Rocky IV directed by Sylvester Stallone
Do you know what won the cold war? Rocky IV did. That’s right, the Italian Stallion rumbling with the science project known as Ivan Drago won the Cold War. People underestimate this film but to me, it is the best of all the Rocky films. The emotional beats are there: Apollo dying at the hands of Ivan Drago, Adrian not wanting Rocky to fight, and the child that watches from home. There is even political undercurrents through the film with the East vs West theme that serves as the motive for both fights.
It also has the best training montage in the history of film. Fuck you if you disagree. Rocky training in Russia is cinematic gold. Heart vs. Science plays a heavy theme in these sequences. What I find amazing is if you want to be a youtube star, just put on a Rocky IV training montage and you’ll get like 10 million hits. (Shit I might even do it now). One guy with his “Stardust” channel posted like a dozen Rocky montages back in 2009 (I can imagine an unemployed ex-Lehman Brother’s broker sitting in his basement uploading youtube videos to heal his pain). He hasn’t done shit since then but now commands 13K followers. Then on the suggested videos, there were a plethora of Rocky videos to watch, many over 10M in views, and some up near 50M views.
This is the power of Rocky.
What people don’t know is that Sylvester Stallone isn’t given enough credit for his directing and writing skills. He has directed 8 films and written 23 films on top of being in over 60 films. For most talented people in the film industry, having any of these stats would be pretty highly regarded, especially considering how hard it is for a big budget film to get greenlit.
Just like in Star Trek, the original Rocky kind of bored me. I still can’t sit through the entire thing. Except for the fight, I find it a bit long and too focused on the love story aspect. Then, just like in Star Trek II-IV, Rocky II through IV is one of the best trilogies in movie history. Do you know who starred, wrote, and directed these Rocky films? That’s right, Sylvester Stallone. Testosterone, montage-heavy, glistening muscle camera shots of Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, and Ivan Drago are all thanks to him.
Who directed the dumpster fire known as Rocky V? John Avildsen, the same guy who directed the original Rocky. Everything came full circle. At least they had the sense to change the original ending of killing him in a street brawl. We eventually got Rocky Balboa and Creed, which are decent films, but don’t hold a light up to the Rocky IV.