. It's one of those elements of "Rocky IV" which causes laughs when it shouldn't.

What this all boils down to is that "Rocky IV" is simply a "Rocky" movie through and through. The storyline about fighting the Russians is a thin disguise for what is an entertaining but predictable romp through the various set pieces, those familiar scenes which we have become accustomed to. We get the training, the romantic element and the big fight all when you expect them. It is slightly disappointing that there was nothing really new, but then it's an effective movie which delivers for the most what "Rocky" fans want and expect.

Tags: Boxing Movies