Rocky IV (1985)

He’s Not a Machine, He’s a Man!

I was excited to finally reach this sequel in the Rocky franchise, mainly because I work with the guy that played the opponent in this movie.  I know that many of the people around my place of business claim that his name is Tim, but I am 100% positive that he’s actually Ivan Drago.  When I think of the Rocky franchise, this is often the movie that I immediately go to in my mind.  It’s nowhere near the best movie in the series, but something about this movie makes me regard it as the pinnacle of the series.  Let’s see if I’m able to put the reason into words in my review of Rocky IV, written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone, and also starring Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Brigitte Nielsen, Michael Pataki, Tony Burton, Burt Young, Dominic Barto, Rocky Krakoff, Sylvia Meals, and James Brown.

A gigantic Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), his manager Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and an idea to prove himself as the best boxer ever.  Retired former champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) gets it in his head that he should challenge Drago to an exhibition match to prove that he’s not over the hill.  His old friend and twice rival Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) try to talk Apollo out of it, but he’s got something to prove.  And what is that?  That he is so stupid that he’ll refuse to let someone stop the fight that he’s clearly losing so that it will result in him being beaten to death in the ring.  You did it, Apollo!  Not to be outdone on the stupid front, Rocky challenges Ivan to a fight in the USSR.  I assume that, if Rocky wins, Apollo will come back to life.  Otherwise what’s the point?

I would say this movie is probably the best example of why women don’t seem that interested in watching the first Rocky movie.  It’s incredibly cheesy in parts and the motivation for the entire movie is testosterone.  It exemplifies the things that I hate about those kinds of testosterone driven men.  “I’m rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I’m going to fight a giant until he kills me because I don’t want people to think I’m over the hill.”  “I’m clearly not doing anything in this fight and, in fact, am getting killed, but don’t you dare throw in the towel because being bludgeoned to death by a gigantic Russian and leaving my wife a grieving widow is preferable to losing a fight and being called washed up.”  “I too am rich and happily married and have no reason to ever work again, but I will fight the giant that just murdered my friend with punches because … well … he murdered my friend with punches.  And I don’t want to get paid for it either.”  If this is the kind of intelligence that testosterone allows, I’m going to stop taking those injections and tell the doctor to give me my vagina back.  Speaking of stupid, what the fuck was with the robot in this movie?  Rocky gives a 6 foot robot to Paulie as a gift.  It gets like a half hour of screen time in this movie!  It’s a major plot point somehow!  As mentioned with the other movies, this movie definitely follows the classic Rocky pattern.  Something happens, Rocky gets depressed, Rocky trains really hard, Rocky triumphs.  The training montage made me laugh too, mainly because Rocky’s method of “training” would be what all the people around him in Russia would call “chores”, and Drago was training on the deck of the Enterprise.  Rocky’s little speech at the end was pretty bad and stupid as well.  I understand that Stallone probably wanted to bring about change in what was probably some tension between America and the Soviet Union (I’ll have to assume because I was two when this movie came out), but I feel pretty confident that a boxer punching one of their boxers and making a hair-brained speech afterwards would not change foreign policies.  Especially when his big speech is, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”  Depending on how loosely you define “you”, then yeah, that’s basically the definition of “everybody”.

I mentioned one of the greatest things that the Rocky series had introduced me to in the previous movie when I mentioned that they brought the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” to the limelight.  I have a certain appreciation for cheesy 80’s music that gets you amped up, and this movie threw three new ones at us.  “No Easy Way Out” is another kick ass song, an equal to “Eye of the Tiger” in my opinion.  It would’ve been nice if the song wasn’t used over a really bad montage of filler, though.  All of those scenes had nothing to do with each other, and I’m not sure what they were trying to say with the montage.  It was just like, “What scenes were cool from the other three movies and even the beginning of this one?  SMASH THEM TOGETHER!!”  Survivor didn’t want to be left out of the cheese so they threw “Burning Heart” into the movie.  I would say the cheesiest one was “Hearts on Fire”, but I still enjoyed it.

This movie continues the trend started in the previous movie of changing all the characters.  Rocky became well-spoken, Adrian was no longer shy, and Mickey was no longer into breathing.  In this movie, they even changed Paulie.  All of the earlier movies had Burt Young playing the role of a very unlikeable person that Rocky kept around for reasons that were never explained.  He was always jealous of Rocky’s success, but was himself a complete loser with no likeable qualities.  He’s still not likeable, but he’s become more like comic relief in this movie.  Dolph Lundgren did fine as Ivan Drago, but didn’t have to do very much beyond being physically intimidating and force out a couple of words like, “If he dies, he dies,” and, “I will break him.”  I was also surprised to see Brigitte Nielsen and Michael Pataki in this movie.  Michael Pataki surprised me because I hadn’t put together that the guy from Sidehackers and The Baby was his manager until this viewing.  I knew Brigitte Nielsen was in this movie, but I was surprised to find that she actually used to be attractive, whereas now she looks like a Barbie doll that got left in the microwave.

Rocky IV is super cheesy, but not without a certain degree of enjoyment.  The story follows the same pattern as the rest of the Rocky movies, but this time with a Russian and a dumb speech that shows the world that we can all change, but only if a punch drunk goon tells us to.  The writing is dumb and predictable, and this one is exactly the testosterone driven dumbness that some people wrongly expect from the original, but it’s still kind of fun in a campy way.  And it has the most memorable opponent of the Rocky series in it, so you have to watch it.  Rocky IV gets “Whatever he hits, he destroys” out of “You will lose.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Cobra (1986)

Sometimes you just need to watch a really dumb action movie, but you generally still hope it’s entertaining. Not me! I see Cobra on the shelf of Best Buy for $5 and say “I gotta get me some of that.” So let us learn about one of the most revolutionary movies never, Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen (when she was still hot), Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson (the guy from Hellraiser), and of course Shao Khan himself Brian Thompson.

Sly plays Marion Cobretti, a totally over the top cop with a totally realistic name that has somehow earned him the nickname Cobra. He is a revolutionary character that you’ve never seen in a movie before: the cop that knows what’s right and plays by his own rules. Well he’s investigating a series of murders by the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson). There are no real clues and no witnesses, even though he’s killed a whole heap of people. Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen) happens to drive by one of these murders and sees his face, so she must die. Although, technically, she didn’t see the murder so all she knows is a creepy guy and some friends were at the side of the road one day. Well they try to kill Ingrid but she survives and that puts her under the protection of Cobra. For more surprising, non-cliche things, Cobra and Ingrid fall in love, there’s a corrupt person in the police department that betrays Cobra, and Cobra wins in the end.

I know the joys often felt by stupider people when it comes to an action movie. I don’t feel like every movie needs to revolutionize the genre in some way or have a great story or great performances. That being said, the combination of the 3 problems, and others, kinda makes a bad movie, even for a big dumb action movie. As I’ve indicated, almost every inch of this movie is derivative. Everything happens exactly as you would expect if you have seen at least one action movie before. It’s all laid out in the very beginning when a guy pulls a shotgun in a crowded supermarket and, even though he is murderous, as he does kill one guy, he decides instead to unload most of his ammo into the produce. Of course, everyone else in the LAPD is ineffective so they call in Cobra. He shows up in his car he stole from L.A. Noire with ‘Awsom 50’ on the plates, goes in there, takes a sip of a beer off the shelf, and kills the guy with extreme prejudice. You’ll be surprised to hear that one of his superiors (Andrew Robinson) does not approve of his methods. Cobra has a hard time responding to his criticisms because Cobra only opens his mouth for one-liners, and “Yippe Kai Yay” was taken.

If there was writing in this movie, it was not good. I already said that it was derivative and Sly only spoke in one-liners, but there was plenty else wrong with it. For one, when the Night Slasher goes after Brigitte in the hospital because she knows his face, he totally would’ve gotten her if he didn’t feel the need to kill EVERYONE on her floor in the hospital and leave her for last. If he got his head in the game and went in there and just killed her, he had ample time before Sly figured out that her protection had been called off suspiciously. The ending is also problematic. It’s completely anticlimactic. It gives you the over-the-top shooter that it should have, with a hefty body count, but I felt like there should’ve been more to it. Usually in this type of movie you’d expect to see the person in charge of the evil posse to be a higher up in the LAPD like Andrew Robinson or something. He was douchey enough through the movie that you’d like to see him die, but he just gets punched for being a douche instead. The crazy and stupid Night Slasher is in charge and is the final battle, which would totally work because stupid people are the kind you need to outsmart the police.

The performances are nothing special, but they’re pretty much what you expect. Sly is pretty uninteresting throughout the movie and there are parts where he makes awkward attempts to get Brigitte’s favor that seem completely out of character. Nothing else of note there.

Even for a big dumb action movie, this movie’s pretty dumb. There’s plenty of other watchable big dumb action to watch, so you don’t need to see this. I give this movie a “You’re the disease, and I’m the cure” out of 757.

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.