Wasn’t the 80s awesome? OK, not all of it, but there was the boom in gym-culture, power, excess, evolving technology, the end of the Cold War, MTV and everyone striving to be the best they can be… almost.

Largely thanks to the slasher/action genre, it was also a time of the movie sequel.

Many would argue the 90s was the decade of the sequel boom, and they may have a point, but this was the decade that gave us Star Trek II, Day of the Dead, The Empire Strikes Back, Mad Max 2, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Aliens, Evil Dead II, Superman II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lethal Weapon 2 and many, many more.

But in 1985, Sylvester Stallone would come along and deliver the ultimate 80s sequel; a film that not only encapsulated all of the above in all of its cringe-worthy magnificence, but also pumped you up more than a yuppie on cocaine down the squash club… Rocky IV.

Where to begin with Rocky IV?

Long-story-short, Rocky must fight the evil-man-mountain, Ivan Drago, who we know is evil as he’s Russian, to avenge the death of dear friend, Apollo Creed, who Drago killed in a previous bout.

With the fight taking place in hostile Russia, can Rocky overcome the odds and defeat the undefeatable?

Spoiler alert, the answer is yes.

Regardless, we all know by now Rocky is going to go the distance, win the big fight and go all gooey on us, but clichés aside, this is not why I love Rocky IV.

Rocky IV is stupid. Really, really stupid. It has taken far too many blows to the head, but its heart is in the right place and you can’t help but be charmed by it.

Rocky IV is a product of it time; a lot of flash and no bang, but Stallone, who also directs, throws in everything but the kitchen sink and along with the unbridled passion and effort put into it, this is to behold and embrace.

This is reflected in part by the 397 montages that make up approximately 30% of the films total running time, and we’re talking about a film that only runs 91 minutes.

The testosterone levels are through the roof and you cannot help but get swept up in it, leaving you with an urge to hit the nearest gym and achieve greatness.

Rocky has always been a real character in a gritty, dense world, but the flashy, no-nonsense MTV style of filmmaking, with accompanying kick-ass-electronic-soundtrack, immediately sets the tone as you forget what a departure it is from the other six films in the series.

After all, we’re talking about a film that contains a talking Robot that ends up falling in love with Paulie, James Brown dancing around in sequins singing ‘Living in America’ and a 7ft Russian villain in the middle of the Cold War who looks like he’s come straight out of a James Bond flick (And no, I’m not talking about A View To a Kill Before anyone gets smart), and a schmaltzy post-fight “Everybody can change” speech that helped bring peace to the world.

Now, I’m not stupid and deep down I know Rocky IV is, but so what? This is macho, popcorn/Saturday night takeaway cinema at it finest, a tour-de-force, a garish masterpiece and the reigning champion of unbridled fun.

I’m always hearing complaints that sequels are just carbon copies of their superior originals. We have eight Rocky films now, and with the exception of Creed, there’s only one other that tried something fresh, and if anything, it should be congratulated for it.

About The Author