“Rocky IV,” directed by Sylvester Stallone, continues the storyline of Rocky Balboa, a boxing Heavyweight Champion played by the director himself. As sports films go, the Rocky franchise is known for its iconic scenes and music, but the films don’t overly consume themselves with the sport of boxing itself. As tension rises between Rocky and his newest rival Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, “Rocky IV” focuses on the mental and physical challenges Rocky must overcome once again. Out of the eight-film series, “Rocky IV,” released Nov. 27, 1985, outmatches some of the other films because of the amount of heart that was put into the film itself.
Throughout the film Tom Bronson, the lead costume designer, never fails to perfectly match Stallone’s character to his wardrobe. Every wardrobe change highlights the Italian Stallion’s personality and the totally rad style of the 1980s. Other than the remarkable theme song the Rocky movies are known for, “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti, “Rocky IV” has some pretty good song choices that keep the film flowing. “No Easy Way Out,” “Burning Heart” and “Eye of the Tiger” are only a few songs that reinforce the time period of the film and flow with the motivational theme of sports.
The film itself contains several unique shots and sequences of scenes that pace the movie so well it feels like there should be more. The original ideas that form each scene make the film stand out. The different settings and locations, specifically Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park, live up to the magnitude of the film.
The past installations in the series rely heavily on dialogue to instigate character development and Stallone uses these previous conceptions for this film to build on the complexities of the character’s relationships. Throughout the movie, several scenes use natural dialogue to emphasize relationships and mature the characters simultaneously. The relationship between Rocky and his former rival Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers, is the real star of the film. The way Creed and Rocky’s relationship is written creates a brotherly love that without Weathers and Stallone’s chemistry would fall short. Weathers and Stallone’s characters build their bond through their love of boxing, and their performances build upon their complex relationship.
However, Stallone missed an amazing opportunity to reinforce the relationship between Rocky and Creed that was built throughout the beginning of the series because of an ulterior overall theme they wanted to convey to the audience. During the intense fight between Rocky and Drago, the filmmakers neglect to mention Rocky’s motivation for going to Russia in the first place, which was Creed’s death. During the boxing match, there were plenty of places for the filmmakers to tug at the heartstrings and make the storyline come full circle by bringing up Creed, but they overlooked it. Since the film was released during the high tension of the Cold War, “Rocky IV” shows major themes related to historical events. Even without this knowledge the film is pretty good, but because of this emphasis on war and unity, there was a massive opportunity missed specifically linked to Rocky and Creed’s relationship.
The passion from the creators was apparent throughout the film, and this gave “Rocky IV” a lively storyline. As sequels go, “Rocky IV” avoids fitting into the stereotype of not being as good as the films that came before it.