7. Rocky vs Clubber Lang, 1st fight (Rocky III, 1982)
6. Rocky vs Clubber Lang, 1st fight (Rocky III, 1982)
6. Rocky vs Mason Dixon (Rocky Balboa, 2006)
5. Rocky vs Mason Dixon (Rocky Balboa, 2006)
5. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, Rematch (Rocky II, 1979)
4. Rocky vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV, 1985)
4. Rocky vs. Thunderlips (Rocky III, 1982)
3. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, 1st fight (Rocky, 1976)
3. Rocky vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV, 1985)
2. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, Rematch (Rocky II, 1979)
2. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, 1st fight (Rocky, 1976)
1. Rocky Vs Clubber Lang, Rematch (Rocky III, 1982)
1. Rocky Vs Clubber Lang, Rematch (Rocky III, 1982)
9. Rocky vs Tommy Gunn (Rocky V, 1990): All of the fights in the Rocky franchise are well done, and while this one came in last, it is still entertaining. It did feel a bit out of place since all the other battles took place in the ring.
8. Apollo Creed vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV, 1985): I enjoyed Creed’s fight against Drago better in Sly’s director’s cut, but the fact that Apollo dies makes it hard to rank this fight higher.
7. Rocky vs Clubber Lang, 1st fight (Rocky III, 1982): This fight was short but not sweet. Rocky gets knocked out and Mickey dies.
6. Rocky vs Mason Dixon (Rocky Balboa, 2006): Rocky proves his still has the “Eye of the Tiger”.
5. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, Rematch (Rocky II, 1979): What a fight and what a finish!
4. Rocky vs. Thunderlips (Rocky III, 1982): While this wasn’t a boxing match, I love it. Rocky is definitely the underdog – the size difference is amazing. The fight has humor, drama and is exciting from start to finish.
3. Rocky vs Ivan Drago (Rocky IV, 1985): Rocky has never had a more personal reason to fight and has never fought in a more hostile environment, yet he still finds the will to win.
2. Rocky vs Apollo Creed, 1st fight (Rocky, 1976): The fight that kicked off the entire franchise. Rocky was given no chance to win the title, but all he wanted to do was be standing when the final bell rang. Surprisingly (because it’s a movie and heroes are expected to win) Rocky loses, yet the audience is standing and cheering!
1. Rocky Vs Clubber Lang, Rematch (Rocky III, 1982): Rocky is going against a warrior who destroyed him in the first fight. He’s lost Mickey and perhaps “the Eye of the Tiger”. Will Apollo’s training and Adrian’s heart-to-heart provide the motivation to win? (You better believe it!)
Rocky IV: Rocky vs Drago – The Ultimate Director’s Cut (1985/2021)
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Burton, Michael Pataki, Brigitte Nielsen, and James Brown.
Tagline: Get ready for the next world war.
The Overview: Beware of Spoilers…
Rocky feels guilt for the death of his friend, Apollo Creed, who was killed in a boxing match with Russian Champion Ivan Drago. When Rocky is unable to get a fight with Drago sanctioned in the US, he agrees to go to Russia to fight the giant Russian.
Sly Stallone’s new cut doesn’t change the story, but does adjust the pace, increase the drama/humanity of characters and removes elements of the film that made it such a product of the MTV era. This was a bold move on Stallone’s part since Rocky IV was the highest grossing of all the Rocky films, was one of the top movies of 1985 and is beloved by generations of Rocky fans. Still, Sly felt that there was a better movie to be had.
The new cut starts with a deeper dive into Rocky III. We see Rocky lose the title to Clubber. At that point he has also lost Mickey who was like a father to Rocky. Apollo shows up and offers to help Rocky win back the title. Rocky, with Apollo training him, regains the title. I like this new extended beginning. It adds (pardon the pun) credence to why Rocky feels an obligation above friendship to train Apollo for his fight against Drago.
We lose the scene of Rocky coming home from his private “rematch” with Apollo. I always enjoyed that scene but like that we instead cut to Apollo in the pool getting the idea to fight Drago.
When Apollo goes to Rocky to ask for his help in preparing for a fight with Drago we get at least 3 scenes with Rocky talking negatively about the idea. I love how these scenes show that Rocky is against Apollo fighting Drago. In the original version they had one conversation at the table and while Rocky had some hesitation, he pretty quickly got on board. By having multiple discussions against the idea (with Rocky slowly coming around) we understand: 1, How dangerous Drago is and 2. When Rocky is talking about Apollo not fighting anymore he is also thinking that maybe his time to retire has arrived or will soon. These conversations also add to Rocky’s guilt since he was unable to convince Apollo not to fight.
We lose the robot and I am fine with that.
Adrian gets more screen time. She is against the Apollo / Drago fight and is more adamant. I love the scene where Rocky excuses himself to check on Adrian in the kitchen.
The fight between Apollo and Drago is an improvement. Apollo has more moments to shine. He isn’t just given a beat down and killed. I like that despite Apollo telling Rocky to not stop the fight, Rocky does attempt to throw in the towel, but is less than a second too late.
Duke (Tony Burton) gives a nice eulogy at Apollo’s funeral and Rocky has more to say as well.
One of my favorite additional scenes is between Rocky and Adrian when she asks him not to go to Russia. In the original the focus was on Rocky getting revenge for Apollo’s death with little thought for the ramifications the fight would have on Adrian.
I loved the new cut of Rocky’s fight against Drago. I was shocked (and happily surprised) when Rocky scored early. It made the fight seem more believable that as Rocky continued to fight against overwhelming odds he was able win the crowd over.
Drago was made more human. There are looks and body language that he displays that show surprise, awe, respect and anger. We better see that he is a pawn being used by his government to show the superiority of their way of life.
Rocky’s “we can all change” speech isn’t as long and better for it.
I love the scene of Rocky, Adrian and Paulie leaving the ring after the fight and the quick display of mutual respect between Rocky and Drago.
Overall I felt this Director’s cut was a major improvement over the original version. It feels more in line with Rocky and Rocky Balboa.
If you loved the original version then you’ll probably have some problems with the Director’s cut. This is especially true if Rocky IV was the movie that made you fall in love with the franchise. If you’re more a fan of the original (and its bookend, Rocky Balboa) then you’ll probably love Rocky vs Drago. I did.
Hats of to Sly Stallone for his excellent Rocky IV Director’s Cut and to Chris Bumbray for the wonderful interview!
JoBlo.com sits down with Sylvester Stallone to discuss the ROCKY IV DIRECTORS CUT (2021), how the approach with Apollo differs from the original cut of the film, how Drago was a more complex character than fans originally thought, and much, much more!!
PLOT: After reclaiming the boxing championship title, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) plans to retire and live with his wife, Adrian (Talia Shire). However, during an exhibition match, Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) is mercilessly beaten to death by hulking Russian newcomer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Rocky vows payback against Drago and flies to Russia to train for a Christmas Day fight. Despite their different training methods, Rocky and Drago both wage a long and intense match.
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Carl Weathers