Kevin: With another Fourth of July upon us, everyone will have their own way of celebrating America’s independence today: spending time with family, hitting the beach, lighting some fireworks, getting drunk and punching a random British person. I’m sure I’ll be doing all those things at some point today, but first I will, as I do every year, remind myself of one of the best things that this little experiment called America has produced in its 241 years of existence: Apollo Creed in “Rocky IV”:
In “Rocky IV,” Apollo (Carl Weathers) comes out of retirement to take on Soviet boxing champ Ivan Drago, whose fearsome size and strength are attributed in part to blood doping and anabolic steroids (thank god no American athletes would ever stoop so low). Of course the fact that Ivan is played by a young Dolph Lundgren might also have something to do with it. Either way, despite the risks of going up against this younger and dangerous rival in the ring, Apollo feels that it’s his patriotic duty because he’s tired of America “looking bad” compared to the Russians (apparently he didn’t read the news about a certain victory by John Rambo against both the Soviets and Viet Cong a few months earlier).
But before trying to defeat him with his fists, Apollo is magnanimous enough to offer Drago an opportunity to see America at its finest, which in this case means cheesy Las Vegas casinos, scantily clad showgirls, Apollo cavorting in a Stars and Stripes robe and top hat, and James freaking Brown singing our country’s praises in “Living in America.” I can’t believe that Drago didn’t up and defect after just hearing the beginning of the song, with Brown highlighting America’s superior transportation infrastructure with lyrics such as “Super highways coast to coast/Just easy to get anywhere/On the transcontinental overload/Just slide behind the wheel”:
Unfortunately we all know how the bout actually ends, and it’s one of the reasons I don’t like “Rocky IV” as much as many others, because I love Carl Weathers as Apollo and I hate to see him die. Seeing he and Rocky finally team up as friends is one of the reasons why “Rocky III” will always be my favorite of the sequels by far, but the good news at least is that “Rocky IV” (which already clocks in at less than 90 minutes) contains a significant amount of footage recycled from that and the previous two films as well.
But Apollo’s death was not in vain, as it spurred Rocky to take on Drago in the heart of Mother Russia on Christmas Day, defeating the lab-manufactured Soviet monster thanks to the power of good old fashioned American training montages:
After amazingly getting the entire arena of brainwashed Russian citizens to chant his name in victory, Rocky could have easily staged a coup and taken over the entire country by New Year’s. Instead he knew that change had to come from within, which is why his gracious “Everyone can change!” speech at the end directly led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War just a few years later (look it up people):
Apollo may have died in the ring, but as a “warrior” (as he referred to himself earlier in the film) that’s probably how he would have wanted it. Either way his sacrifice is one that America should never forget, especially on a day like today. Plus he apparently impregnated some chick he was banging on the side without a condom, which eventually lead to the excellent sequel “Creed” 30 years later, so thanks for that as well Apollo.
Now before we begin our holiday festivities, are there any movies the rest of ya’ll on the Tough Guy staff think of when you picture America?
CJ: I would like to talk about America’s greatest export: childhood obesity. Nah I’m kidding, it’s baseball. Maybe.
On this Fourth of July, there are many baseball movies I could talk about. There’s the hilarity of Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn and his boys as they spend a season trying to strip naked a cardboard cutout in “Major League.” I could also talk about Kevin Costner abandoning his family and their farm (they never say how his wife was able to run the farm in his absence) all so he can have a catch with his clearly talentless father in “Field of Dreams.” Or do I go with “Summer Catch,” which is Kevin’s favorite movie of all time?
Mike: When I think of America movies obviously 1989’s “Robot Jox” comes in first place. It’s a film which predicts that in the future after the world is decimated by nuclear war, the surviving nations will now settle their differences the old fashioned way: pitting gigantic machines against one another which resemble “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots” in just about every way imaginable, except one of them has a huge chainsaw dick. It’s straight up USA vs. Russia: