Lessons From Rocky IV

My favorite installment in the Rocky movie series is Rocky IV. For the uninitiated, the film, starring Sylvester Stallone, who incidentally, is one of my favorite actors and writers, was made in 1985. The whole series in fact, presents for me a source of encouragement, because it deals with the life of a nobody, who through sheer determination overcomes all obstacles to rise to the top of his field, in this case, boxing.

Having watched this film for the umpteenth time, late last week, the Lord had revealed three truths contained in this film. I will now present them to you.

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall - Proverbs 16:18.

This deals with Apollo Creed’s issue. Creed, played by Carl Weathers, was the Heavyweight Champion that Rocky fought in the first two films. His character, I believe was patterned after Muhammad Ali, not only in physical skill, but possessed a tremendous ego as well. Rocky wins the title from Creed in the second movie, with Rocky and Apollo becoming friends in the third movie, which led to Creed training Rocky to defeat Clubber Lang played by Mr. T, after the death of Rocky’s original manager Mickey, portrayed by the great Burgess Meredith.

Rocky’s dethroning of Creed did not set well with Apollo’s humongous ego. He misses the limelight, and the cheer of the crowd, and when the opportunity to get back into the public’s eye arose with a bout originally meant as an exhibition fight pitting Rocky against Russian superboxer Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, he jumped at the chance.

To make a long story short, Drago kills Creed in the ring, but it wasn’t the Russian’s massive fists, but Apollo’s pride that killed him. He knew he had no chance of defeating his larger, stronger opponent, and rather than allow Rocky to throw in the towel, he was willing to go out as a martyr, which included leaving his beautiful wife, played by Sylvia Meals, a widow in order to save face, and to look the fallen hero to the world.

And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household - Matthew 10:36

Adrian (Talia Shire) went from her brother Paulie’s (Burt Young) doormat of a sister, to a beautiful, self-assertive woman, and her husband Rocky’s “rock”. She stood by him in all facets of his career, from punch-drunk “bum”, to Heavyweight Champion of the World. Even in Rocky’s bouts with self-doubt, she was there to put him back on track. She is the quintessential wife: Loving, Long-suffering, full of wisdom.

There is a scene in the movie that marks the first time she didn’t stand by her man. It’s one of my favorite scenes in which Rocky comes home in the evening after announcing his plan to fight Drago. He enters the foyer, looking worn out, and Adrian’s standing at the top of the stairs. Apparently Rocky did not consult her about his decision, however she had found out earlier when she returned home to be mobbed by media people. After she tries unsuccessfully to talk Rocky out of it, she reminds him of how strong and powerful his opponent is, and ends the conversation with “you can’t win!” This is the first time she has spoken to him like that, and it sent shockwaves through both him and me. Rocky tells her that maybe he can’t win, but he’s willing to take all Drago dishes out, even if it means his death. This time, Rocky had to take on another foe -- his wife.

This is reminiscent of the Story of Job, when after having lost everything he owned, Job was admonished by his wife to curse God and die. (Job 2:9)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends - John 15:13.

Jesus spoke this passage concerning himself; to him, we were no more servants, but his friends that he would -- and did lay his life down for. In the scope of the movie, when Rocky cradled Apollo’s lifeless body in his arms, and glared at the emotionless Drago, it became clear what he had to do. Rocky could have just simply buried his best friend, and let it go at that, but instead, he was willing to put his life on the line to avenge Apollo’s death -- through personal upheaval with Adrian, the torturous training in less than ideal conditions in Russia, and finally to stand against and ultimately defeat the seemingly invincible opponent that killed his friend.

It's films like this that provide hidden gems if you look for them, rather than to be viewed just for its entertainment value.

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