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MGM

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Sylvester Stallone
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Brigitte Nielsen, Tony Burton, Michael Pataki
Writing Credits:
Sylvester Stallone

Tagline:
He's facing the ultimate challenge. And fighting for his life.

Synopsis:
East meets West when Rocky takes on a vicious Soviet fighter who literally killed his last opponent! Sylvester Stallone writes, directs and stars in this war between nations, in which the only battle is fought in a boxing ring. Rocky Balboa (Stallone) proudly holds the world heavyweight boxing championship, but a new challenger has stepped forward: Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a six-foot-four, 261-pound fighter who has the backing of the Soviet Union. This time, Rocky's training regimen takes him to icy Siberia, where he prepares for a globally televised match in the heart of Moscow. But nothing can truly prepare him for what he's about to face - a powerfully charged fight to the finish, in which he must defend not only himself, but also the honor of his country!

Box Office:
Budget
$31 million.
Domestic Gross
$127.900 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French DTS 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 91 min.
Price: $99.98
Release Date: 11/3/2009

Bonus:
• None

Available As Part of “Rocky: The Undisputed Collection”

PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Rocky IV: The Undisputed Collection [Blu-Ray] (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 3, 2010)

Back when Rocky IV hit movie screens around Thanksgiving 1985, Sylvester Stallone was probably the most popular actor in the world. He’d provided a huge hit with Rambo: First Blood Part II earlier in the year and was flying high. The jingoistic attitude of that Vietnam-related movie jibed well with the mindlessly patriotic tone prevalent during the period, so the time was ripe for Stallone to exploit that attitude for all it was worth.

As such, we finally get to watch Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) fight a white man. No, I’m not implying that the prior three Rocky movies took a racist approach to their lead’s foes; the state of affairs in boxing would have made it unrealistic for him to take on a white heavyweight champion, as black fighters have dominated the ranks for many years. Still, it was good to see the movie eliminate that black vs. white subtext, even though I don’t think any negative racial implications were present.

Ironically, as Rocky IV wipes out any anti-black possibilities found in the older movies, it substitutes a much more negative attitude as the film totally buys into anti-Soviet hysteria. As the flick begins, we’re introduced to Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a Russian super-boxer who pops onto the American scene as a terrifying representative of his oppressive culture. Totally handled and manipulated by his chief, General Koloff (Michael Pataki), and his wife, Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen). Bored with retirement, former Rocky opponent - and ex-champ - Apollo Creed decides to stage an exhibition match with Drago to get himself back in front of the public eye and also make himself feel young again.

However, things go tragically awry as Drago’s power is too much for old Apollo, and Creed goes down for the permanent camp. It’s bad enough that this robotic Russkie made the US look bad - now it’s become personal for Rocky! As such, he agrees to face probable death and take on Drago in an unsanctioned fight that occurs in the Kremlin Killer’s homeland on the pathetically symbolic Christmas Day. Oy!

To be blunt, Rocky IV is a very flawed movie. Actually, I hesitate to even refer to it as a movie; this is more like a 91-minute compilation of music videos. We’d get a few minutes of exposition and then bam! We’d move onto the next training montage accompanied by some crummy Eighties rock ditty.

The flick never even remotely attempted to offer any form of character development, as it stayed with stereotypes and easy patterns. The Russians appeared least well drawn of the bunch. Lundgren only says about seven words, and the other Soviets don’t get much better treatment. At least Lundgren proved to be a stunning presence in the role; he was quite intimidating and vicious as Drago, and his physical might made the part work better than it should have.

In Rocky III, Stallone’s ego really got the best of him, as he made the title character little more than a buffed-up robot. That attitude negatively affected the whole film, as I think it’s the most soulless of the bunch. While Rocky isn’t any better drawn in RIV, at least Stallone seems willing to make him appear more warm and endearing. The Rocky seen in RIII bore absolutely no resemblance to the original character, while the man found in RIV occasionally betrayed some semblance of the old Stallion. It’s not much of a performance, but it represented a nice rebound from the prior flick.

As the supporting characters continue to die off - Burgess Meredith’s Mickey got the axe in RIII and we lose Creed here - more and more of the burden falls upon Talia Shire’s Adrian and Burt Young’s Paulie. Unfortunately, the script does nothing to support them, so they turn into nothing more than simple caricatures. While she at least got to pop out a baby and fall into a coma during Rocky II, during the subsequent sequels Adrian is allowed to do virtually nothing other than support her husband.

Paulie remains the film’s comic relief, though he shows none of the pathos found in the character during the first Rocky. That’s okay, since none of the crew display their old humanity. Both Paulie and Adrian now exist in the Rocky universe just because they’re supposed to be there; they have nothing to add other than face recognition.

Surprisingly, one of the weakest aspects of RIV relate to its climactic fight sequence. While this thing should have been a war, it flits by so effortlessly that it comes across as a light soiree. For all of its flaws, at least the ending fight in RIII was gritty and brutal, but RIV ends with a whimper.

Note the elevation in Stallone’s ego represented by his post-bout make-up. Although it’s clear he took a much greater beating than in the first film, compare his bruised and battered raw meat face there with his modest damage here; it’s a telling indication of how unwilling the star was to portray himself in an unattractive manner.

While it’s the thinnest of the series, I don’t think Rocky IV is the worst of the bunch; the extreme lack of heart evident in the third film really bothered me. RIV doesn’t manage much more warmth, but it doesn’t really try to do so, and perversely, that makes it more successful.

Rocky IV offers little more than a jingoistic, anti-Soviet screed that pummels us into submission with a slew of music video-style workout montages. The symbolism is ridiculously obvious - such as when one sequence alternates shots of Drago’s high-tech regimen with Rocky’s wood-chopping and snow-running - and the xenophobic attitude seems extreme even for that Cold War era. Nonetheless, Rocky IV was mindlessly enjoyable for what it was, and I didn’t mind the brief experience.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Rocky IV appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though never a great presentation, the transfer was more than acceptable.

Sharpness was generally good. Some scenes came across as a bit soft, partially related to the heavy usage of smoke effects during some scenes. Check out the scene in which Rocky brings Adrian the anniversary cake - it honestly looked as though the house was on fire! More smoke poured in during the Apollo/Drago press conference and throughout a few other sequences. I’ve seen smoke effects in many films, but I can’t recall one in which they were so overwhelming at times; it was an odd stylistic choice that occasionally made the movie look fuzzier than it should have.

No issues with jagged edges, shimmering or edge haloes occurred. Print flaws failed to become a significant problem. The movie looked grainier than expected, and occasional examples of specks popped up, though these weren’t heavy.

Colors seemed good. The film offered some nice patriotic hues with frequent use of solid reds and blues, and these appeared clear and acceptably vivid, though the murkiness often evident affected them. Black levels were positive, as dark tones seemed fairly deep and rich. Shadow detail usually came across as appropriately heavy and concise, but again, those oppressive smoke effects brought on some problems on a few occasions. Still, Rocky IV provided a positive picture that nudged into “B” territory.

Also good but modestly flawed was the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rocky IV. After the extremely active soundfield heard during Rocky III, this more subdued mix seemed a bit surprising, but it still worked fine given its era. The track remained fairly heavily anchored to the forward channels, where I heard good usage of the spectrum. Audio appeared to be fairly well localized across the three speakers, and sounds blended together neatly.

While not as aggressive as the mix for RIII, the soundfield presented enough ambient audio on the sides to make it fairly involving. Surround usage seemed limited to general crowd noise and musical reinforcement; the dizzying effects of the fights in RIII weren’t duplicated here.

However, since the poor audio quality of the prior film also wasn’t copied during RIV, both soundtracks merited the same grade. The audio for RIV showed some flaws, but none of these were as severe as the concerns heard in RIII. Dialogue was a little flat but seemed fairly clear and natural, with no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. The cheesy synthesizer score provided decent clarity, though it focused mostly on mid-range material.

Effects were a little more problematic, but I think most of those concerns came from poor foley work and weren’t related to replication issues. The various elements seemed thin but relatively clear for the most part, with one awfully annoying exception: the climactic fight scene. At that time, I found that crowd noises became moderately distorted and shrill, and some of the effects used in the ring were less than convincing.

Especially annoying was the scratchy noise that tried to duplicate the sound of a boxer hitting the ropes; this element seemed very crackly and initially made me think there was a problem with the soundtrack as a whole. Keep an ear out for it; the noise appeared only in the left front speaker, and it’ll lead you to fear that one of your speakers is dying. Despite some weak links, as a whole the soundtrack of Rocky IV was fairly good, and it seemed satisfactory for its age.

No notable extras come along with this package. Not even a trailer pops up here – it’s a big batch of nothing!

Kind of like the movie itself. Rocky IV is the least substantial of the series, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst of the bunch. Although it was excessively thin and flashy, it provided some moments of general entertainment, and it didn’t do anything to actively bother me. That’s not much of a recommendation, but it’s about all I can muster. The Blu-ray provided generally good picture and sound but came with no supplements. Ultimately, Rocky IV is best left to the biggest fans of the series – or those with an appetite for 80s kitsch.

Note that the Rocky IV Blu-ray appears only as part of “The Undisputed Collection”. The seven-disc set also includes the other five movies in the series as well as a “Bonus Disc”. Rocky and 2006’s Rocky Balboa can be purchased individually, but as of late 2009, the second through fifth movies can solely be found in “The Undisputed Collection”.

To rate this film, visit the Anthology Edition review of ROCKY IV

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main