It’s hard to find something more ’80s than Rocky IV. The movie is an overwrought Reagan-era allegory for the capitalist-communist conflict that dominated world politics for the better part of four decades. Beyond its dated absurdity, however, the movie is still tons of fun, ripe with hubris, shocking death, montages, and the most epic boxing match of the Rocky series. In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Nov. 27, 1985, here are some little-known facts about Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) vs. Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren).
Paulie’s robot was created to help children with autism.
One of the funniest, oddest things about the film is the robot Adrian’s ne’er-do-well brother gets for his birthday. It serves him beers, speaks with digitized elocution, and cheers when Rocky wins the Cold War. The robot, called Sico, wasn’t created to only fetch bottles; it was built to help children with autism. As noted by Philly.com, before the making of Rocky IV, International Robotics founder Robert Doornick had appeared on a talk show to discuss his work with children and Sico. Stallone reached out to Doornick to learn more about the robot, as his son Seargeoh has autism.
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Ivan Drago barely says anything. Like, almost nothing.
Two of Drago’s lines are now classics. First, after killing Apollo Creed: “If he dies, he dies.” Second, before going 15 rounds with Rocky: “I must break you.” Thus comprises nearly 20 percent of every word Dolph Lundgren utters in his starring, non-Bond debut. Drago says 46 words in 91 minutes. That’s barely one every two minutes. More than 40 percent of his dialogue is spoken from right before the final Rocky bout to right before the last round. The longest string of speech comes after the Apollo fight: “I cannot be defeated. I defeat all man. Soon, I defeat real champion. If he dies, he dies.” He’s not onscreen as much as Rocky or Paulie, but Drago truly didn’t mince words.
Dolph Lundgren was WAY too physical.
Lundgren may have been a Hollywood novice in only his second movie, but he was a legitimate physical specimen. And if his towering shadow wasn’t imposing enough, the black-belt fighter was equipped to cause bodily harm. Carl Weathers had been a professional football player, but he wasn’t thrilled with Lundgren. He was once thrown “three feet” into the corner of the ring by the Swede and threatened to quit the film, according to Stallone. That’s nothing compared to Sly’s incident. As he sparred with Lundgren, Stallone took a punch that caused his heart to slam against his breastbone. It swelled and caused his blood pressure to rocket. Stallone was flown to a Los Angeles hospital and kept in the ICU for eight days.
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Despite mixed reviews, it was the highest-grossing sports movie EVER for 24 years.
Rotten Tomatoes ranks Rocky IV as the second-worst reviewed Rocky film of the six, racking up a meek critical approval rating of 38 percent. Here is a list of RT scores:
- Rocky: 93%
- Rocky II: 73%
- Rocky III: 61%
- Rocky IV: 38%
- Rocky V: 26%
- Rocky Balboa: 76%
- Creed: 92%
There’s a big, post-Rocky III dip before a swift rise to Rocky Balboa, and a gigantic jump for Creed. The chart looks much different when money is tallied. The following list is for domestic box office gross, as all worldwide numbers were not available.
- Rocky: $117.2 million
- Rocky II: $85.2 million
- Rocky III: $124.2 million
- Rocky IV: $127.9 million
- Rocky V: $41.0 million
- Rocky Balboa: $70.3 million
- Creed: TBD
U-S-A! Not only that, Rocky IV remained the highest-grossing sports movie, outlasting Field of Dreams, Major League, and White Men Can’t Jump — for nearly 15 years. Despite not ending the Cold War, The Waterboy with Adam Sandler finally took the box-office belt from Rocky IV, though the fourquel remains the No. 3 biggest sports movie of the last 40 years when adjusted for inflation. The first two films on that list: Rocky and Rocky III.
Creed is out now. Find out more about how the new film uses the iconic Rocky score below.