When a new contender arrives on the scene from Soviet Russia wanting to fight Rocky, Apollo Creed steps between them, demanding that he gets the fight instead. Rocky agrees and acts as his manager/trainer for an exhibition fight. Apollo gets severely beaten during fight against the seemingly unstoppable Soviet power house, Ivan Drago, and dies as a result of the injuries. Rocky, in an act of vengeance I suppose, decides to fight the behemoth in Moscow, on Christmas Day.
This film is very much a product of 1980’s America. Rocky travels to the USSR to single-handedly win the Cold War! It’s the shortest of the Rocky films by some stretch, as it only clocks up around 90 minutes. It feels like a film of two halves, with the first part taking place in the US, the second in the USSR, separated by a montage. And speaking of which, if you love a good Rocky montage, then look no further! This film, for the short duration it lasts is probably one third montage! That’s by no means a bad thing, as these are entertaining, and weather they are accompanied by Hearts on Fire by Rod Tepper, or Vince DiCola’s fantastically 80’s synth score, they really get you in the mood for the main event, which in this films case is the climactic fight between Rocky and Drago. On the subject of the score, although DiCola is brought in, in favour of Bill Conti, he really stays true to the motifs and arrangements from the previous films only adding a more 80’s, synth driven variation of his, which really works and makes for some fantastic music, particularly during the final fight. Other than the montages and fight scenes, there is actually very little that makes up Rocky IV. While the first film was a very gritty, down to earth underdog story, this one couldn’t be further from it, although you do see Rocky favouring more old-fashioned training techniques as opposed to the techno-gym that the Russians are using to keep Drago getting stronger. Other than the fact that this is set for the most part, around Christmas time, that’s the only real Christmassy thing about it. Other than the snow-covered Russian training area Rocky is provided with.
Rocky IV is a pleasure to watch, and while it is extremely 80’s and not a patch on the original, it’s still an absolute joy to sit back for an hour and a half and put your brain in nuetral.