2. Rocky IV
What Eighties movie could lay claim to single-handedly bringing down the Iron Curtain? Only 1985â€²s Rocky IV, which prompted a standing ovation not just from Mikhail Gorbachev and his aides in the movie as they listened to the eponymous hero’s victory speech (“If I can change, you can change, everybody can change!”) but doubtless also from the entire Soviet movie-watching public, who must surely have realized that West was best after this.
Yet, despite an epic final 14-round slugfest, in which Rocky upsets seemingly insurmountable odds to overcome superhuman steroid pincushion that is Ivan Drago (played by six foot four inches and 260 pounds of Dolph Lundgren) it was during the movie’s training montage sequence that we saw the truest picture of East vs West, shown through seamless intercutting and to the squeals of “Hearts on Fire.”
While a beanie-d Rocky outruns the KGB in the deep snow, Drago sprints around an indoor track in a leotard; as Rocky hauls a horses and cart out of a snow drift, Drago pumps iron like a gay porn star in a high-tech gym; while Rocky carries and chops logs, Drago’s veins pulse as he pushes massive weights; and as the Italian Stallion cuts down a tree, Drago fells sparring partners, reminding we wide-eyed watchers how he killed Apollo Creed earlier in the movie, uttering practically the only words of English he knew, “If he dies… he dies…” It’s a revenge mission in enemy territory for our boy: Rocky is the mountain-climbing Spartan, Drago the human fleshlamp. If the roles had been reversed and this had been a Soviet Cold War propaganda film, it would have been deemed too extreme by the censors.