Rocky IV

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August 31, 2010
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NC: Hello, I’m the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don’t have to. Let’s take a look at the “Rocky” movies.

(Clips from the first few “Rocky” movies play as NC speaks)

NC (voiceover): They certainly are a roller coaster, aren’t they? In that they range from cinematic genius to cinematic goofiness. The first film is a masterpiece, and the second film’s just as epic. But things start to get a little weird after Stallone starts directing. Whether you like them or not, there were definitely some “out there” moments in the newer films. You got Rocky going up against Don King, challenging a boxer half his age, plus fighting Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie.

NC: Yeah, things got a little odd in the “Rocky” series, but I think we can all agree that the reigning champ of goofiness simply has to be “Rocky IV.”

(The title screen for “Rocky IV” is shown, followed by a montage of clips from the movie; "Heart's on Fire" by John Cafferty plays in the background)

NC (voiceover): Considered to be the biggest and definitely the weirdest of the “Rocky” sequels, this was a movie that seemed too big for its britches. It wants to throw everything at you, and as a result, it turns out a silly flick. But it’s just as much muscle-flexing, montage-shoving, words-slurring and audience-shouting mayhem you’d expect from the other films.

NC: So is it great, or is it…not? Let’s take a look at “Rocky IV.”

(The movie begins)

NC (voiceover): We open, of course—like the other sequels do—with a montage of the last film. After Rocky and Apollo talk about how they’re feeling older, Rocky makes it back home to celebrate the birthday of—(chuckles) Oh, God. I will never get tired of Paulie. Is there any greater image than him in a birthday hat and a cigar?

(A Photoshopped image of an attractive woman wearing NC’s trademark hat and tie is shown with the speech bubble “Do me, Critic.”)

NC (voiceover): OK, aside from that.

Robert “Rocky” Balboa, Jr.: (holds a recording video camera and looks into it) You’re gonna love your present, Uncle Paulie.

Paulie: Where is it?

Rocky, Sr.: I’m so excited, I’m sweating.

(A robot rolls out with a birthday cake to present Paulie with)

Robot: Happy birthday, Paulie.

NC (voiceover): That’s right! It’s the Shark-Jumper 5000! (Text appears on the screen resembling a direct-response marketing commercial, with the phrases “Ruins any movie instantly in the first five minutes”, “Wow! No More Credibility!” and “Only $1,999,999,999,999,999”)You think you’ve seen impressive shark-jumping in other movies? Well, this is a fucking robot in a “Rocky” film! Nothing can top that. It’s like putting a giraffe in a “Godfather” movie. (Cue a Photoshopped image of just that) No rhyme or reason, just pure insanity. Isn’t it a delight? Isn’t this just the last thing you’d think you’d see in this?

Robot: Please make a wish.

Rocky: Come on. Make a wish like he says.

Paulie: I wish I wasn’t in this nightmare!

Rocky: Hey, very classy wish. Very nice. (Turns to the robot) What do you think there? (The robot beeps and nods) Very good, huh? (He laughs)

NC: Oh, look, the…robot from “Rocky IV” just nodded in agreement with him almost as if he can understand what Stallone is saying and actually interact off his emotions. That’s, that’s quite interesting. I didn’t know something like that existed. I mean, here I thought the world of the “Academy Award-winning ‘Rocky’” was very similar to ours, you know, very gritty and very real, but, uh, uh, no, apparently it’s like a sci-fi novel, you can just go out and buy artificially intelligent robots. I, I, I didn’t know that. (Awkward pause) WHY DOES THAT EXIST?!?

NC (voiceover): But while that’s going on, the Russians are coming as they plan to challenge one of America’s best fighters against their fighter named Drago, played by “He-Man and the Masters of Marxes” himself, Dolph Lundgren.

Ludmilla Vobet Drago (Ivan Drago’s wife): (speaks on TV) Today, the Soviet Union has officially entered professional boxing.

NC (voiceover): Drago—whose sources indicate he was sculpted after an Oscar (An image of the Oscar statuette is shown quickly)—is also a genetically-altered boxer having experiments done on him involving blood doping and anabolic steroids. So, in fact, Drago is a super-boxer. That’s right. Rocky is basically going up against a video game character. Tell me you wouldn’t see that guy in “Punch Out” or “Street Fighter”! You can’t, because he’s basically just a big monster! Don’t believe me? Just listen to how he talks. (A shot of Ivan Drago standing there silent is shown) Yeah! He doesn’t talk! He doesn’t fucking talk! He has, like, five lines in this movie, and they’re all under ten words. He’s basically just a dragon, a dragon for Sylvester Stallone to defeat. In fact, it’s just one letter off! (Text with the word “Dragon” is shown) That’s how little they’re hiding it.

Drago’s Boxing Agent: Though most of the world is ignorant in body chemistry…

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago by groaning loudly like Frankenstein’s Monster) Mmmmmm!

Drago’s Boxing Agent: …we wish to educate your country.

Reporter #1: There have been rumors of blood doping and anabolic steroids in the Soviet Union.

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago by groaning loudly like Frankenstein’s Monster) MMMMMM!

Ludmilla: Like your Popeye, he ate his spinach every day. (She and the other Russian agents laugh)

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago , groaning like Frankenstein’s Monster)nSpinach-roids! Mmmmmm!

Drago’s Boxing Agent: Shall we have a demonstration?

(Ivan Drago demonstrates a punch into a machine that measures pounds of pressure; the numbers go up to measure “1850 Psi”)

Drago’s Boxing Agent: Drago averages 1850 pounds, so the result is quite obvious. Whatever he hits…he destroys.

NC: (as Drago’s Boxing Agent) Just look at the “Rocky” franchise.

NC (voiceover): By the way, that’s Brigitte Nielsen playing Drago’s wife. Yeah, I know. The idea for being married to a brainless twerp because of illegal drugs is really quite astounding, isn’t it? Meanwhile, back at Rocky’s place, Apollo admits he wants to go up against the Russian stroganoff, but his friends are more hesitant.

Adrian: What’s the purpose? I mean, what at this point in your life is it worth getting hurt for?

(Apollo doesn’t have an immediate answer, and he looks around until he sees the robot standing there in the middle of the living room)

NC: Oh, sweet Jesus. (He covers his face with both hands and sighs)

Apollo: What the hell is that?

NC: Lazy writing.

Paulie: (sits in an armchair opening a can of beer) It’s a nice song.

Robot: (speaks in a feminine voice) It’s my favorite. You’re the greatest. See you, sport.

NC (voiceover): (as the robot in the feminine voice) So long, Paulie. I will service you later. (It shudders uncomfortably)

Apollo: Like I was saying, um…I don’t want this chump to come over here with all…

NC (voiceover): No, no no no no. It’s not working. No, no. You can’t just recover from that. I mean, you can talk about the fight all you want, but all I’m gonna think about is Paulie giving a metal hand-job. Seriously, it’s a FUCKING ROBOT IN A “ROCKY” FILM! OK, so as they sit around watching recordings of them beating the shit out of each other—you know, the good old days!—Apollo finds that he still didn’t get all the attention that he needed.

Apollo: Once your step out of that ring, stud, it’s like ancient history. (chuckles)

Rocky: Aw, come on, hey, you ain’t ancient history, you know?

Apollo: I don’t see anybody asking for autographs, do you?

Rocky: Apollo, I…can I ask you something?

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) Do you think the robot was a good idea?

Rocky: Well, you know, this fight you’re having against the Russian. I think maybe it’s like, uh, you against you. Maybe the show is over.

Apollo: That’s easy for you to say. You’re still on top.

NC: (as Apollo) You still got two “Rocky” movies AND a “Rambo” coming your way, so you shut the fuck up!

NC (voiceover):bSo of course, Apollo agrees to fight Drago as they announce it at a news conference.

Apollo: (answers to the reporters) Well, you know, some folks got to learn the hard way.

(Everybody laughs, except Drago, who remains silent)

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago, groaning like Frankenstein’s monster) Mmmmmmm!

Reporter #2: Rocky, how do you think Apollo should fight Drago?

Rocky: I think the first thing you’d better get, Apollo, is a ladder.

(Everybody laughs again, but Drago still is silent)

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago, groaning like Frankenstein’s monster) MMMMMMMMM!

Reporter #3: Drago, how does it feel to spar with the great former champion?

NC (voiceover): (dubs over Drago, still silent) I refer you to my first “MMMMMMMM!”

Ludmilla: In our country, Apollo Creed is well-known and very respected. It could be a good victory.

Apollo: (a few reporters groan in disapproval) Whoa.

Ludmilla: He didn’t come here to lose.

Apollo: Now, you hold on, little lady. You hold on, ‘cause lose and lose royally, he’s gonna do.

Drago’s Boxing Agent: You’re far too old to think you’re gonna win over Drago.

Apollo: Is that a fact?

Drago’s Boxing Agent: Yes! And it could be a painful one.

NC (voiceover): Uh, we know we’re supposed to see this taunting before a boxing match, but why do they look so surprised about it?

Dragon’s Boxing Agent: (to the reporters) Drago shouldn’t even fight this man, because he’s a has-been.

(Apollo gets up to confront Drago’s Boxing Agent and argue some more, but is held back)

NC (voiceover): (as Apollo) Never in all my years have I had another boxer tell me that he was gonna win instead of me! What a shock! What an absolute shock!

Apollo: (is being led away) And all these puppets you brought with, you’re history, chump! You history!

(Drago knocks down a life-size cardboard cutout of Apollo in his boxing getup)

NC (voiceover): Oh, snap! He knocked over the cardboard cutout! Probably because he’s more three-dimensional than he is, but still, snap!

(In Apollo’s dressing room, he warms up with punching jabs to a mirror as Rocky talks with him)

Rocky: Try not to wear yourself out, OK?

(Apollo chuckles)

Rocky: Personally, if it were me, I…I wouldn’t mind postponing it a couple weeks.

Apollo: Postpone?

NC: That’s right, Apollo. Listen to your friend; The…friend who had weeks to tell you this and only waited right before the fight to tell you to pull out. (Long pause before he slaps the side of his head with one hand)

NC (voiceover): So Rocky doesn’t convince him as the fight, it seems, is finally about to start.

(Drago is lifted up on an elevator to appear in the boxing ring with dancers in flashy costumes performing around and above the ring)

NC (voiceover): Or…go into a Broadway musical.

(Ivan looks around in confusion at the sight of what he sees in the performance, including two fighter bi-planes hung high above the ring)

NC: I-I’m with Drago right now. This is some weird-ass shit.

NC (voiceover): And just when you think the film couldn’t possibly get more surreal, James Brown, because the Broadway musical, the Russian Superman, and the talking robot wasn’t weird enough.

NC (voiceover): (as Drago) Um, I don’t know what you guys normally do, but in Russia, we just punch one another.

(The audience cheers and waves their miniature American flags once the performance ends)

Stu Nahan (Commentator): I’m Stu Nahan, and we welcome you to a most unusual event.


Boxing Announcer: Weighing 221 pounds, the former heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed!

(The audience cheers)

NC (voiceover): (as the boxing announcer) And if anybody has seen that razzin-frazzin rabbit, please let me know!

Referee: You boys know the rules. Watch your low blows, kidney punches, rabbit punches.

NC: (as the referee) And no murdering! I can’t emphasize that enough. No murdering!

Apollo: Come on, get your hands up, man! Do you need an interpreter? It’s time to go to school.

(Apollo does above fist bumps with Drago, but Drago’s fists are stiff and don’t move an inch)

NC (voiceover): (as Apollo) Aw, shit! Uh, Rocky, let's say we postpone this for about two weeks—(The bell rings, starting the fight) Oh, fuck.

NC: Come on, Apollo! You can do it! I have faith in you—!

(Apollo ends up getting beaten senselessly; NC wildly reacts to the punches with grunts and groans)

NC (voiceover): So, yeah, Apollo’s not doing very well. So Rocky, being a faithful friend, tries to decide when is the right moment to throw in the towel. He decides to wait until he’s dead.

(Drago continues beating Apollo before the Mortal Kombat-style caption “Finish Him” is shown onscreen)

Mortal Kombat Announcer: FINISH HIM.

(The footage is slowed down as Drago makes the last punch; a fiery explosion (put in by NC) is shown over Apollo’s face briefly; in slow-motion, Apollo collapses face first into the ring; many members of the audience get up out of their seats to gather around Apollo)

Commentator: Creed is badly hurt.

Reporter #4: Creed appears to be in very serious condition.

Drago: If he dies, he dies.

NC: (speaks in a Russian accent) In Soviet Russia, evil catchphrases say you!

NC (voiceover): So Apollo literally dies in the ring as Rocky has a few words to say at the funeral.

Rocky: You always did everything…the way you wanted it. I’ll never forget you, Apollo.

NC: (as Rocky, acting guilty) …On a side note, I’d like to point out that if I threw in the towel earlier, I don’t think it would’ve made a difference. I, uh, I don’t think he’d be alive or anything like that, and, uh…yeah, I’m just gonna go now, ‘cause, um, you’re all looking angry at me, so, uh…yeah.

NC (voiceover): So Rocky decides to fight Drago himself. This, of course, gets a lot of press from the…press.

Rocky: In Russia.

(Reporters stand up and clamor together at once with questions)

Ludmilla: You have this belief that you are so fair and we are so cruel.

Drago’s Boxing Agent: It’s all lies and false propaganda to support this antagonistic and violent government!

Paulie: Whoa, “violent”?

NC: (chuckles) Oh, God, seriously, who invited Paulie?

NC (voiceover): I mean, what could he possibly have to contribute to this?

Drago’s Boxing Agent: Who are you?

Paulie: Who am I? I’m…the un-silent majority, big mouth!

NC: (as Rocky) Damn it, Paulie! I told you to do two things: Shut up and not start an international incident. You didn’t do either!

NC (voiceover): So Rocky is off to Russia to fight Drago. Everybody in the world, of course, knows about it…except his wife. (Pauses) Whoops.

Rocky: I just gotta do what I gotta do.

Adrian: You don’t have to do anything. Don’t do this.

Rocky: Adrian, a lotta people don’t have a choice. I do.

Adrian: You’re willing to lose everything?

NC: OK, we all know this bit. Let me just sum it up.

NC (voiceover): (as Adrian) “Rocky, I’ve come to bitch and moan at you about why you shouldn’t fight!”

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) “And I, the wise genius, have yet another bullshit reason about why I should fight!”

NC (voiceover): (as Adrian) “I can’t support you!”

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) “FINE!” (pause) “So, you coming to the third act to support me?”

NC (voiceover): (as Adrian) “Don’t I always?”

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) “Cool.”

NC (voiceover): (Normal) Rocky goes for a drive, we have a montage of the other three movies—reminding us of the time we can take them seriously—as Rocky says goodbye to his son.

Rocky, Jr.: If a big, giant man wanted to beat me up, I’d be a real scared.

Rocky, Sr.: By going that one more round…when you don’t think you can…that’s what makes all the difference in your life.

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky, Jr.) You know, Dad, maybe the real hero is the hero who knows when to drop the sword. The—the hero who doesn’t get intimidated? Can look after his wife and son? Puts his family first? You can’t even hear me, can you?

NC (voiceover): (normal) So Rocky arrives in Russia, as he trains for the big fight the only way he knows how: a training montage.

(The training montage is presented with Rocky carrying a thick log on his shoulders over thick snow and Drago practicing some punches)

NC (voiceover): Oh, look! Adrian arrived to show her support. What a surprise! I guess the giant robot is watching the kid back at home.

(Rocky and Adrian embrace each other in the middle of a snowy field)

NC (voiceover): Well, enough of that.

(The training montage continues)

NC (voiceover): So as you can plainly see, Drago is training his body to be a heavyweight champion, while Rocky is training his body to be Amish equipment. And screw the stairs in Philadelphia; this time, Rocky actually manages to climb a whole freakin’ mountain.

(As soon as Rocky makes it to the peak, stands triumphantly with his arms raised and the camera spins around him, we hear the beginning of the title song to “The Sound of Music”)

Maria (from “The Sound of Music”): (audio) The hills are alive with the sound of—

Rocky: DRAGO!!!

NC (voiceover): So the day of the fight arrives as—get this—Paulie suddenly becomes emotional.

Paulie: (to Rocky) You know, it’s hard for me to say these kinds of things, because that ain’t my way. But if I could just be someone else, I’d want to be you.

NC: (as Paulie) And I’m not just saying that ‘cause I’m drunk, high as a kite and pissed myself. I…where was I going with this?

NC (voiceover): So Rocky is ready to fight Stretch Armstrong as they all rise for the Russian National Anthem.

(Such a scene is presented as the "Hymn of the Soviet Union" plays)

NC: Wow. The Russians really treat their national anthem with pride and respect. I mean, we had…

(A clip from the over-the-top performance playing James Brown's "Living in America" at the American boxing match is shown)

NC: …that.

(The Russian boxing announcer introduces Rocky Balboa with the Russian audience members booing)

NC (voiceover): (as the announcer) And in this corner, he’s a Swedish actor playing a Russian just to add double insult to your country, Dolph Lundgren!

(The Russian audience stands up to cheer)

Commentator: (audio) It’s unbelievable the condition of both men must be.

Drago: (to Rocky) I must break you.

NC: HA! Joke’s on you; the right side of his mouth is already broken!

(At the start of the fight, Rocky easily gets pummeled)

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) Oh my God, this was a mistake! I immediately regret this! Oh-oh WOW is this guy tough! I can’t feel the left side of my body! I don’t remember who my mother is! Now I think I’m a cuckoo clock! The more I think about it, maybe the robot needs a sister! UNCLLLLLE!!

NC (voiceover): (Normal) But of course, Rocky starts fighting back, as the crowd slowly but surely starts turning to Rocky’s side.

Drago’s Trainer: Как это можно сделать? Он ничего .... мягкая !! (subtitled from Russian) How can you do this? He’s nothing…soft!!

Drago: Он не человек .... Он, как кусок железа. (subtitled from Russian) He’s not human…He is like a piece of iron.

NC (voiceover): Yeah, did I mention Stallone wrote this?

(The boxing match continues on with the passage of time presented as a montage)

NC (voiceover): I do love these montages, though. You can cut to anything and it would be epic here.

(The passage of time montage continues with an image of Mario from Punch-Out!! with a speech bubble “TKO,” a clip from the “Care Bears Countdown,” a clip from the Tatooine bar scene from the “Star Wars Holiday Special,” a clip of Link from the “Legend of Zelda” cartoon saying “Excuuuse me, Princess!” and the inserting of the “Brady Bunch” introduction into the film)

NC (voiceover): Finally, Rocky pulls together all his strength and delivers the finishing punches.

NC (voiceover): (as Rocky) This is for Apollo! This is for Adrian! This is for my son! This is for Uncle Ben! This is for Aunt May! This is for the munchkin that apparently hanged himself in “The Wizard of Oz”! DIIEEE!!!

NC (voiceover): (normal) So of course, having beaten Drago, Rocky makes a great big speech about world peace. Yes, I am dead serious.

Rocky: (addresses the fight’s crowd) I’ve seen a lotta people hatin’ me, and I didn’t know what to feel about that, so I guess I didn’t like you much none either.

Russian Announcer: я думаю что я влюбился. (translates into Russian with NC’s own “translation” appearing onscreen) He says he cheated and should be disqualified.

Rocky: During this fight, I’ve seen a lotta changing…

Russian Announcer: лечение всего этого боя я понял что многое изменилось... (with NC’s “translation”) He says America is a bunch of pussies and could never win honestly.

Rocky: …the way you’s felt about me, and the way I felt about you.

Russian Announcer: ...я почувствовал что вы тоже изменились. (with NC’s “translation”) He says he puts on women’s clothing and hangs around in bars.

Rocky: There were two guys killin’ each other, but I guess that’s better than twenty million.

Russian Announcer: я думаю что это лучше чем даже двадцать миллионов долларов. (with NC’s “translation”) He says he wants to kill 20 million Russians.

Rocky: What I’m tryin’ to say is that if I can change…

Russian Announcer: я думаю что каждый взойдет... (with NC’s “translation) He says he’s forfeiting the fight.

Rocky: …and you can change…

Russian Announcer: ...вы можете измениться...  (with NC’s “translation”) He says Russia wins!

Rocky: (as the crowd starts applauding) …everybody can change!

Russian Announcer: ...все может измениться! (with NC’s “translation”) He says he’s going to disappear under mysterious circumstances!

(NC proudly takes off his glasses, slowly stands up and starts the slow clap before we cut to the Russian Boxing Agent starting the slow clap and everyone else joins in; NC claps at normal speed before clapping at random spots around himself and doing a full-circle motion with the clapping; exhausted, he collapses forward with a thud)

NC (voiceover): Yep, there’s absolutely nothing like a pledge for world peace right after two guys just beat the shit out of each other, is there? Yeah, listen to the slurring man who beats people for a living! Truly, he knows the way to a joyous, peaceful world!

NC: In fact, I put it to you: Has there ever been a speech about world peace that has ever been more poignant?

Judith Dunhill (from Zeus and Roxanne): If a dog and a dolphin can get along, why can’t our mom and his dad?

NC: …OK, well, this is a close second!

(Clips from the movie play again as NC speaks)

NC (voiceover): So that’s “Rocky IV.” It’s weird, it’s stupid, it’s completely self-indulgent, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t totally fun to watch. I mean, it’s up there with movies like Commando or Judge Dredd. There’s just a real joy to its silliness and over-the-top ways. I mean, obviously, it’s not taken nearly as seriously as the first two “Rocky” movies, but there’s just so much passion to it. Even though it doesn’t succeed at being serious, you can tell it’s trying really hard, and the energy and commitment that’s put into this film is part of the fun, even if it does fail at an incredible level. And that—for me, anyway—is good entertainment.

NC: I’m the Nostalgia Critic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to parade these words of peace to the world! (He gets up to leave and speaks off-screen to somebody) Hey, you! If I can change and you can change, we can all change! (A punch is heard) OW! OK, well, if a dog and a dolphin can learn to love each other—(A gunshot is heard) OK, OK!


Channel Awesome Tagline—Drago: I must break you.

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