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YMMV / Rocky IV

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation
    • Who is Ivan Drago, anyway? It's implied that he's been bred to box, has had steroids and blood-doping up the wazoo, and is supposed to support the State 24/7. He's treated like an object by his government and we're never told what he wants. When he says "I must break you", he means it - he must because he has no options. When he says, "If he dies, he dies", is he talking about Apollo or himself? Creed II would eventually confirm this was indeed the case, as his loss to Rocky completely ruined his life for this very reason.
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    • An interpretation of Apollo Creed is that he's fed up with retirement and growing old gracefully, and wants to go out fighting like a warrior. Some dialogue in Creed strongly implies this is the case. There's Apollo's line at the end of Rocky III:
      Apollo: You know Stallion... it's too bad we gotta get old, huh?
    • It's possible that the Villain Has a Point moments mentioned on the main page were intentional, and that Stallone was trying to paint the Americans and Soviets as Not So Different in their fanatical patriotism and aggressiveness. Trouble is, if this were true, it's undermined by the Soviet characters being such cartoonish strawmen.
    • Apollo dies in the ring fighting against Ivan Drago. Years later, Creed reveals that Apollo had an affair outside of marriage, resulting in a son. That puts a new light on his actions and motivations in this film. Was his infidelity and hunger to regain his former glory signs of a mid-life crisis? Or did he knowingly step into the ring with a devastatingly powerful and ruthless fighter many times his size and younger to boot as a way of paying for his indiscretions?
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: Paulie's robot buddy. Especially Apollo's reaction to it.
  • Contested Sequel: Possibly the most polarizing entry in the franchise, with seemingly equal amounts of defenders and detractors. While its fans love the emotional story of Rocky avenging Apollo, the training montages and soundtrack, and Ivan Drago, its critics bring up issues with the tone being a severe contrast to the earlier films, as well as the rather cartoonish patriotism and depiction of the Soviet Union. And there are some who admit that the film is heavily flawed, but can't help but enjoy it due to the sheer '80s cheese and over-the-top awesomeness on display.
  • Critic-Proof: It got fairly poor reviews even at the time, yet remains to this day the highest grossing Rocky/Creed film by far.
  • Fair for Its Day: As with most Cold War-era films featuring Russians as the villains they are cartoonishly evil, talking of their superiority to anything American with a clinical coldness to it. But Drago shows dissatisfaction with how his superiors treat him as a tool and shares mild Worthy Opponent feelings towards Rocky, while Rocky's speech at the end has him mention his respect to the people of Russian and calling for peace between the two nations rather than simply being satisfied with victory.
  • Fight Scene Failure:
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • As if Apollo's death wasn't bad enough, thirty years later we learn about the effect it had on his unborn son in the spin-off film Creed.
      • A few decades since his death Rocky is still remorseful in not doing anything to prevent Apollo's death.
    • Then there is Rocky's "You'd never be rid of me" promise to Adrian. Cue Rocky Balboa decades later.
    • Drago's loud proclamation that he only fights for himself and not his country, while brave, also no doubt played a large part in him being exiled from the Soviet Union. As far as they were concerned, if Drago wouldn't fight for them, he was useless. It makes you think that if Drago had kept his mouth shut, they may have given him a second chance.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The depiction of the new (at the time) Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev. While Gorbachev wasn't exactly "nice," his public persona made him look like a peaceful wise leader. And this worked extremely well in America and elsewhere in the West (the infamous "Gorbymania"), making his depiction in this movie hilariously stand out.
    • The main villain of the movie being a nigh-unstoppable Husky Rusky boxer looks oddly prescient today. At the time, Soviet boxers weren't allowed to compete, but tended to dominate at the Olympics. In the late 90s, as the Iron Curtain laid dormant and ex-Warsaw Pact countries started allowing their boxers to compete in international competition, Eastern European boxers quickly took over the scene, especially in the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. Ex-WarPac heavyweight champions after 1999 included Vitali Klitschko (Ukrainian), Nikolai Valuev (Russian), Siarhei Liakhovich (Belarusian), Oleg Maskayev (Russian), Ruslan Chagaev (Tatar), Sultan Ibragimov (Russo-Dagestani), and Alexander Povetkin (Russian).note  Currently the statistically most successful heavyweight champion of all time (longest reign, most defenses, longest undefeated streak, etc.) is a Ukrainian, Wladimir Klitschko, who has a rather similar physique to Drago (he's a more personable, thankfully).
    • In the Japanese dub of the film, or at least in the regular dubbed version of it, both Apollo and Drago were voiced by Kenji Utsumi and Norio Wakamoto respectively. Both actors previously worked before together as Raoh and Shuren respectively in Fist of the North Star. The hilarity came with the fact in FOTNS Raoh kills Shuren when the latter tries to kill Raoh in a suicide attack towards him. In Rocky IV, the roles are inverted this time, and "Shuren" (Drago) returns the favor towards "Raoh" (Apollo).
    • Turns out in this movie Rocky had a robot before Tommy Gunn.
  • It Was His Sled: Apollo dies.
  • Memetic Badass: Ivan Drago. A lot of YouTube comments joke that a sniper was prepared to kill him, but either him or the bullet were too scared to go near him.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Whatever he hits... he destroys!"
  • Moral Event Horizon: Drago's No Holds Barred Beat Down of Apollo, resulting in his death. A blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment is he pushes away the referee who was trying to break it up, implying he consciously meant to kill Apollo. What he say's afterwards grinds in what kind of person he is.
  • Narm: The robot, which seems quite out of place in a movie as realistic as this.
  • Narm Charm: The overwrought tragedy of Apollo's death, the outdated Cold War patriotism, the cartoonish Russians, and the Rocky's Anvilicious speech are all generally taken by fans as part of the film's appeal.
  • Padding: The film is fairly short already at 89 minutes. If you take out the end credits, the obligatory repeating of the final scene of Rocky III as the opening scene to this movie, and a somewhat baffling midpoint montage of moments from the first three movies including this one, the film actually contains closer to about 75 minutes of new footage. And that 75 minutes is further watered down by BLAMs and montages, meaning the story itself is less than an hour.
    • There are two extended training montages that go on for 9 minutes together, nearly twice as much as the montage in the second movie and nearly three times the montage in the first.
    • James Brown's "Living in America" musical number goes on for 5 minutes.
    • The bizarre subplot where Paulie receives an extremely sophisticated robot as a birthday present takes another few minutes.
  • Strawman Political: One of the most cartoonishly negative depictions of the USSR in American media, which is saying something. The Russian characters are a near-silent, hulking muscleman with little empathy towards his opponents, his wife who smiles gleefully when Apollo dies, and their Jerkass promoter, a Communist functionary who spends the whole film baiting Apollo, Rocky and insulting America.
  • Vindicated by History: Sort of. It's still considered a terrible film by many, but the way Creed was able to use Apollo's death to launch its own story, which is now regarded as the best the series has been since the first film, gives it a more respectable place in the franchise.


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