Rocky IV is 1980’s USA and Russia rivalry at its finest on the big screen. When Rocky faces his greatest challenge ever, fans of his competition’s country were in awe of his grit and tenacity.
Not to be taken lightly, Ivan Drago was ahead of his time with the advanced technology of the day creating a super athlete. Dolph Lundgren’s iconic character could be seeing a revamp of sorts according to the actor. With the release of a director’s cut, newly subtitled “Rocky vs. Drago” — not to mention a feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary — “Rocky IV” has been back in the news recently.
One of the most memorable lines from the film included Drago bluntly saying with a cold heart, “If he dies, he dies,” in reference to his brutal smackdown of former world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed, who at the time wanted one more shot in the bright lights after being in retirement due to Rocky Balboa’s career ending defeat on Rocky II.
In “Rocky IV,” Drago would face off against Creed’s friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, who also served as writer-director), in the grudge match of the century. An older version of Drago made his reemergence in “Creed II,” where his son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu), traded blows with Creed’s son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan).
Lundgren also told The Hollywood Reporter that “Creed II” originally had a scene with a brief rematch between Rocky and Drago. It was left on the cutting room floor, but according to Lundgren, there have been discussions of a Drago spinoff at MGM. Of the deleted rematch, he first said:
“I thought it was a good moment. It was also a fan moment. It was a quick little fight, and I thought it worked. But the director [Caple] and MGM felt that it was extraneous and that it didn’t add anything. By the way, I think there’s some talk about doing a whole spinoff on Drago with MGM. So you may get more of that.”
Giving Drago the Cobra Kai Treatment
The idea of a Drago spinoff brings to mind the current Netflix series, “Cobra Kai,” which acts as a sequel to the 1980s “Karate Kid” movies, told from the perspective of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the antagonist who became a victim of a crane kick to the face in the first movie. There’s already a significant connection between the “Rocky” franchise and “The Karate Kid” franchise. John G. Avildsen directed the original “Rocky” and the first three “Karate Kid” movies.
As The Hollywood Reporter states, “Creed II” was able to humanize Drago a little more so that he wasn’t just a cartoon Cold War villain anymore. After years languishing in direct-to-video movies (back when skipping the theater was a sign of less quality), Lundgren made something of a late-career resurgence in the 2010s with his role in “The Expendables” movies and “Aquaman.” He’s set to appear in “The Expendables 4” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” and if you close your eyes and say a Russian prayer, maybe you’ll see him in a Drago spinoff, too.
Forget Marvel and forget the Fast and the Furious. The greatest long-running series of all time belongs to Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky films. Since 1976, viewers have followed both Stallone and the Italian Stallion through ups and downs that can only come with over 40 years of life and experience. Rocky is also a uniquely American story of opportunity paired with the determination.