Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago
The Ultimate Director’s Cut
review by Bobby Blakey
There is no denying that one of the most iconic film series of all time is Rocky. The series has had its ups and downs, but not only launched Stallone’s career, but also helped to relaunch his resurgence. The original 1976 original spawned five sequels and two spin-offs with the Creed series. Of them all only 1985s Rocky IV has seemed to have outshined the original thanks in part to the epic showdown between then newcomer Dolph Lundgren and Stallone.
Rocky IV follows Rocky Balboa who accompanies his friend Apollo Creed to the ring in a boxing match against a Russian Boxer named Ivan Drago. Drago is too strong for Creed, and unfortunately kills him in his match. Balboa blames himself for Creed's death and is determined to defeat Drago in a boxing match. He gains the help of Creed's former manager, Duke and travels to U.S.S.R. to take on Drago.
Now Stallone himself has recut the film adding over 40 minutes of never-before-seen footage to this new director’s cut edition to make the films fight scenes more intense, the music more powerful and the drama heightened. Now before you think this is some inflated long director’s cut, the 40 minutes added is actually more replacing scenes and changing the overall tone of some elements of the film.
The original film while still impactful and exciting had a bit of camp to it which has all been taken out including the famed Paulie birthday sequence featuring the infamous robot. Instead we have a film strictly focused on the situation and emotions leading up to the Apollo Drago fight and then the aftermath and of course the Rocky Drago fight. This has made a darker more serious direction to the film that works even better all around. There are even more elements to Drago himself and the reaction to his loss by the Russian government that not only makes more sense to the tone, but also where we see things have headed for Drago in Creed II.
I love the original version, but have to admit that this cut is so much better. It feels more in line with the other films in the franchise, but also heavier due to the loss and effects these fights take on Rocky physically and emotionally. When a director recuts their films it often times offers little in the change to the tone or story, but Stallone had a clear vision and took it there and it’s better for it.
Check out Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago The Ultimate Director’s Cut available On Demand now.