When shooting the film, Sylvester Stallone decided that for the shooting of the fight, he and Dolph Lundgren should hit one another for real, so as to increase the intensity of the scene. After doing three takes of Rocky taking shots to ribs, Stallone felt a burning in his chest, but ignored it. Later that night, he had difficulty breathing and was taken to a nearby emergency room. It was discovered that his blood pressure was over 200, and he had to be flown on a low-altitude flight from Canada to St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, where he remained in intensive care for eight days. What had happened was that Lungren had punched him so hard in the chest, Stallone's heart had slammed up against his breastbone and began to swell, cutting off the blood supply and restricting the oxygen flow throughout the body.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vernon Wells (I), Brian Thompson (I), Patrick Swayze, Kurt Russell, Peter Weller, Michael Biehn, David Hasselhoff, Tom Selleck, Jean-Claude Van Damme, William Sadler (I), Jürgen Prochnow, Johnny Depp, Kevin Dillon, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson, Jesse Ventura (I), Kiefer Sutherland, Thomas F. Wilson, Val Kilmer, Sean Bean, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Alec Baldwin, Jsu Garcia, Robert Patrick (I), Matt Dillon, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, Alexander Godunov, Kane Hodder (I), Chris Sarandon (I), Keanu Reeves, Paul Satterfield (II), Eric Stoltz, Chuck Norris, Viggo Mortensen, Gary Sinise, Tony Goldwyn, Armand Assante, Michael Madsen (I), Liam Neeson, and Roddy Piper auditioned to play the role as Ivan Drago.
The Creed/Drago fight takes place at the MGM Grand hotel/casino. The MGM Grand was sold to Bally Entertainment Corporation and renamed Bally's Las Vegas. A new and much larger MGM Grand was built, opening in 1993. The new MGM makes an appearance in Vegas Vacation (1997.)
Numerous fans have stated that they find this film to be confusing in terms of the title belt, and what exactly happens to it when Rocky is in Russia. This is most likely because the scene explaining what would happen to the belt was cut from the film, and replaced with a newspaper montage. Initially, between Apollo's funeral and the Rocky/Drago press conference, there was to be a scene in which Rocky visits the U.S. boxing board. Whilst there, he is told that they will not sanction the fight, and if he goes ahead with it, he will not be allowed to carry the title. This scene was cut prior to release as it was felt to slow up the film too much, and it was replaced with the much briefer newspaper montage.
If you look carefully at the very opening scene (the American glove and the Russian glove colliding), you can see that a split second after the gloves collide and a split second before they're covered by the explosion, the Russian glove breaks in half and falls to the ground.
It took Dolph Lundgren about six months to win the part and was first turned down by the casting directors for being too tall. Later, he got the chance to send photos and meet Sylvester Stallone who told him he had a good chance to get the part, but advised him to gain twenty pounds of muscle.
This is the first film in which Gonna Fly Now is not sung, although a few bars of the song are incorporated into Vince DiCola's score. Rocky V (1990) also only features part of the song in instrumental form. It wouldn't be until Rocky Balboa (2006) that the song, lyrics and all, would reappear.
While this film was Dolph Lundgren's break-out role, it wasn't his first appearance on the big screen. He had a minor role in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) as one of General Gogol's bodyguards.
Paulie's Robot was created by the International Robotics Inc. in New York City. The robot's voice was the company's CEO Robert Doornick. Roger Ebert surmises the robot is an android of some type, complete with artificial intelligence. The robot is identified by robotic engineers as "SICO" and is/was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and toured with James Brown in the 1980s.
In the Italian dub of the movie, Ivan Drago's line "I must break you", was translated as "I break you in two" ("Ti spiezzo in due", complete with fake Russian accent). It became by far the most famous quote from the movie in Italy, and it entered into common language as a much used slang phrase.
The "hit the one in the middle" exchange, long part of boxing lore, actually did happen during the Max Baer-Max Schmeling heavyweight fight in June 1933. Baer was knocked groggy by a Schmeling right hand in the first round and told his corner, "I see three of him out there." Ex-champ Jack Dempsey, who was in Baer's corner for the fight, responded with the famous line, and Baer went on to score a tenth-round knockout.
The training scenes set in Russia were actually filmed in Wyoming; the farm is located in Jackson Hole, and most of the exterior shots were filmed in the Grand Teton National Park. The fight itself was shot at the PNE Forum at Hastings Park in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Europe's 1986 hit 'The Final Countdown' is often falsely stated as being in this film, due in no small part to the song's similarity to Vince DiCola's score. In actuality, this song was released AFTER Rocky IV's theatrical release.