I wanted to write a Rocky article on December 26th because of it being Boxing Day and all, but then I got in a rotten blizzard-based car accident and that ruined my last couple of days. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but my wallet’s taking a hit. Feeling a bit down, I figured to hell with it. Writing about Dolph Lundgren might cheer me up a little.
I love the Rocky series. The first one is a genuinely great film and what follows is an excessive tour through the 80’s. It loses its inspiration for Rocky II, becomes cartoony fun in Rocky III and Rocky IV, becomes a complete shell of itself in Rocky V (though let’s be fair, “Get up, you son of a bitch! Because Mickey loves you…” redeemed it ever so slightly) and Stallone went out of his way to make Rocky Balboa happen, thereby leaving the series on a critical high note. Despite my unhealthy love for Mr. T and the way Rocky III is responsible for helping shape the landscape of mainstream professional wrestling, my favorite of the series has always been Rocky IV.
Rocky IV is so enjoyable in its simplicity. It’s a movie with two plot points: Drago kills Apollo and Rocky defeats Drago. Also, there’s a robot in it for no reason. There’s a robot and Rocky’s brother-in-law reprograms it to have a sexy lady voice.
The thing the movie is mostly remembered for is the antagonist, Ivan Drago. Of all the Rocky opponents, Drago gets the least screen time. He’s mostly spoken for by the Soviet representatives and his wife. When he does speak (he has a total of nine lines), he usually comes off as a cold monster, devoid of any humanity. That’s on the surface, though. On the surface, Rocky IV is the story of the Soviets coming to America to smugly show off their boxing superman, leading to Rocky Balboa watching his good friend Apollo Creed die in an attempt to defend his country’s honor. Rocky then avenges his friend by taking down the big Russian and gives a rallying speech that wins over the commies.
I’ve watched the movie enough to notice that there’s more to it and especially more to Drago. You see, while Rocky is indeed a pawn in a Cold War battle, he doesn’t appear to understand the true nature of what’s going on around him. What I’m saying is that as far as I see it, Ivan Drago is the true protagonist of Rocky IV.