Rocky IV

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Rocky IV
Rocky IV.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written bySylvester Stallone
Starring
Music by
Cinematography Bill Butler
Edited byJohn W. Wheeler
Don Zimmerman
Production
company
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Release date
  • November 27, 1985 (1985-11-27)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Russian
Budget$28 million [1]
Box office$300.4 million

Rocky IV is a 1985 American sports drama film written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. [2] The film co-stars Dolph Lundgren, Burt Young, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Tony Burton, Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki. Rocky IV was the highest grossing sports movie for 24 years, before it was overtaken by The Blind Side . [3] It is the fourth and most financially successful entry in the Rocky film series. [4]

A sports film is a film genre that uses sport as the theme of the film. It is a production in which a sport, sporting event, athlete, or follower of sport are prominently featured, and which depend on sport to a significant degree for their plot motivation or resolution. Despite this, sport is ultimately rarely the central concern of such films and sport performs primarily an allegorical role. Furthermore, sports fans are not necessarily the target demographic in such movies, but sports fans tend to have a large following or respect for such movies.

In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.

Sylvester Stallone American actor, screenwriter, and film director

Sylvester Enzio Stallone is an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. He is well known for his Hollywood action roles, including boxer Rocky Balboa in the Rocky series (1976–2018), soldier John Rambo in the five Rambo films (1982–2019), mercenary Barney Ross in the three The Expendables films (2010–2014) and structural engineer Ray Breslin in the three Escape Plan films (2013–2019). He wrote or co-wrote most of the 16 films in the first three popular franchises and directed many of them.

Contents

In the film, the Soviet Union and its top boxer make an entrance into professional boxing with their best athlete Ivan Drago, who initially wants to take on World champion Rocky Balboa. Rocky's best friend Apollo Creed decides to fight him instead but is fatally beaten in the ring. Enraged, Rocky decides to fight Drago in the Soviet Union to avenge the death of his friend and defend the honor of his country.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.

Ivan Drago fictional Russian boxer from the film Rocky IV

Ivan Drago is a fictional character from the Rocky films. He first appeared in the 1985 film Rocky IV, in which he is Rocky Balboa's rival. He also appears in the 2018 film Creed II, in which he serves as the trainer to his son Viktor. He is portrayed by Dolph Lundgren. A poll of former heavyweight champions and prominent boxing writers ranked Drago as the third-best fighter in the Rocky film series.

Rocky Balboa Fictional character in the Rocky film series

Robert "Rocky" Balboa is the title character of the Rocky film series. The character was created by Sylvester Stallone, who also portrayed him in all eight Rocky films. Nicknamed The Italian Stallion, he is depicted as an everyman who started out by going the distance and overcoming obstacles that had occurred in his life and career as a professional boxer. While he is loosely based on Chuck Wepner, a one-time boxer who fought Muhammad Ali and lost on a TKO in the 15th round, the inspiration for the name, iconography and fighting style came from boxing legend Rocky Marciano.

Critical reception was mixed, but the film was a huge success at the box office, earning $300 million.This film marked Carl Weathers' final appearance in the series. Its success led to a fifth entry released on November 16, 1990. The events of this film serve as the backstory to the plot of Creed II , where Apollo Creed's son, Adonis, is challenged to fight Drago's son, Viktor.

<i>Rocky V</i> 1990 American film

Rocky V is a 1990 American sports drama film. It is the fifth film in the Rocky series, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, and co-starring Talia Shire, Stallone's real-life son Sage, and real-life boxer Tommy Morrison, with Morrison in the role of Tommy Gunn, a talented yet raw boxer. Sage played Rocky Balboa, Jr, whose relationship with his famous father is explored. After Stallone directed the second through fourth films in the series, Rocky V saw the return of John G. Avildsen, whose direction of Rocky won him an Academy Award for Best Director.

<i>Creed II</i> 2018 American boxing film directed by Steven Caple Jr.

Creed II is a 2018 American sports drama film directed by Steven Caple Jr., and written by Sylvester Stallone and Juel Taylor from a story by Sascha Penn and Cheo Hodari Coker. A sequel to Creed (2015) and the eighth installment in the Rocky film series, it stars Michael B. Jordan, Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu, Wood Harris, and Phylicia Rashad. Creed writer-director Ryan Coogler serves as an executive producer on the film. The film follows a fight over 33 years in the making, as Adonis Creed meets a new adversary in the ring: Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago, the powerful athlete who killed Adonis' father Apollo Creed.

Plot

Ivan Drago, a Soviet boxer, arrives in the United States with his wife, Ludmilla, a Soviet swimmer and a team of trainers from the Soviet Union and Cuba. His manager, Nicolai Koloff, 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 challenges Drago to an exhibition bout. Rocky has reservations, but agrees to train Apollo despite his misgivings about the match.

During a press conference regarding the match, hostility sparks between Apollo's and Drago's respective camps. The boxing exhibition takes place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. [5] Apollo enters the ring 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 are ineffective against Drago, but Drago suddenly retaliates with devastating effects. By the end of the first round, Rocky and Apollo's trainer, Duke, plead with him to give up, but a battered Apollo refuses to do so and tells Rocky to not stop the match "no matter what." Drago continues to pummel him in the second round and Duke begs Rocky to throw in the towel. Rocky honors Apollo’s wishes, which allows Drago to land one final punch on Apollo, killing him. In the aftermath, Drago displays no sense of contrition, commenting to the assembled media: "If he dies, he dies."

An exhibition fight is a contact sports non-profit event, usually a boxing fight in which participants fight, normally for three rounds. They may wear large gloves to minimize punch harm or impact on the combatants, headgear, and non-boxing related clothing. Many exhibition fights involve popular current or former world champions, and exhibition bouts are usually carried out for charity purposes or for the public's entertainment. Exhibition fights are usually not listed as having taken place on boxer's career records.

Ballys Las Vegas hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada

Bally's Las Vegas is a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada. It is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation. The hotel features 2,814 extra-sized guestrooms that are 450 sq ft (42 m2) or larger and over 175,000 sq ft (16,300 m2) of banquet and meeting space. The casino occupies 66,187 sq ft (6,149.0 m2). About 75% of the rooms are in the Resort Tower which had renovations completed in 2018. The remaining rooms are located in the Jubilee Tower, constructed in 1981.

Las Vegas City in Nevada, United States

Las Vegas, officially the City of Las Vegas and often known simply as Vegas, is the 28th-most populated city in the United States, the most populated city in the state of Nevada, and the county seat of Clark County. The city anchors the Las Vegas Valley metropolitan area and is the largest city within the greater Mojave Desert. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city, known primarily for its gambling, shopping, fine dining, entertainment, and nightlife. The Las Vegas Valley as a whole serves as the leading financial, commercial, and cultural center for Nevada.

Enraged by guilt and the Soviets' cold indifference, Rocky decides to challenge Drago himself. Drago's camp agrees to an unsanctioned 15-round fight in the Soviet Union on Christmas Day, an arrangement meant to protect Drago from the threats of violence he has been receiving in the U.S. Rocky travels to the Soviet Union without Adrian, setting up his training base in a remote cabin in Krasnogourbinsk with only Duke and brother-in-law Paulie to accompany him. Duke opens up to Rocky, stating that he actually raised Apollo and that his death felt like a father losing his son, and expresses his faith in Rocky that he will do what needs to be done and prevail. To prepare for the match, Drago uses high-tech equipment, steroid enhancement, and a team of trainers and doctors monitoring his every movement. Rocky, on the other hand, lifts and throws heavy logs, chops down trees, pulls an overloaded snow sleigh with Paulie atop, jogs through heavy snow under treacherous icy conditions, and climbs the largest icy mountain. Adrian arrives unexpectedly to give Rocky her support after initially refusing to travel to the Soviet Union, because of her worry that Rocky would be killed like Apollo.

Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast City in Moscow Oblast, Russia

Krasnogorsk is a city and the administrative center of Krasnogorsky District in Moscow Oblast, Russia, located on the Moskva River, adjacent to the northwestern boundary of Moscow. Population: 116,896 (2010 Census); 92,545 (2002 Census); 90,477 (1989 Census).

Before the match, Drago is introduced with an elaborate patriotic ceremony, inspired by Apollo Creed's intro. The home crowd is squarely on Drago's side and hostile to Rocky. In stark contrast to his match with Apollo, Drago immediately goes on the offensive. Rocky takes a fierce pounding, and is thrown and shoved across the ring in the first round, but comes back toward the end of the second round and lands a brutal right hook, cutting Drago's left eye and stunning both him and the crowd. This prompts Rocky to continue punching even after the bell rings. Duke encourages Rocky by reminding him that he just showed that Drago is a man and not a machine as he’s been made out to be. Drago ironically comments to his trainers that Rocky "is not human, he is like a piece of iron," after his trainers reprimand him for his performance against the "weak" American.

The two boxers continue their battle over the next dozen rounds, trading blows, with Rocky managing to continually hold his ground despite Drago's best efforts. His resilience and determination rallies the previously hostile Soviet crowd to his side, which unsettles Drago to the point that he picks Koloff up by the throat and throws him off the ring for berating his performance, declaring that he fights for only himself. In the final round, Rocky defeats Drago by driving him across the ring with vicious hooks to the midsection, then a series of blows to the head, with one final, tremendous punch dropping Drago to the canvas for a knockout, to the shock of the Soviet Politburo members watching the match.

Rocky gives a victory speech, acknowledging that the local crowd's disdain of him had turned to respect during the fight. He compares it to the animosity between the U.S. and the Soviets, and says that seeing him and Drago fight was "better than 20 million", alluding to a possible war between the U.S. and the Soviets. Rocky finally declares, "If I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change!" The Soviet general secretary stands up and reluctantly applauds Rocky, and his aides follow suit. Rocky ends his speech by wishing his son watching the match on TV a Merry Christmas, and raises his arms into the air in victory as the crowd applauds.

Cast

LeRoy Neiman plays the ring announcer in the Creed-Drago match. Burgess Meredith appears as Mickey Goldmill in archive footage. Appearing as themselves are singer James Brown and commentators Stu Nahan, Warner Wolf, R. J. Adams, Barry Tompkins and Al Bandiero.

Production

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 the Soviet Union. 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 Saint John's Regional Medical Center 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. [6]

Additionally, Stallone has stated that Lundgren nearly forced Carl Weathers to quit during the filming of 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 filming continue. The event caused a four-day work stoppage, while Weathers was talked back into the part and Lundgren agreed to tone down his aggressiveness. [6]

Rocky IV is one of the few sport movies that applies genuine sound effects from actual punches, bona fide training methods created by boxing consultants, and a bevy of other new special effects. [7] 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 20 years from public use. [8] [9] 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. [10]

Casting

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 second appearance in the series, the first being Rocky II , although the character was mainly featured in Rocky II. Stallone's future 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 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. It toured with James Brown in the 1980s. [11] The robot was written into the movie after it had been used to help treat Stallone's autistic son, Seargeoh. [12]

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

Music

The musical score for Rocky IV was composed by Vince DiCola, who would later compose the music for The Transformers: The Movie . 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 feature 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 ("Heart's 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 due to its similarity to DiCola's "Training Montage."[ citation needed ] 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 . [13]

Reception

Box office

Rocky IV opened Wednesday, November 27 and over the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend, it grossed a record $31,770,105. [14] It grossed a total of $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 The Blind Side (2009), which grossed $309 million (without accounting 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. [15]

Critical response

The film has a 40% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from 48 critics, indicating mixed reviews; the critical consensus states, "Rocky IV inflates the action to absurd heights, but it ultimately rings hollow thanks to a story that hits the same basic beats as the first three entries in the franchise." [16] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 11 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews." [17]

Roger Ebert gave the film two out of four stars, stating that with this film the Rocky series began "finally losing its legs. It's been a long run, one hit movie after another, but Rocky IV is a last gasp, a film so predictable that viewing it is like watching one of those old sitcoms where the characters never change and the same situations turn up again and again." [18] Ian Nathan of Empire gave the film two out of five stars, calling the script a "laughable turd" and describing Rocky IV as "the [film] where the Rocky series threw in the towel on the credibility." [19]

Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune gave the film a 3.5 out of 4 stars, and stated in his review, "[Stallone] creates credible villains worthy of his heroic character." [20]

Accolades

Dolph Lundgren received acclaim for his performance as Ivan Drago. He won the Marshall Trophy for Best Actor at the Napierville Cinema Festival. [21] 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, and also for 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. [22]

Analysis

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. [23] They contrast that with Ivan Drago's hyperbolic characterization as a representation of Soviet power in the context of the latter part of the Cold War. [24] [25] 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 "antagonistic 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." [26] Drago represents the totalitarian regime, demonstrating his power when he topples an arrogant opponent (Creed). [27] Later on, the radio announcer says, "Ivan Drago is a man with an entire country in his corner." [28] Scholars note that Drago's ultimate defeat — and the Soviet crowd's embrace of Rocky — represents a crumbling of the Soviet Union. [27] [29]

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. [30]

Katya Lycheva, a Soviet child-ambassador to the United States in 1986, wrote a note about Rocky 4 in her diary, which was later partly released by Soviet press and got a huge attention:

Before going to bed, we had some free time, so my mother and I decided to watch an American movie "Rocky IV" via pay channel. It supposed to be a film about a Soviet boxer. For the ten days traveling in the United States, I have already missed home, and I wanted to see something about the Soviet people. A brutal face of the actor playing a so-called "Soviet boxer" frightened me. When he had killed an American Negro athlete in the ring, I ran into my bedroom, threw myself on the bed and cried. I was offended that this film portrays our country so falsely and cruelly…

The next day, in a television interview, I said: "In the film "Rocky IV", which is shown on American television, there is not a word of truth about the Soviet Union. The Soviet people, even individuals such is not the case. I'm ashamed of the adults who made this movie. I realized that those who incite hatred for our people are the first enemies of peace on Earth." [31]

Novelization

A novelization was published by Ballantine Books in 1985. Sylvester Stallone was credited as the author. [32]

Litigation

The script development was the subject of a famous copyright lawsuit, Anderson v. Stallone . [33] 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 could not enforce his unauthorized story extension against the owner of the character's copyrights.

See also

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