If you watch the film, you’re gonna hear that many, many times. But don’t believe it. There is pain in this third sequel to the Oscar-winning 1976 flick that launched Sylvester Stallone‘s career. It’s all about boxing, machismo and testosterone!
Man, I wish the 1980s would never have ended. Reagan, Rocky, Rambo… The President had balls, and so did the action heroes! Movies were brutal and music was cheesy. Oh man, do I miss the dramatic keyboards, raunchy guitars, pounding drums and corny lyrics. Movies didn’t have to be original or smart in that era. They just needed muscles, sweat and blood. Cool, I say. If you’re in the least familiar with my taste, you know that I’m the hugest fan of Schwarzenegger. Well, he was at his best in the ’80s, especially in 1985’s “Commando”. Three other great macho stars of the era were Stallone, Carl Weathers and Dolph Lundgren, who happen to all star in “Rocky IV”.
Ah, Rocky Balboa: his messed up boxer face, his strong will, his mumbling… Stallone ain’t the greatest actor in the world, but he’s perfect as a dumb, macho boxer who has a hard-on for America. After facing champion Apollo Creed, Hulk Hogan and Mr T, Rocky is kinda retired. He’s happily living in his huge house with his Adrian, his son, his bro-in-law Paulie and his… robot!?! Don’t ask. He also likes to bond with Apollo, who has become his buddy now that they’re not adversaries in the ring anymore. He’s played by Carl “Action Jackson” Weathers, the coolest black stud since the Blaxploitation era. He’s hilariously arrogant, macho and all-American. He hasn’t been in a ring for 5 years, but the perfect opportunity to make a come-back has just come along.
A giant, freakishly strong Russian named Ivan Drago is coming to America, claiming he’s the greatest athlete in the world. He’s extremely tall and large, and he’s all Aryan with his short, spiky blond hair, his gray eyes and his steep cheekbones. Dolph Lundgren ain’t an actor, he’s a mountain of muscles! So Apollo and Drago face each other in a hugely hyped show. America is proud and loud, and James Brown himself sings the pride of the nation and its representative in shorts and gloves. Tough luck: at the end of the fight, tables have turned and Creed’s dead meat, leaving his pal Rocky with the need to avenge his death by facing Drago. The decisive fight is set on Christmas eve, and it will be held in Russia. Balboa will have to train harder than ever to defeat Drago.
The film was written and directed by its star, Sylvester Stallone. Okay, he ain’t what you would call a serious filmmaker, but he does know how to put together an exciting flick. The film has practically no story, it’s one of the most fast-paced pictures I’ve ever seen. During 90 minutes, Stallone keeps the audience thrilled. His visual style is great. The movie is filled with close-ups of sweaty muscles, cool camerawork and extremely well edited sequences. And man, do I love the soundtrack: Hearts on Fire! No Easy Way Out! Burning Heart! All great ’80s pop that kick things up a notch during the countless montages the movie features.
But you know what? “Rocky IV” is about more than testosterone. It’s about the Cold War, the defeat of the big USA against the small Vietnam, the importance of going back to nature like the pilgrims… Symbolism, dude! But if you ask me, it’s mostly about 1985, a time when you could fill 90 minutes with nothing but machismo, patriotic propaganda and montage. No story… No pain!