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Rocky VI (1986)

 -  Short | Sport
5.6
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Definitely not to be confused with any of Sylvester Stallone's efforts, this is a wicked satire on 'Rocky IV', in which Rocky takes on the monolithic Russian fighter Igor - and loses. ... See full summary »

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Title: Rocky VI (1986)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Silu Seppälä ...
Rock'y
Sakari Kuosmanen ...
Igor
Heinäsirkka ...
Doris
Mato Valtonen ...
Manageri
Juuso Hirvikangas ...
Sparrari
Matti Pellonpää ...
Aljosa, Igorin valmentaja
Jaakko Talaskivi ...
Dimitri
Sakke Järvenpää ...
Miliisi
Neka Haapanen ...
Tuomari
Asmo Hurula ...
Kehätuomari
Jussi Kersch ...
Päätuomari
Marjaana Mykkänen ...
Numerotyttö
...
Lehtikuvaaja
Tiina Tiikeri
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Heimo Holopainen ...
Radioselostaja
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Storyline

Definitely not to be confused with any of Sylvester Stallone's efforts, this is a wicked satire on 'Rocky IV', in which Rocky takes on the monolithic Russian fighter Igor - and loses. Kaurismaeki describes the film as "my revenge on Mr.Stallone, who I think is an asshole". Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

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Short | Sport

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User Reviews

Kaurismäki takes revenge on Stallone, and his cinema of Reaganist propaganda
25 April 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Rocky films are ripe for parody. Just that single image of the blundering, Neolithic I'talian stereotype - draped in stars and stripes, shaking a fist for democracy - would make for genius satire in itself, if it wasn't for the fact that Stallone actually means it. This is something that noted Finish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki picks up on for this entertaining lampoon, in which he takes the absurdities of the Rocky series and turns them into sketches of almost Chaplinesque comedy. The film follows the typical format of many of the Rocky sequels, in particular, the lamentable Rocky IV (1985), with the inhabitants of a small, eastern-European village choosing, almost at random, a local simpleton to take on the supposedly greatest heavyweight champion of the world as he breezes in for a punishing grudge match. The humour of the film comes directly from Kaurismäki's sardonic subversion of the Rocky iconography, giving us an antagonist who turns out to be a naturally gifted fighter, despite little to no training, and a central hero recast as a weasel-like pipsqueak surrounded by a business-savvy entourage, chauffeured around in a vintage convertible Cadillac, and forced to keep in shape on the exercise bike of his local gym.

With Rocky VI (1986), Kaurismäki turns in what is essentially a silent film with musical accompaniment; however, instead of tinkling pianos and vintage show tunes, we here have the jarring, eighties style, industrial pop music of the newly formed Leningrad Cowboys. This turns the film into a prolonged musical montage, which is fitting, when you consider the fact that by the time we got to Rocky III (1982) the series had already descended into a collection of repetitive montage sequences and pop video storytelling. Admittedly, at just shy of nine-minutes in length, the film should only really be viewed as something of a short-sketch, and certainly not on a par with the filmmaker's greater work, such as Hamlet Goes Business (1987) and Ariel (1988).

The nadir of the Stallone's series is undoubtedly the aforementioned Rocky IV, in which the plucky underdog travels to a cardboard cut-out version of Russian and teaches the Soviet Union a thing or two about what it means to be an American. The film is rife with the usual clichés and endearingly over-earnest approach to characters and their relationships that can be found in all parts of the series, but this time being pushed even further into the realms of parody by the appropriation of the Reagan administrations key concerns regarding the cold war and the anti-Russian sentiment present in the two-dimensional characters, pushing the whole thing further into the realms of white-bread propaganda. Admittedly, it never quite crosses into the more shocking realms of Rambo III (1988), in which an oiled Republican killing machine indulges in a series of homo-erotic torture-sequences, whilst once again fighting those pesky reds for freedom alongside an American-armed Afghanistan. A somewhat ironic turn of events when you consider the later actions of September 11th, 2001 and indeed, the subject matter of Stallone's most recent incarnation of the cycle, the simply-titled Rambo (2008).

Kaurismäki claims that the film is his "revenge against Sylvester Stallone" who he considers to be "an asshole". Whether or not we take Kaurismäki word-for-word on this is debatable - given the fact that the filmmaker is fairly infamous for his derisive wit and deadpan sense of humour - though clearly, you could see why a filmmaker with Kaurismäki's concerns would reject the approach of someone like Stallone, and in particular, his personal politics of this era. Kaurismäki's Rocky film doesn't share the look of the actual series, instead fitting nicely between Calamari Union (1985) and the aforementioned Hamlet Goes Business, with the black and white cinematography, B-film iconography and the appearance of many of his most iconic collaborators, including Silu Seppala, Sakari Kuosmanen and the late Matti Pellonpää, to name just a few.

Ultimately, the film is an enjoyable and comical indulgence on Kaurismäki's part; one that will no doubt entertain as many people as it infuriates - though I'm sure long-term admirers of the filmmaker will find much to enjoy from the film's absurdist abstractions and gleefully deadpan approach to parody. Others will perhaps see it as something of a triviality, or indeed, a glorified music video. As it happens, I tend to prefer some of Kaurismäki's actual music videos over the film in question; in particular the Leningrad Cowboys' videos for These Boots (Finnish hillbillies riffing on Godard's Week End, 1967) and Those Were the Days (black and white Parisian boozing and allusions to Robert Bresson), though really, they're all worth experiencing if you can track them down online. Rocky VI isn't essential Kaurismäki, though it is a fine work of parody and a sort-of satire on the A to B conventions of 80's mainstream cinema. If you're already a fan of this particular filmmaker through works such as Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989), Juha (1999) and The Man Without a Past (2002), or indeed, the broader conventions of silent comedy, then this short work will certainly raise the odd, wry smile.


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