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Awfully Good: Rocky IV + Rocky V (Video)

11.25.2015

This year I'm thankful for CREED bringing Rocky Balboa back in to our lives…

 

Rocky IV (1985)

 

Director: Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Talia Shire

 

Rocky Balboa prepares for the fight of his life—defeating the USSR and ending the Cold War.

I recognize that ROCKY IV is a pretty bad film, but, man, is it great. 

By the third sequel, the series loses a lot of what made Rocky Rocky. What started as a personal story about being an underdog and seeking redemption has somehow morphed in to a mythic legend of an unstoppable hero fighting for America and the freedom to wear outlandishly patriotic sequined outfits. There's also no Bill Conti score; they don't even really play Rocky's iconic "Gonna Fly Now" theme. So there's a lot working against this entry, but I don't care about any of that. I am more than happy to watch a movie where the Italian Stallion literally punches Communism in the face for justice. 


And that's why they named it the Rocky Mountains.

If I had to pick one piece of evidence to validate ROCKY IV's inclusion in this column, I only need one word: ROBOT. At the beginning of the film, Rocky gives Paulie a six-foot tall android for his birthday and it is probably the worst decision in the entire series. (Allegedly, Stallone saw the robot at a party and decided to write it in to the movie.) The robot ruins every scene it's in, mainly because any time it randomly rolls in to a room, everyone has to stop whatever they're doing to and confusedly say, "What the hell is that thing?" Even when Rocky goes to Russia, every time it cuts back to his son watching the fight, that damn robot is in the background drawing attention to itself. And on a more disturbing note, Paulie—Rocky's loyal friend and cornerman—somehow reprograms the bot to transition from a male persona to that of a sensual female housewife. I didn't realize this when I watched this movie as a kid, but Paulie is definitely f*cking that robot.


This probably isn't a picture of a child giving a handy to a robot.

After defeating Mr. T, Rocky has settled in to a comfortable domestic life with Adrian and Rocky Jr. outside of the ring, until his ol' beach time romping pal Apollo Creed comes calling. Creed has agreed to fight a lab-grown Russian boxer named Ivan Drago in what is supposed to be a friendly exhibition match between the two Cold War countries, and needs Rocky in his corner. In what could either be considered a high or yet another low for the series, Creed enters the match to a musical performance by James Brown, dancing around in a sparkling Uncle Sam costume while being lowered in to the ring on a giant golden calf. (Subtlety be damned!) All this grandstanding only fuels Drago's hatred of American values, and he ends up literally punching Creed to death in the ring as Rocky looks on. 

 
"You know what's American? Stew. Who's got a stew going?"

This might be a good time to mention all the unnecessary time wasting ROCKY IV does in its already short runtime. In addition to the aforementioned James Brown musical number, the film also features a recap of ROCKY III in the beginning, another five-minute multi-film flashback montage as Rocky drives in his car following Creed;s death, not one but TWO training montages, a performance of the Soviet National Anthem in its entirety, and then another montage during the final fight. There's probably less than an hour of actual movie in this movie, and sadly that includes multiple scenes of Paulie's gender-bending robot. 

 
Rocky always blinks in photos. 

Anyways, Rocky of course decides to stand up for 'Murica and challenges Drago to the ultimate showdown. In Russia. On Christmas Day. And to make it even more epic, Rocky eschews the conveniences of a modern training facility, instead deciding to camp out in the frozen Russian wilderness to prepare for the fight. And so begins two amazing training montages showcasing Russian science vs. American might. Drago lifts weights; Rocky lifts a pile of rocks in a barn. Drago uses a high-tech rowing machine; Rocky pulls Paulie on a sled in the snow. Drago knocks men down while sparring: Rocky knocks down entire trees in the forest. Drago runs on treadmill, while Rocky runs up an entire mountain, screaming his opponent's name when he reaches the peak. I just grew a new patch of hair on my chest just thinking about it. 

 
The original concept for WRECK-IT DOLPH was not as successful. 

All of that training leads to the most ridiculous fight in the entire series—just two behemoths beating each other relentlessly for 15 rounds. ROCKY IV rejects realism for complete fantasy in the title match, which is fitting given the international stakes. The amount of hits they take in the montage alone would leave both men brain-dead. In fact, Sylvester Stallone actually spent a week in the ICU with a swollen heart from just one real punch from Dolph Lundgren during filming. Speaking of, Lundgren is iconic as Drago, a man whose few words leave an impact. "I must break you." "If he dies, he dies."  "I defeat all man. Soon I defeat real champion." So many great lines and Lundgren sells them all, in addition to his insane physical performance. Obviously, Rocky is going to win this fight in the end, but if there was one opponent that could defeat him, it's Ivan Drago.

 
Unfortunately, those enchiladas Drago ate for lunch also said, "I must break you."

In case all the subtlety was lost on you, ROCKY IV ends with the title character giving a heartfelt speech to the Russian people attempting to end the Cold War and unite both countries. "If I can change and you can change, EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE!" His power and heart are so mighty that even the character who was clearly supposed to be Mikhail Gorbachev stands up and cheers for Rocky. It's cheesy and ridiculous, like this movie, but dammit if it also isn't amazing. 

 
Nothing says happy anniversary like domestic violence!

Some of the best dialogue from Drago, Paulie and even the robot. And of course, Rocky's big communism-ending speech at the end. 

The best of the robot, Creed's embarrassing musical number, some amazing training montages and of course the final fight against Ivan Drago.

All the glistening pecs you can handle.


He's not a machine, he's a man! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • The robot is present
  • There's a montage, flashback or other time-wasting scene
  • Drago has a dead look on his face
  • Apollo calls Rocky "Stallion"
  • A hit clearly doesn't connect during a fight 

Double shot if:

  • Drago speaks

Hold up! I didn't hear no bell! We've got one more round for you as Jesse Shade offers his take on ROCKY V in the Awfully Good Movies video column! How's that for a double header? Strap on your gloves and let's get it on!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: Sylvester Stallone once said that following the events in this film, Ivan Drago went back to Russia disgraced, became an alcoholic, and killed himself. And they all lived happily ever after...
Source: JoBlo.com

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9:24PM on 11/26/2015
There's nothing Awfully Good about Rocky IV. It was one of the best in the series.
There's nothing Awfully Good about Rocky IV. It was one of the best in the series.
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12:55PM on 11/26/2015
I love all the Rocky movies even though they became campy after part 2, this one is the only one I saw in theatres, I was 9 & I distinctively remember the crowd going nuts the entire movie. Don't get the hate for Rocky V either, to me its just followers trying to look cool.
I love all the Rocky movies even though they became campy after part 2, this one is the only one I saw in theatres, I was 9 & I distinctively remember the crowd going nuts the entire movie. Don't get the hate for Rocky V either, to me its just followers trying to look cool.
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+1
2:55PM on 11/25/2015
This movie is a guilty pleasure. A true gem from the 80s.
This movie is a guilty pleasure. A true gem from the 80s.
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11:23AM on 11/25/2015

Rocky IV has great historical significance

Rocky IV is a great example of 80's jingoism. It's like the boxing version of Red Dawn. Plus - the hardest working man in show business, Mr.James Brown!

Rocky V is an abomination. Rocky Balboa helped wash that stain away.
Rocky IV is a great example of 80's jingoism. It's like the boxing version of Red Dawn. Plus - the hardest working man in show business, Mr.James Brown!

Rocky V is an abomination. Rocky Balboa helped wash that stain away.
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+1
10:30AM on 11/25/2015

My second favorite Rocky

I love this movie. I really do. Yes It is over the top and incredibly fake (Rocky should've ended up dead) but I love all the montages. They pump me up and are edited very well. There is also no score from Conti but the music in this music is great from the Training Montage, Hearts on Fire, There's No Easy Way Out. The James Brown piece for Apollo doesn't even bother me as I feel someone of his character would try to go over the top after so many years. Seeing Rocky run up mountains, chop wood,
I love this movie. I really do. Yes It is over the top and incredibly fake (Rocky should've ended up dead) but I love all the montages. They pump me up and are edited very well. There is also no score from Conti but the music in this music is great from the Training Montage, Hearts on Fire, There's No Easy Way Out. The James Brown piece for Apollo doesn't even bother me as I feel someone of his character would try to go over the top after so many years. Seeing Rocky run up mountains, chop wood, crawl through snow, life boulders. Always pumps me up.
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-3
8:45AM on 11/25/2015
ROCKY IV: 1/10
ROCKY V: 5/10
ROCKY IV: 1/10
ROCKY V: 5/10
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6:58PM on 11/25/2015
do you even like movies?
do you even like movies?
8:36PM on 11/25/2015
I like well-made movies. You know, like the first ROCKY.
I like well-made movies. You know, like the first ROCKY.
7:37AM on 11/25/2015

the unpopular opinion : ROCKY 5

I love all Rockys, I consider none of them disappointing.
Rocky 4 is great but man, why everyone hates the 5th ??? The story is good ands connects well with Rocky Balboa, the chemestry between Sly and Sage (RIP) is GREAT, the street fight is awesome, and above all, I love the black manager character (based on Don King of course).
I love all Rockys, I consider none of them disappointing.
Rocky 4 is great but man, why everyone hates the 5th ??? The story is good ands connects well with Rocky Balboa, the chemestry between Sly and Sage (RIP) is GREAT, the street fight is awesome, and above all, I love the black manager character (based on Don King of course).
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8:45AM on 11/25/2015
Personally I think Rocky 5 was pale in comparison with Rocky 4 but Rocky Balboa was very very good.
Personally I think Rocky 5 was pale in comparison with Rocky 4 but Rocky Balboa was very very good.
9:09AM on 11/25/2015
i think many people hates Rocky 5 because, like you, were comparing it too much to the 4th... people were expecting Rocky to fight on the ring another great champion (from China, europe or anywhere...), and people were confused to see rocky become a normal person out of the star system. I agree, Rocky Balboa is very good and was loved by the critics, but, if you look closely, Rocky 5 is like a draft of Rocky Balboa : rocky comes back to his roots, tries to connect with his estranged son... and
i think many people hates Rocky 5 because, like you, were comparing it too much to the 4th... people were expecting Rocky to fight on the ring another great champion (from China, europe or anywhere...), and people were confused to see rocky become a normal person out of the star system. I agree, Rocky Balboa is very good and was loved by the critics, but, if you look closely, Rocky 5 is like a draft of Rocky Balboa : rocky comes back to his roots, tries to connect with his estranged son... and Rocky training Tommy Gunn is a sort of anticipation of Rocky training Creed's son... Rocky 5 was ahead of his time, would have been much better accepted if it was released way later IMHO
9:14AM on 11/25/2015
When you put it like that, Rocky 5 does resemble Rocky Balboa a lot. Need to revisit both movies sometimes.
When you put it like that, Rocky 5 does resemble Rocky Balboa a lot. Need to revisit both movies sometimes.
7:31AM on 11/25/2015

4 is awesome

rocky 4 shouldnt be on here
rocky 4 shouldnt be on here
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6:46AM on 11/25/2015
Aside from Rocky 1, I think Rocky 4 is the best. It also has possibly the best training montage sequence apart from the first movie. Love that Wreck It Dolph and Enchiladas Said I Must Break You jokes. Really cracked me up, hahaha. But with Rocky 5, it's not a good movie.
Aside from Rocky 1, I think Rocky 4 is the best. It also has possibly the best training montage sequence apart from the first movie. Love that Wreck It Dolph and Enchiladas Said I Must Break You jokes. Really cracked me up, hahaha. But with Rocky 5, it's not a good movie.
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6:28AM on 11/25/2015

Also

The recent Russian sporting doping scandal comes as no surprise to people who have seen this movie.
The recent Russian sporting doping scandal comes as no surprise to people who have seen this movie.
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5:46AM on 11/25/2015

No No No No No!

Rocky IV is a brilliant film. So of it's era. I watch it every Xmas as part of my movies set at Christmas that aren't Christmas movies thing.
I don't know anyone that would rate this as awfully good, it's just good.
Love this column but think Rocky V (which is actually just awful) would have been a better option and not on video review.
Rocky IV is a brilliant film. So of it's era. I watch it every Xmas as part of my movies set at Christmas that aren't Christmas movies thing.
I don't know anyone that would rate this as awfully good, it's just good.
Love this column but think Rocky V (which is actually just awful) would have been a better option and not on video review.
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