Thursday, November 16, 2006
Rocky IV, arguably the best of the Rocky movies, sees Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) returning to the ring to fight Russian phenom Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Rocky comes out of retirment after Drago kills his close friend, Apollo Creed, in a fight. During this bout, Rocky has an opportunity to throw in the towel for his friend, but he decides not to in the end. His guilt over his friend's death forces Rocky to come back better and badder than ever to face his most formidable opponent to date.
Part of what makes this movie great is that Drago is such a hateable character. His stone cold, expressionless demeanor makes him seem almost like a robot, systematically tearing apart his opponents one by one. Of course, the fact that he literally kills Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in a fight gives him a lot of strength of character as far as being a villain is concerned. When Rocky steps into the ring with him, the audience doesn't believe he has a chance, because Drago looks that invulnerable.
Drago is also more powerful as a villain because of the tension between Russia and America during the Cold War in the 80's. The movie is set up at a time when Russia was the most hated country in the world for the majority of Americans. This fact makes the conclusion, which sees the Russian crowd turn on Drago to cheer on a battered Rocky Balboa to victory, completely implausible. It does not change the fact that the movie is great underdog entertainment, however.