Writer/Director Sylvester Stallone has announced an exciting, new Director’s Cut of arguably the most popular installment of the Rocky franchise, Rocky IV (1985), where Rocky Balboa travels to the former Soviet Union to avenge the death of his friend, former heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed. There is undoubtedly something incredibly mysterious and distinctive about the visual appeal and vibrational feel of Rocky IV. Perhaps, it’s the color schemes and the compositional framing of cinematography by Bill Butler (The Conversation, Jaws) that bring extra attention to the picture, or the music montages blaring “Burning Heart” by Survivor, “Hearts on Fire” by John Cafferty, “War/Fanfare” by Vince DiCola, “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper, “Living in America” by James Brown and an epic “Training Montage” piece by Vince DiCola that make this fourth installment stand out from the rest.
Maybe it’s the towering physique of Dolph Lundgren portraying the quintessential villain, Ivan Drago, who’s backed by the entire Soviet Union amid the Cold War, why this film stands out so much. Or quite possibly because Sly Stallone was at the fully blossomed, prime age of 39 and probably the leanest shape of his career. It’s important to note that the original musical score on Rocky IV is composed by Vince DiCola – the other 5 installments of the franchise are composed by Bill Conti (excluding Ludwig Goransson on Creed I/II). This musical fact alone differentiates Rocky IV from the rest of the saga. Rocky IV exists in the minds and hearts of all Americans as the definitive film of not just the entire series, but the 1980s. Sylvester Stallone has admitted in the past that after the success of Rocky (1976), the story was meant to be a part of a trilogy – which means that he was planning on stopping after Rocky III (1983). It’s not a consensus, but unanimous, that we’re all grateful for Stallone continuing his journey with the character of Rocky Balboa, by making a fourth installment that has been ingrained in our hearts and embedded in our minds since the mid ’80s.
Via the legendary artists’ Instagram page, Sly Stallone promises a new cut coming very “soon”. Our guess for its release should be sometime during Thanksgiving or Christmas, considering how Rocky IV (1985), Rocky V (1990) and Rocky Balboa (2006) were all released during the holiday seasons. MGM – Metro/Goldwyn Meyer – has granted Stallone the opportunity to trim his darlings by leaving unwanted footage on the cutting room floor and replacing it with never-before-seen imagery with an all new Director’s Cut. Rocky IV fans should be ecstatic by this announcement, considering it has been 35 years since the films initial release; the coming of a digitally remastered, newly edited version of a film we love so dearly is awe-strikingly good. The thought of Sly Stallone sitting down in an editing room and dipping into archived footage is unbelievable.
A Director’s Cut is always a treat because the filmmaker behind the viewfinder has gained decades of wisdom; when they revisit their old film, they bring an unbelievably fresh perspective to what should be included and excluded from the final cut. The best example of this is Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) which was recently released in a remastered 4K, Final Cut. Rocky IV grossed $300, 473, 716 worldwide on a $30-million budget, which makes it the highest grossing installment of the franchise. Even with inflation adjustments, Rocky Balboa (2006) comes in far second with a $155, 929, 020 worldwide gross on a $24-million budget. Rocky IV is hands down, without a shadow of doubt, the most popular of the franchise and its about to get even bigger and better than ever before.
However, the Director’s Cut has sparked some controversy upon the Twitter-verse, where fans are disappointed with the wipeout of the famous robot that shocked audiences in the 1985 theatrical cut, but Stallone is confident in his decision with removing it from the film altogether. In Rocky IV, Balboa’s brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) is gifted with a female robot that makes his wish her command. The fact that Stallone initially implemented this into the film (being that he was the writer/director) goes to show how far ahead of his time he was, by creating a robot that talks and does what you tell it to do. With great discourse about robotic simulation in 2020, for this to be in a film from 1985 makes it plausible in contemporary times, even if Sly Stallone had decided to keep it in the new Director’s Cut.
Nevertheless, the robot draws away from the film’s grave seriousness, even if that might be difficult for some fans to admit. Sly Stallone has reportedly stated that the robot has been cut for good and sent into a “junkyard”; that it’s “been melted down and is now a beer can.” This has fans reacting outrageously on Twitter; but these fans must realize that Stallone created the ‘bot – which means he can delete it, as he so pleases. Sly Stallone promises for this Director’s Cut to have more “soul” and be more “impactful”. These are strong words for a film that already has soul and impact; the thought of a new cut giving it more of what it already has, promises this updated version to be a far superior film. With hopes of a 2K transfer from the original film negative on Blu-ray, Rocky IV fans should rub their palms and rejoice, because it sounds like, come Holiday 2020, we’ll have a new Blu-ray disc to add to our film collection. What’s better than a Director’s Cut of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky IV? It’s the most ‘80s installment of the Rocky Saga and arguably the most mysteriously unique chapter that stands on a level of its own when compared to the franchise’s 7 other installments (including Creed and Creed II).
I don’t know about you, but I’ll be first in line to purchase this.