Even though it first hit theaters in 1985, Rocky IV still ranks as one of the highest-grossing sports dramas ever made after earning $300 million at the box office, and it’s remained a beloved fan favorite ever since.
It might not be the best installment in the saga of the Italian Stallion, but it’s damn sure the most fun, packed with so many memorable moments that audiences love to this day, whether it’s SICO the robot butler, James Brown singing Apollo Creed to the ring for his final bout, the mountainous montage set to the wondrous “Heart’s on Fire”, or any of the other delightfully cheesy moments in a movie packed full of them.
However, during an interview from behind the scenes documentary The Making of Rocky vs. Drago, Stallone admitted that he made plenty of mistakes on the film, in how he let himself be influenced by the trends of the time period.
“In the 80s, it was a very transitional time for filmmaking and TV, where MTV started to form how people viewed things. Quick cuts, flash, smoke on the screen, backlit – a lot of that Flashdance look. And I thought “you know what, I want to go there.” And I got very caught up in the kind of like, superficial kitschiness at the time, like the robot, the music and some of the stuff, what was the hit tunes. And then I went back and go, ‘this is kind of a sad story.’ I lose my best friend. Drago himself is a tragic character: he’s the Frankenstein monster, he’s been put together, and then when he outlasts his usefulness is just in the scrap heap.
So I tried to find all those moments – little bits where I talked to my son, where I threw in an ad-lib about how you’ve got to do things for yourself because that’s what will drive you crazy when you get older. So those little moments, to me, really were lacking in the first one…It was considered the oddball, even though it made the most money. It was like the tacky montage. Now I want to bring it back into the cinema and lose that stigma and go ‘this is a valid drama.’ It’s not just a montage of silliness.”
Shying away from the inherent camp of Rocky IV would be a mistake because that’s one of the major reasons why people love it so much, but by adding 40 minutes of new footage and trimming some of the fat, Stallone is able to give the people the best of both worlds.