Rocky IV ★★★½

“No maybe I can't win. Maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he's got. But to beat me he's gonna have to kill me, and to kill me he's gotta have the guts to stand in front of me, and to do that he's gotta be willin to die himself. I don't know if he's ready to do that.”

So that’s the kind of nonsense you have to embrace if you want to enjoy Rocky IV. The rest of the movie makes about as much sense as that speech. I still don’t love this movie as much as some. I think it’s a steep drop off from Rocky III, but I’m starting to enjoy it more. And I love this franchise and character so much I have to enjoy it some. The thing I like most about this movie is getting more of the Rocky and Apollo friendship, which is my favorite thing about Rocky III. Also Dolph Lungren does a really good job conveying inner conflict through subtle facial expressions.

Aside from those two elements, which make up a very small percentage of the film, don’t expect any of the emotionally resonant character drama of the previous three films. The rest of the movie is a succession of music videos and footage of Stallone just working out for real (for like 20 minutes straight). But I get it, you gotta have enough footage to play that killer soundtrack over (one of my all time favorite albums for the record). But despite all of that, and this movie having the worst final fight in the entire’s still a ton of fun. A ton of ludicrous 80s fun. 

Man I didn’t even mention the robot or the James Brown musical number. But I feel like everyone knows about that stuff right? 

Anyways, Happy 35th Anniversary to this American classic. And just remember, there’s no easy way out.