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Rocky IV (1985) - Plot Summary Poster

(1985)

Plot

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Summaries

  • Rocky Balboa proudly holds the world heavyweight boxing championship, but a new challenger has stepped forward: Drago, a six-foot-four, 261-pound fighter who has the backing of the Soviet Union.

  • Rocky Balboa accompanies his friend Apollo Creed to the ring in a boxing match against a Russian Boxer named Ivan Drago. Drago is too strong for Creed, and unfortunately kills him in his match. Balboa blames himself for Creed's death and is determined to defeat Drago in a boxing match. He gains the help of Creed's former manager, Duke and travels to U.S.S.R. to take on Drago.

  • When Rocky's old friend Apollo Creed is killed during a fight with a superfit Russian boxer, Ivan Drago, Rocky blames himself for the death when he could have thrown in the towel before the crucial moment. Fuelled by the Russian's arrogance, Rocky arranges a fight with the new champion, only this time in Russia.

  • Heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Balboa accompanies his friend Apollo Creed, who will be in a match against Ivan Drago, a Russian boxer who has been scientifically trained, using high tech equipment. When Drago kills Apollo in the match, Rocky blames himself for Apollo's death, and promises to get revenge on Drago in the ring, in the name of Apollo and the United States. Against the wishes of his wife Adrian, Rocky is off to the USSR to take on Drago, and hires Apollo's former manager Duke to help him prepare for the fight. While Drago enhances his amazing punching power using high-tech equipment, Rocky toughens up under the guidance of Duke in a compound in the frozen Soviet countryside, with his mind set on destroying Drago.

  • The "Iron Curtain" is starting to come down around the Soviet Union under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev. A Soviet boxer named Ivan Drago, nicknamed "The Siberian Express", comes to the United States with his wife, a Russian champion swimmer and coach for a guest match. Drago is a superbly conditioned boxer who has been scientifically trained in the USSR, and he & his coach propose a fight against Rocky Balboa. Rocky's former adversary, Apollo Creed decides to take on Drago despite having been out of the ring for several years. Creed unwisely taunts Drago before the match, and after the first round, Drago issues a prophetic warning to Creed: "You will lose." Unfortunately the warning comes true and Creed dies following a pounding by the Siberian Express. When death threats are made against the Russian boxer, he returns to the USSR and states if there is to be a match between Balboa & Drago, it will be in the USSR. To honor Creed's memory, Rocky takes the Soviets up on their challenge and goes to Siberia to train for the match against the "Siberian Express", that will take place in Moscow on Christmas Day, in front of a hostile audience.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • In 1985, Ivan Drago (Lundgren), a muscular 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet boxer, arrives in the United States with his wife Ludmilla (Nielsen), and a team of trainers from the USSR and Cuba. His manager, Nicolai Koloff (Pataki), takes every opportunity to promote Drago's athleticism as a hallmark of Soviet superiority. The press is invited to the Soviets' highly technical temporary training facility, Koloff explains how all the equipment they've brought with them has turned Drago into a perfect athlete. They also demonstrate with an impact monitor how much force Drago packs in a single punch; more than twice the average for an American boxer. When asked about reports of widespread steroid use among Soviet athletes, Drago's wife denies any involvement by her husband.

    Motivated by patriotism and an innate desire to prove himself, Apollo Creed (Weathers) challenges Drago to an exhibition bout. Rocky (Stallone) has reservations, but agrees to train Apollo despite his misgivings about the fight. He asks Apollo whether the fight is against the Russian, or "you against you".

    During a press conference regarding the match, hostility is created between Apollo and Drago's respective camps. Apollo himself trumps up his anger and the Cold War rivalry between the USSR and the United States, confiding in Rocky moments later that it was all an act. The Soviets are less than amused.

    The exhibition match takes place at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The ring, with Drago already standing in it, is brought up through the arena floor to a loudly hostile and booing crowd. Apollo enters the ring in an over-the-top patriotic entrance with James Brown performing "Living in America" complete with showgirls. The bout starts tamely with Apollo landing several punches that have no effect on the Russian. It soon turns serious though, as Drago, with a shouted command by Koloff, starts to retaliate with devastating effect. By the end of the first round, Rocky and Apollo's trainer Duke (Burton) plead with him to give up, but Apollo refuses, gravely telling Rocky not to stop the fight. Drago continues to pummel him in the second round, and despite Duke begging Rocky to throw in the towel, he reluctantly honors Apollo's wish. Eventually, Drago lands a final punch that knocks Apollo to the ground, killing him. In the immediate aftermath, Drago displays no sense of remorse commenting to the assembled media: "If he dies... he dies."

    Incensed by Drago's cold indifference and feeling a deep sense of guilt, Rocky decides to avenge Apollo's death by agreeing to fight Drago in the Soviet Union on Christmas Day in an unsanctioned 15-round bout. His wife, Adrian, strenuously objects, saying that Rocky simply can't beat the bigger and stronger Russian and the fight will kill him. Rocky says it's in his nature to avenge his friend.

    Rocky flies to the USSR without Adrian, setting up his training base in Krasnogourbinsk, a (fictional) remote village in Siberia with only Duke and brother-in-law Paulie (Young) to accompany him. He is also closely monitored by two KGB agents. Drago trains with his team's advanced setup and receives steroid injections. Rocky, on the other hand trains unconventionally by splitting heavy logs, chopping down trees, throwing large rocks, pulls an overloaded snow sleigh, jogs in heavy snow and treacherous icy conditions and climbs a mountain. Duke also coaches Rocky to ignore the intense pain several of his training exercises are causing him. Adrian (Shire) arrives unexpectedly to give Rocky her support after initially refusing to travel to Russia because of her doubts on his fighting chances. Her presence increases Rocky's focus and enhances his training.

    At the bout, Drago is introduced with an elaborate, patriotic ceremony that puts the home crowd squarely in Drago's corner. In contrast to his fight with Apollo, Drago immediately goes on the offensive and Rocky takes a fierce pounding. Rocky comes back toward the end of the second round; a right hook inflicts a cut below Drago's left eye that silences the crowd and prompts Rocky to continue punching Drago even after the bell rings. While Duke and Paulie cheer Rocky for his heroism, they remind him that Drago is not a machine, but merely a man. Ironically, Drago comments that Rocky "is not human, he is like a piece of iron" with his own corner reprimanding him for being "weak" in comparison to the "small American."

    The two boxers continue their battle over the next dozen rounds, with Rocky holding his ground despite Drago's powerful punches. His resilience rallies the previously hostile Soviet crowd to his side. When Drago's Soviet government representative berates his athlete for being weak, Drago picks him up and shoves him off the edge of the ring, stating he fights for himself. When they match before the final round, Drago shows newfound respect for Rocky, saying "To the end."

    Rocky finally takes down Drago in the last round, winning by knockout to the shock of the Soviet Politburo members watching the fight. A bloody and battered Rocky gives a victory speech, acknowledging how the local crowd's disdain of him turned to respect. He compares it to the animosity between Soviets and Americans, and says that seeing him and Drago fight was "better than 20 million," implying war between their two countries. The commentator translates that part of the speech incorrectly to Russian by saying that "its better than 20 million dollars". Rocky finally declares, "If I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change!" The Soviet General Secretary stands and passionately applauds Rocky, and his aides follow suit. Rocky ends his speech by wishing his son a Merry Christmas, and throws his arms into the air in victory as the crowd applauds.

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