Rocky 4

release year: 1985
genre: boxing drama/action
viewing setting: home DVD, 6/7/04

synopsis: Russia, still amidst the Cold War of the 1980s, sends a big, ruthless boxer over to prove his worth; the guy kills Apollo Creed, necessitating Rocky training for the fight of his life.

impressions: This one had some of the best training scenes, and of course the brutal boxing death of Apollo. Something I got from the movie that I think a lot of people forget: Drago and his controllers basically murdered Apollo, I don't care how long Rocky held onto that towel without throwing it in. To me, the climactic fight should have been more about revenge/justice than any kind of political supremacy. Speaking of politics, there's a lot of the "evil empire" thing going on, including the blatant-to-the-viewer use of steroids to make Drago so big and strong. Of course, the patriotic American fighter must go to Russia to train and fight, since he's the underdog.

things to watch for: basically, the entire big fight at the end; notable high points: 1) Drago, bleeding and tired, comments to his trainers "He is like a piece of iron" and 2) when Drago's government crony yells at him for not winning already and Drago picks him up and hurls him into the audience

something this movie has that no other movie has: a boxer whose punches measure at 1850 and 2100 psi (3-4 times the norm for boxers)

acting: Sylvester Stallone shows a good amount of heart and guts here, and his character Rocky is intense. Carl Weathers exits the series and comes across as overconfident and unprepared, but looked good working out and boxing. Talia Shire was quiet yet supportive as Rocky's wife Adrian, and Burt Young was loud and crude as her brother Paulie. Dolph Lundgren was suitably menacing as the giant Russian boxer Drago, and Brigitte Neilsen was almost evil as his cruel, heartless wife.

final word: One of the lowest-rated of the series according to professional critics, but has some of the best training/boxing scenes.

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