Rocky IV is a 1985 American film written by, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. It is the fourth and most financially successful entry in the Rocky franchise. In the film, Rocky Balboa plans to retire from boxing after regaining his title from Clubber Lang in Rocky III. An unknown amateur boxer from the Soviet Union, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren), makes a bid to enter the U.S. boxing ranks.
The story opens with a flashback of Rocky's rematch against Clubber Lang at the end of the previous film, where Rocky defeated Lang to regain his title. Meanwhile, Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a highly intimidating 6 foot 4 inch, 261 pound Soviet boxer, arrives in America with his wife Ludmilla (Brigitte Nielsen), an Olympic gold medal swimmer, his manager, Nicolai Koloff (Michael Pataki), and a team of trainers headed by grizzled Russian coach Igor Rimsky (George Rogan), and the Cuban Manuel Vega (James "Cannonball" Green) to challenge the best U.S. fighters. His manager shows off the hi-tech equipment which aids in improving Drago's performance, demonstrating Drago throwing punches at a machine that measures superhuman level, at 1850 psi. Motivated by patriotism and an innate desire to prove himself, Apollo is desperate to step back into the ring in an exhibition bout against Drago. A press conference is held to publicise the bout, which begins on affable terms (despite Apollo talking down to his opponent) but quickly changes when Apollo is accused of being a "has been" by Drago's manager. Livid, Apollo loses his temper and tells Drago they'll "finish this in the ring" before abruptly leaving the conference and an unfazed Drago. Rocky has reservations, but trains Apollo for the fight which is supposed to be an exhibition match. It soon turns serious though, as Drago beats Apollo mercilessly. Apollo is in dire straits as the first round is over. Rocky and Duke plead with him to give up, but Apollo refuses to do so, and tells Rocky not to stop the fight no matter what. The second round starts just as the first ended. Rocky considers throwing in the towel but honors Apollo's wish. It turns out to be a tragic decision, as Drago ultimately kills the former champion. Drago displays no sense of remorse, commenting: "If he dies... he dies." Incensed by Drago's cold indifference, Rocky decides to avenge Apollo's death by agreeing to relinquish his title and fight Drago in Russia on Christmas Day in an unsanctioned bout. Supported by Apollo's trainer Duke and his brother-in-law Paulie, he flies to Krasnoyarsk, Soviet Union, to train. To prepare for the fight, Drago uses very high tech equipment and (implied) use of anabolic steroids. Rocky, on the other hand uses a very basic, spartan approach. He throws logs, chops down trees, jogs in thick snow daily and climbs a mountain. When Adrian shows up unexpectedly to give him her support after intially refusing to travel to Russia, Rocky's training becomes more focused and energized than ever before. After intense preparation for both fighters, the two men finally meet in the ring. Much like Apollo before, Drago is introduced with an elaborate, patriotic ceremony that puts the attending audience squarely on the side of Drago, leaving Rocky fiercely booed. In contrast to his fight with Apollo, Drago immediately goes on the offensive, repeatedly pounding Rocky and casually shrugging off his punches. After a pulverizing first round, Rocky comes back toward the end of the second and lands a strong shot that cuts Drago just below his left eye. While Drago is visibly shaken, Rocky is fired up and goes on the offensive, pummeling Drago until, after the bell rings numerous times, Balboa is pulled off his opponent. Drago punches Rocky in revenge after putting him in a headlock, and Balboa lifts up and slams Drago to the ground, their managers splitting up the fight. The commentators say it's like a street fight. While Duke and Paulie cheer Rocky for his heroism, they remind him that Drago is not a machine, but 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." At this point, the fight becomes a fierce battle of wills between the two boxers. Drago, for the most part, holds the upper hand but his confidence drops due to Rocky's seemingly limitless endurance, allowing Rocky to get in under his guard and deliver his own attack. By the fourteenth round, the previously hostile Soviet crowd has been won over by Rocky's determination and is cheering him on. Koloff, fearing retribution from the Soviet General Secretary who resembles Mikhail Gorbachev, goes over to Drago and berates his performance, fiercely urging him to win and shoving his head. Drago's response is to pick up Koloff by the throat with a single hand and throw him to the ground, and adamantly proclaim that he fights only for himself. In the 15th (final) round of the fight, Rocky and Drago trade punch after punch with Rocky eventually knocking Drago out to the shock of the Soviet General Secretary. Victorious, Rocky is swarmed as the crowd floods the ring, lifting Rocky onto their shoulders and draping him in the American flag. A bloody and battered Rocky gives a victory speech, acknowledging the initial and mutual disdain between himself and the once hostile crowd as much as the disdain between Russians and Americans, how they've come to respect and admire each other during the course of the fight which he also says is better than war between their two countries, and how everybody can "change." The 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.