Rocky IV (1985)
There are not many movies – if any – that I have seen more often than Rocky IV. Did I have a bit of a man-crush on Sylvester Stallone when I was a kid? Yeah, probably. I have fond memories of my ten year old self pretending to be Balboa on my bed. I would sing Eye of the Tiger while using my pillow as the helpless opponent. Listen: it was the eighties, folks. You had to entertain yourself any way that you could!
Rocky IV is far and away the most extravagant movie in the series. It is pure entertainment with only the faintest whiff of a story holding it together. Ivan Drago is the big, bad Russian, so there’s an east versus west thing going on, but that’s very much of the time and feels very dated now. Besides, it’s not subtle in the slightest. But if you don’t take this as a serious boxing simulator, you’ll have a lot of fun with Rocky IV.
Most of the running time – which at ninety minutes is the briefest of the entire franchise – is a series of montages played out against the (admittedly, rather good) soundtrack, with plot developments happening in between. There are a lot of flashing lights; a lot of glitz and glamour. In fact, it’s a shame that Apollo Creed – one of the series’ most beloved characters – had to lose his life in this superficial entry. Oh yeah, spoiler alert, I guess. But come on folks, you’re thirty years late to the party!
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m the biggest fan of a Rocky training sequence that there is, but Rocky IV takes it to the next level. This is a bone with very little meat on it… perhaps symbolic, because this was Stallone at the very peak of his physical fitness. I mean, just look at those abs.
All right, so maybe I still have a bit of a crush on him.