Though generally considered a superior sequel by fans, Rocky IV suffers from a vibe of superfluousness that’s exacerbated by the inclusion of distinctly dated elements and a record number of musical montages (there’s even one consisting almost entirely of clips from previous installments). This time around, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is forced back into the ring after a deadly newcomer (Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago) kills Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) during what was supposed to be a friendly exhibition match. It becomes clear fairly early on that there’s simply not enough plot within Rocky IV to comfortably sustain a 91 minute running time (hence the aforementioned montages), and although Lundgren is quite effective as the ultra-sinister baddie (“I must break you!”), Stallone’s far-from-subtle screenplay ultimately does more damage than good (something that’s particularly noticeable in the film’s strangely jingoistic conclusion). Still, the Rocky/Drago matchup remains one of the most effective within the series (it’s hard to go wrong with a bout based entirely on revenge).
**1/2 out of ****