Rocky IV (1985) — How the Cold War was won

“I must break you.”

Sue’s rating: Yo, Gorbachev!

Sue’s review: I have a confession to make. I’ve watched Rocky IV in its entirety at least three times. None of those times have occurred within the last fifteen years. But I’m doing this for our Rocky Theme Week, so there’s a deadline and… well, I might have rented the confounded movie, but when time grew short, I sort of… skipped around a bit. To the good parts. That I remembered.

There were two.

See, the thing is, I’ve been working on this manuscript of a novel for the young adult market, because I figure someone has to be ready to step up to the plate for when J.K. Rowling finishes off… I mean finishes up Harry Potter. And y’know, I’ve really been motivated to get it done, because I’ve got proofreaders standing by sharpening their claws. You don’t want to keep proofreaders waiting. They can get so grumpy. Besides, Spawn of Mutant 2, in a show of blind optimism, has already finagled her teacher into letting her do a book report on it. So I really ought to get it finished so that she can read it before the report is actually due. So anyway, I’m sorry. I mean that.

But in the meantime, here’s this review that I really need to send in by this afternoon, so I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ask you good people out there to step up to the plate and help me out a little. Will ya do that for me? Heck, don’t do it for me. Do it for SoM2. Look at those big blue puppy eyes. What? You will? Really? Oh, you guys are awesome! She’ll be so grateful! Look, she’s doing a happy little dance. Isn’t that sweet? I just want to hug you all!

So here is my review of Rocky IV — as accurately as I can write it under the circumstances. You’ll know what to do with the rest.

As our movie unfolds, our hero Rocky Balboa is feeling pretty darned __________ about himself. The wife is ________, the kids are___________, Paulie is still drinking like an absolute ________, and Rock’s career is going just ______________edly. Alas, gloom and drama are on the horizon because _______________ has gotten himself into a situation after __________ overestimated ___________ and got ____________ in ___ rounds. Everyone cried. But no one cried more than Rocky, because he is a very caring, emotional and above all, a real ___________ of a guy. Rocky though is also a man who understands the need for violence, vengeance, ____________, and patriotism — not necessarily in that order. Make of that what you will.

Inevitably, Rocky travels to Wisconsin, I mean the Soviet Union (I watched this part!) and works himself into championship form by chopping logs, throwing rocks and teasing those silly little KGB agents. For some reason, the background music, while very thrilling, includes the lyrics, “…with a burning heart, just about to burst…” which, to me, sounds like an aneurysm. But you can dance to it.

Then he fights the Gi-Nor-Mous Proto-Russian. It’s really very __________. Personally, I just about __________, especially when _________________ and ____________________. I guess you had to be there.

After the fight, Rocky addresses the Soviet audience, because nothing says national diplomacy like a punch drunk boxer wearing the Stars ‘n Stripes over his _________. Yo.

All in all, I think Rocky IV was somewhat predictable, but in all fairness, it was also _______________. I know it’s hard to be _____________ about such a _____________ movie series, but sometimes when the __________ hits the __________, you have to admit that ____________ is the best ____________.

Don’t you agree?

Justin’s rating: So I think we’ve all just learned that Sue is smashed about 100% of her waking hours.

Justin’s review: Oh, Rocky. Your mumbly mouth and simplistic worldview combine to win me over in ways that I never thought possible! How you keep topping yourself with cinematic sugary delights as the sequels march on, I know not. But I shall name my second-born after you in your honor, and convince him (or — you never know — her) that the greatest glory in life is being able to keep standing after a guy keeps pounding on your face with the force of a Mack truck.

I honestly didn’t think it was possible to get any greater than the Mr. T-Hulk Hogan-Rocky triad of Rocky III, but the rumors I heard about IV’s superiority were vindicated, and then some. Without any of our current ironic self-awareness, Rocky IV perfectly encapsulates the essence of 1980s action cinema:

1. The leads are both incredibly large, muscled men who are far from renowned for their oratory skills. For some reason, this doesn’t relegate them to menial labor in the quarry industry.

2. Glam rock breaks out in almost every scene, straining like a fat man on a toilet to sell you copies of the soundtrack.

3. A training montage occurs, in which our hero can’t do, like, one sit-up at the beginning, but by minute two-point-five he’s a sit-up machine. Computers, sled pulling, and grim determined looks are also thrown in for flavor.

4. And, for no good reason, a robotic butler with AI abilities far beyond 2007 technology steals every scene she’s in. A freaking robotic butler! Who also doubles as Paulie’s object of sexual lust, but I don’t think I can continue down that path without some troubling deductions.

What I also didn’t know, prior to watching Rocky IV, is why the Soviet Union really collapsed. You see, I thought it had something to do with communism and angry dictatorships causing an economic collapse, plus there was a wall in some city, but I was a fool. A FOOL.

No, apparently Rocky Balboa was single-handedly responsible for the USSR’s demise. You see, Rocky’s about ready to retire (again), but when his old friend Apollo sports one last exhibition match against Russia’s “Drago” (the 17-foot-tall Dolph Lundgren), Apollo is killed in the ring and Rocky feels he has no choice but to march over behind the iron curtain and take it to the cleaners.

In every Rocky movie, serious amounts of screen time are given to Rocky’s reasoning of why he has to do this “one last fight”. His friends and wife keep pleading with him to stop, lest the brain damage become so severe that he can only make out basic geometric shapes and eat through a straw. But Rocky’s got his clever retorts: He fights for honor, to prove himself, for glory, for justice, for his friend, for his country, because it’s what he is, because there’s a sale at K-Mart and he needs the moneys, because the sun came up today and that angered him, etc.

Yeah, we get it. Just get on with the fight, already!

Rocky IV is mindlessly entertaining, a true ’80s spectacle, but for my money nothing is more hilarious than the end, when Rocky gives this great, moving speech to all of Russia (and the world) about how capitalism and communism can get along, how he has newfound respect for our Russian brethren, how the USA kicks 10 kinds of rear, and how we can be friends and ditch our missiles and whatever. I don’t remember word-for-word exactly; I kind of lost it after his first two sentences and started rolling on the floor laughing, as I am wont to do.

What caps off this scene is that after Rocky’s pretty much told Russia that they need some goodtime feelings to change their ways, the Soviet leadership and all these Russians who just saw their guy lose stand up and start a slow clap that erupts into massive applause.

Now, I’m a guy who likes my inspiration, but it needs to come from a legitimate source. I doubt that fifteen rounds in the ring, getting hammered by a giant human muscle with a flattop, is the best way to get the mind wrapped around a moving speech. I am pretty sure Rocky didn’t know where he was by the end of all that, or if he thought he was talking to a crowd of very attentive badgers. Nobody else recognized this, however, and the Soviet Union fell like a sack of potatoes. The end.

Didja notice?

  • USA glove vs. USSR glove!
  • For a long series, they have remarkable continuity between sequels
  • Robo Butler! The ’80s had the best robots!
  • Computers can make you a better boxer
  • Ah, the driving montage!
  • Ah, the training montage! Now, with horse pushing! And tree chopping!
  • Rocky’s incredibly fake-looking beard
  • In every movie, you see Rocky praying before his fights… nice touch
  • So Rocky single-handedly causes the collapse of the Soviet Union? Okay.

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