Seeing as today is the 4th of July (AKA Independence Day, AKA Up Yours, King George Day) and you’re probably grilling some dogs and sipping some brews with your bros and/or homies, I figured I’d take a break from our 73 Sports Movies and 73 Days feature and undo my own pants button. But then I remembered that some of the most patriotic films ever made are of the sports variety, with all due respect, of course, to the Iron Eagle franchise.
But no movie – sports, war or otherwise – holds a candle to the U.S. of Awesome that is Rocky IV. Perhaps the most important Cold War film ever made – apologies this time to Red Dawn – Rocky IV potentially saved the world from an all-out nuclear third world war, and Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren should be celebrated for that not only on this day of America’s independence, but on every day for the rest of time.
Rocky IV was not only, in my professional opinion, the best Rocky movie, but it might have very well been the best sports and 80s movie ever made as well. After all, it was a movie about how the Soviet Union engineered the world’s greatest fighting machine in order to dominate the sport of boxing.
Forget the moon, forget nuclear weapons and forget oil. Boxing was the key to winning the Cold War, and Ivan Drago was the lethal force that killed Apollo Creed in their exhibition match to ensure Mother Russia’s communistic world domination.
America was the symbol of free, flashy culture and excess, as displayed by Creed’s over-the-top entrance that left Drago looking like a lost child in a carnival haunted house. Hell, Rocky’s family owned a robot butler, which is the most 80s America thing ever.
But Drago and the Soviets were cold, no-nonsense people, because they were so evil and had very little time to care about James Brown getting’ down.
“He could have stopped the fight… he could have saved his best friend’s life.”
After Drago overwhelmed and straight up murdered Creed, Rocky Balboa put the blame on himself for not throwing in the towel. So he did what anyone would do in his position – he agreed to go into the belly of the beast and fight the man who killed his friend. You know, after he drove around in his Lambo and thought about it first.
So it was off to Russia to fight the enemy, because it was really simple and convenient to book that kind of trip back then and not at all the easy way to become a prisoner of the government as we would have assumed. But the tables were turned this time, as Drago was gifted with all of the country’s technology and steroids and scientists and steroids…
… while Rocky had to settle for the harsh Siberian wilderness and no luxuries like razors. GRRRRRRRRRRRR ROCKY BEARD!
Naturally, that led to the greatest training montage ever filmed, set, of course, to John Cafferty’s “Hearts on Fire”.
This is probably as good of a time as any to mention that 80s Brigitte Nielsen could GET. IT.
Once it was finally time to face his ultimate foe and avenge his best friend’s death, and Adrian had nodded in approval enough times, Drago and the Soviet leaders showed their American guests what a real patriotic tribute was, with the cold, villainous tone of the national anthem playing as the General Secretary (who totally looked like Mikhail Gorbachev, but it was just a coincidence, I’m sure) looked on.
Despite the fact that Creed was always bigger and stronger than Rocky, America’s hero was able to go 15 rounds with Drago, regardless of the hellacious punches that were fueled by bovine hormones and enough steroids to kill Godzilla. Because Rocky had the will of free Americans behind him, he was not only able to knock out the great, evil beast Drago, but he was also able to sway the beliefs of the Soviet people, right down to the Secretary General, who totally wasn’t Gorbachev, you guys.
And thus, the Cold War ended. Russian people started wearing blue jeans and listening to Billy Joel music, and the world never looked back. All thanks to Rocky Balboa and his fists of change.
Final Grade: 10 out of 10 Apollo Creeds giving America the thumbs up