“I must break you.” – Ivan Drago -
“I pity the fool.” – Clubber Lang -
I love Rocky III. Everyone else seems to love Rocky IV. So I couldn’t think of a better idea than an email debate with “Rocky IV is the greatest movie of all-time” fan-boy Mike D’Avria.
First of all, even though I am a Rocky III guy, I still remember being at now Car-Max was Litchfield Theater for Rocky IV. The last three rounds, the entire audience was standing screaming “USA”. An all-time movie experience, however this part of the movie is where I will begin. I understand 200 red-blooded Americans rallying around Rocky, especially during the height of “The Cold War”. But what was up with all the Russians changing allegiances after a couple of rounds.
Nice try. The Cold War ended in what? 1991? I would give Stallone credit for ending the Cold War, but in Rambo III (w a tip of the cap to Colonel Sam Trautman).
I wish they would have showed what the Soviet Army did to the crowd after the match. I imagine them unleashing FIM 92 Stinger Missiles as if it were the Communist translation of a “Turkey shoot”.
One good thing was that Adrian wasn’t there. But him yelling “Adrian” after his victories is part of the essence of Rocky. Instead, we get a Sloth (Goonies reference) induced garbling from him about “change”.
Speaking of change…
Rocky III brought us one of the greatest renaissances of a sports figure in cinematic history. In the beginning we see a “fat, content” Rocky Balboa that is all show and no substance. Mickey (RIP, by the way, but we’ll get to the dead mentor part later) warned him that Lang is a young, hungry “wrecking machine” and that he can’t beat him. Further proven by this amazing montagse of Clubber Lang http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Speaking of the man-hug, it did more for race relations in this country than Rocky IV ever thought of doing for The Cold War (is ‘the’ supposed to be capitalized?). This hug was the culmination of the new Rocky. I mean, it brought back The “Eye of the Tiger”. Which, between loss and death, had been stripped from Rocky’s soul.
“Eye of the Tiger”
Risin’ up, back on the street
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance
Now I’m back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast
You trade your passion for glory
Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past
You must fight just to keep them alive
It’s the eye of the tiger
It’s the thrill of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge
Of our rival
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watching us all with the
Eye of the tiger
Face to face, out in the heat
Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry
They stack the odds
Still we take to the street
For the kill with the skill to survive
Risin’ up straight to the top
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance
Now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive
* The most inspiring movie song ever by the way.
I’ll save you the lyric-lyric breakdown.
Without the aforementioned man-hug and what it represented, which may or may not have changed the course of race relations in our country forever, Rocky never would have even been able to step in the ring against Drago. It is Rocky III where he rebuilt himself. It was the first time since he fought Apollo that he had been humbled. A necessary direction of the franchise. Here is the ultimate irony and I will dig back into the first two Rockys briefly.
Why did Apollo agree to fight Rocky in the first place? He liked the public relations gimmick that stemmed from fighting someone named “The Italian Stallion”. Apollo, at the time was the ultimate showman, his goal was always to put on a show. I mean he dressed up like Uncle Sam, alongside the Statue of Liberty. The modern day equivalent of that would be Floyd Mayweather entering the ring dressed as with Justin Bieber. He repeatedly ignored his trainers when they tried to tell him to take Rocky seriously. See where I am going with this?
This is the same formula that caused Rocky to lose to Clubber Lang in the first fight. Apollo immediately recognized this.
He knew that in order for Rocky to “get the glory” that he would have to “Have the guts”. You see Rocky III not only remade Rocky, but also brought us a new Apollo. A wiser, hungrier Apollo. It is in Rocky IV, where Apollo’s innate “showman” instincts lead to his demise as he is ill-prepared to fight the Russian.
I will admit that “Eye of the Tiger” is the best part of Rocky III, and also one of the best tracks in movie history. But, that’s where it ends when it comes to the music of Rocky III. Rocky IV has one of the best soundtrack’s ever — especially if you like inspiring ’80s music to work out to.
Couldn’t one also say that Rocky IV was irrelevant? What else do we need to know about Rocky after “III”?
Don’t you think you are downplaying the death of Mickey? Look at the parallel real world universe of Mike Tyson and Cus D’Amato. Tyson was never the same. He started biting ears and domesticating tigers. If Apollo never came along in Rocky III then there would be no IV. Rocky would have faded into oblivion. Which is basically what happened in Rocky V when he was broke, Adrian had left him, and his son hated him.
Sure Rocky was mad when Apollo died. He was facing the machine and everybody thought he was going to lose. As far as I am concerned, Drago was overrated in the first place. A devastating puncher with no technique, no plan. He had never fought anyone decent, but a 50 year old has-been that thought he was engaging in a harmless friendly. Everything he learned in III is what led him to victory in Russia. Substance usually wins in boxing and it was the training in III that sculpted this ideal.
I can’t believe I’m this far and I haven’t even mentioned “Thunderlips”. The greatest role of Hogan’s albeit brief, and some people might say only, acting career. If Hogan didn’t have those attractive groupies follow him to the ring, then the entire Rocky franchise would have been devoid of attractive women.
Back to Drago vs. Lang… Drago was “programmed” to be a boxing machine and looked the part, but who had he fought, name the last relevant Heavyweight Olympic gold-medalist? I would compare him to a good college football team that goes undefeated during the regular season in the Western Athletic Conference, then gets beaten 42-10 by a mid level SEC team in the Gator Bowl.
Lang, on the other hand was not just a mouth, but the number one contender. I am to assume that he got here by beating several quality heavyweight fighters. Lang was “from the streets” so to speak. It was human nature for him to talk in the manner that he did. And he actually beat Rocky. Not sure why you just glanced over that.
Anytime someone tells me that Rocky I, II, or III is better than IV — no one ever says V or VI is better — they do so by badmouthing the fourth installment, but never seem to actually prove why the others are better. Sure, Rocky IV has a weird 1980s robot in it as well as the introduction of Rocky’s dumb son, but it also is the best sports movie of all time. Yes, I said it.
My goal was not badmouthing Rocky IV. It is a very close second to me after III. I’m a fan of substance over style and for that reason and the 57 others in this email exchange I will always choose Rocky IV’s predecessor as the best Rocky/sports movie of all-time.
Substance over style? You think Rocky III had more substance than Rocky IV? You’ve got to be crazy.
Rocky IV has a better plot, better soundtrack, better mentor-death, better villain, better end-fight, and of course a better training montage. Rocky training by running in the snowy mountains of Russia in December as well as doing ridiculous calisthenics inside what could only be described as an Amish-style Soviet cabin far exceeds him running on the beach and hugging his new BFF. It was so inspirational that Michael Phelps recently told reporters that he built a cabin exactly like the one in Rocky IV to train for the 2012 Olympics in. (Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
To close out my argument, I will quote what Rocky tells the Moscow crowd at the end of Rocky IV.
“I came here tonight, and I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve seen a lot of people hating me, and I didn’t know, what to feel about that, so, I guess I didn’t like you none much either. During this fight, I seen a lot of changing. The way yous felt about me, and the way I felt about yous. In here, there were two guys killing each other. But, I guess that’s better than 20-million. What I’m trying to say is, if I can change. And you can change. Everybody can change.”
So say it Bryan. Say that you can change, and admit that Rocky IV is better. If you don’t you just might be a Communist.