Some might say there was no need for Rocky IV to be made. Maybe. But remember, America needed Rocky IV to be made. The WORLD needed Rocky IV to be made. The US was in the midst of a cold war with the Soviet Union. Without Rocky there to remind us that good triumphs evil, nature defeats man made anything, and we can all change for the better, where might the world be today? A nuclear winter, that’s where. And we all have Rocky IV to thank for saving us from that doomsday.
There are so many things to not love about the fourth installment in the series. There is the robot Paulie receives for his birthday. Then there is James Brown and a circus of performers giving the intro to the exhibition fight between Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Speaking of Drago – there’s him. He’s oiled up more than any boxer ever displayed in a Rocky film. He has about four lines in the entire movie and one could argue (strongly) they were four too many. Possibly the most dreadful part of Rocky IV comes in between Creed’s funeral and Rocky’s match with Drago – a long montage of clips from the past three films. It’s one of the laziest maneuvers a film can make.
With that said, Rocky IV is not a bad movie. It’s so over the top it’s fun. The setup of the USA vs the Soviet Union capitalizes on that particular moment in history. The spectacular display of Soviet technology in Drago’s training contrasted with Rocky’s training in nature is hard to beat. This isn’t even mentioning the introduction of a song, Hearts on Fire, that is nowhere near as good as Eye of the Tiger, but combine it with a surreal montage of Rocky using nature as his Nautilus machine and it’s unbeatable.
It’s highly doubtful I could ever argue that the good in Rocky IV outweighs the bad. Who am I kidding? Much of what I consider “good” in the movie is often quite bad. It’s so bad it’s good. Rocky IV is one of those movies. It takes itself super serious and yet it makes me smile every time I see it. Rocky IV is like Rocky III but on steroids, which is perfectly fitting.