Rocky IV: Rocky vs Drago review – silly director’s cut is a losing battle Rocky

There is a tension in the Rocky series between two mostly inconsistent ghosts: Rocky Balboa as the embarrassed, humble, gentleman fighter of working Philly or Rocky Balboa as the comic avatar of America’s capable spirit, bravely grinding through title matches against stronger, faster, more colorful opponents. The first guy won Best Picture Oscar for his young writer / star, Sylvester Stallone, who, in a classic subordinate, was wildly outscored against All the President’s Men, Bound for Glory, Red, and Taxi Driver. The second type dominated the next decade in increasingly ugly and cynical vehicles, none more stupid than Rocky IV, who pitted The Italian Stallion against Ivan Drago, a dead-eyed, machine-gun robot from the Soviet empire.

Now that Creed and its sequel have brought back the vintage Rocky – and, in Creed II, Dolph Lundgren’s surprisingly influential return as Drago – Stallone has reorganized Rocky IV to look more like the original Rocky, at least as much as such a feat. possible. His new Rocky IV: Rocky Vs. Drago is only a few minutes longer than the original cut, but there is a significant amount of adjustment in this version, especially at the beginning, this is intended to add depth to Rocky’s relationships to his friend and rival Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and his wife. Adrian (Talia Shire), and remove some of the more silly touches, most notably the infamous robot given to his brother-in-law, Paulie (Burt Young), as a birthday present.

Removing Paulie’s robot from history will certainly be intimidating for fans who understood the robot as an impertinent symbol of the wealth that softened Rocky’s once-grain palooka. Stallone also throws the Balboa-Creed combat match that opened the original Rocky IV and replaces it, curiously, with seven minutes of Rocky III material that underscore their connection. Because Creed won’t survive his demo match against Drago, Stallone seems intent on drawing their scenes together as much as possible, hitting hard on the theme of aging warriors doing what’s in their nature, even if others have trouble understanding why they want to step up. back into the arena.

But let’s be clear: this is a ridiculous undertaking, a polish on remnants of the Cold War. For example, Stallone doesn’t cut the sequence where Balboa rushes off into the night in his Lamborghini to Robert Tepper’s No Easy Way Out flashing back to scenes from the first three Rocky movies. He is simply trying to add gravity by converting those flashbacks from color to black and white. (Fans don’t have to worry about the other mounting sequences, though: Unlike Paulie’s robot, the two back-to-back training mounts for the Dragon Battle are sacred.)

In any form, Rocky IV remains a clumsy, threadbare fantasy of Reagan-era botostrapism and political saber-wielding, with each powerful Rocky fist landing as a sledgehammer to the Berlin Wall. The film has always been a less fun recycling of the amusingly sticky Rocky III, beginning with Creed’s death in the ring against Drago in Las Vegas, which is so hugely critical that it throws the story unbalanced, making Rocky’s redemptive efforts hollow. (It was worse at the time, just three years removed from the bout where South Korean challenger Duk Koo Kim collapsed and later died after being knocked unconscious by lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini.)

Rocky IV
Photo: United Artists / Allstar

Rocky vs Drago manages to the smallest degree to make the film feel like some sort of character studio, rather than a quick 90 minutes full of reused footage and combat montages set to training music by Survivor, John Cafferty, Touch, and composer Vince DiCola. . The fight sequences in the Rocky movies have always been a dream of what boxing could be like if it were more like a choreographed street brawl than a sport where defense is a choice. Rocky’s strategy of wading his opponent with his gloves down is as if Muhammad Ali’s rope-doping strategy involved exhausting a rival by having him punch you repeatedly in the face.

All Rocky films are about overcoming difficulties with grit and determination, and they are all seductive because of that, especially when the odds are as great as Rocky fighting a machined Russian who is fully a foot taller and possessed by a deadly right hand. . But even Stallone at the time seemed to realize he had exhausted the formula, and he handed the reins to Rocky V to John G. Avildsen, who directed the original film, to regain the character’s lost soul. It didn’t work then for Rocky V. And it doesn’t work now for the unsavable Rocky IV.

Leave a Comment