Friday, September 28, 2012

Top Five Things I Love About The Rocky 4 Training Montage

I love Rocky movies.  All of them.  Well, with the exception of 5 and 6.  But aside from those, I love all of them.  The best part about Rocky movies?  The training montages. Easily.  High energy moments put to  perfect music in an effort to prime the audience for the respective films' climactic fights.  And it works everytime.  Do I ever cue one on YouTube when I either need a pick-me-up or a laugh?  You bet I do.  And my favorite montage?  No doubt the training montage in Rocky IV.

Rocky IV is hardly just another Rocky movie. It's one of the last, great vestiges of Cold War propaganda.  As we all know, Rocky IV kicks into high gear after the blonde Russian beanpole, Ivan Drago, murders Rocky's friend, Apollo, during an exhibition bout. Then, in front of a crowd of thousands, he says ...

If he dies...he dies. he's done it a thousand times before. Oh Ivan, you silly heartless, Commie prick.  (By the way, because of this film, I thought most Russians were blond and blue eyed.  Little did I know Dolph Lundgren was a Swede, as was his on-screen wife, Brigitte Nielsen.  I also figured all Russian's were robotic and up to no good.  Though I suppose that's what living in America during the Cold War was all about.)

Anyway, to avenge his friend's death, Rocky agrees to fight Drago for no money and, for some reason, eschews US training facilities that are available to, ya know, the heavyweight champion of the world, and decides to rough it in a barn somewhere in what must be Siberia.  Because, ya know, why not put yourself at a further disadvantage in the name of ... what exactly?  On a side note, wouldn't this fight have made for the absolute greatest HBO 24/7 of all time?  The contrast of Drago's high tech training, and Rocky's old world style, would have been much more interesting than watching Manny Pacquaio run up a hill somewhere outside Vegas.
Now, I haven't watched Rocky 4 in its entirety for some time, but I've certainly watched this...

six thousand times.   And it's beautiful. There's SO much I like about this.  Pretty much every frame.  But since I have to follow my own rules,  here's my Top 5 favorite things about THE ROCKY IV TRAINING MONTAGE.

5) Rocky Hits A Speedbag ... As Guy Milks A Cow (0:51 seconds)

Yeah.  I wish I had something more to say here, but "yeah" is the only thing that comes to mind.. I think the image speaks for itself.   

4) Rocky Outruns A Mercedes (2:49)

You know how you know you're ready for the fight of your life? When you can outrun a Mercedes driven by a couple of dudes in Russian Hats, cause them to hit a snowbank, and then be all..

..without losing your balance on the same icy road. Not to mention, it appears that Rock might be running in a pair of jeans, which seems like an odd choice of athletic gear in general, let alone while training in a Russian winter.  I can't remember the subplot that lead to this moment, or why he was being coveted at all, but I wish it just existed as a random event to prove that Rocky was ready to defend America's honor.   

3) Rocky Stumbles Up A Mountain And Shouts "Drago."

I've seen the movie 128 Hours.  You know the one about the hippie who goes hiking alone, only to cut his arm off using a dull knife after getting trapped in a crevasse.  Well, knowing that, Rocky stumbling along the top of a steep cliff in the name of cardio is one shit idea. Probably a bit unnecessary to cheat death when a simple jog would have done, but since his last run involved a car chase, I guess he had to up the ante. Though why Rocky would risk breaking a limb and dying from hypothermia when he had a fight only days later is unknown.  He's just that much of a badass.  Either way, I bet if Stallone remastered this print, and re-released the movie, he would CGI some hungry wolves chasing him, only for them to fall off the edge before shouting the signature "Drago!" 

And how much you willing to bet this was the moment where Sly concepted Cliffhanger?  That's probably why he's so inspired by the end.  It's a vast expanse of dollar signs. 

2) Rocky's Crazy Ab Workout Thing (1:15)

I'm kinda convinced Stallone created Rocky IV just to show off that he can do ...

...that.  Why do I think this?  Because this shot basically lasts for 16 seconds.  Yes, count that to yourself now, I'll wait.  Long time, right?  Oh wait, I lie, because the shot is actually intercut with the other reason I think Stallone assumes this is the most impressive thing in the world.

C'mon, Adrian's staring at him like she's a tiger and he's fresh meat.  Now, remember, Stallone directed this movie.  So he told her, "Yo Adrian, now what I'm doin' here, this is the most impressive thing you've ever seen.  Make a face that suggests that this is the most impressive thing you've ever seen. Or I'll find someone who can."  I can picture him shooting this moment about 600 times in an effort to capture the perfect expression. 

And finally...

1) The Drago Picture (2:28)

You know those old movies where a woman has a black and white photo of her soldier boyfriend that she keeps attached to her mirror?  And she'll look at it longingly, then at herself in the mirror with some sort of self reflection?  "Oh, how I miss him so?"  "What will I do without him?" "This is the man of my dreams, I wonder what he's thinking right now?" Well...what's on Rocky's mirror?

A black and white photo of the ever-cut, handsome Ivan Drago, of course. Which makes me wonder if this is a story about avenging a friend's death, or one about a jilted lover (he is handsome, after all).  But the best part is Stallone angrily ripping the picture off the frame only to reveal his own stern face in the mirror.


You can just picture Rocky explaining this in a 24/7 documentary:

"You know, I just put the picture up to remind me, ya know?  Who I'm fightin, what I'm fightin for, ya know?  But I got so angry lookin' at it, I had to rip it off so I could stare at my sweet beard."

And sweet it is. 


  1. With regards to #4, the subplot was he was in Communist Russia, and the broskis in the Benz were his state escorts assigned to follow his every move. Because included in the rainbows and unicorns that is communism there's also an escort service (but not that kind). Oh and gulags and mass killings. But anyway...

    Yay welcome back the blog! And great list.

  2. That's right! Could he not outrun them before? haha like how he couldn't catch the chicken in Rocky 2?

    "You're gonna eat lightnin...and you're gonna crap thunder"