The Count of Monte Fisto

America produced wartime propaganda movies during World War II. They were less patriotic than Rocky IV.

Rocky IV is the template for the purest, truest Hollywood sequels, a movie so ludicrous in its quest to top the previous films, it turns a boxing match into a solution for the real world Cold War. It takes the true “Miracle on Ice” from five years prior and blatantly manipulates that event for its own cause. Whether this conflicts with the tone established in previous Rocky films doesn’t matter; that’s the Hollywood sequel way.

Rocky IV is the template for the purest, truest Hollywood sequels

Yet, because Rocky IV stealthily acknowledges all of this through a sly self-awareness, it rates among the most audience-pleasing third sequels in history. This is the movie where Paulie (Burt Young) falls for a robot servant. It’s where Adrian (Talia Shire) reverts back to the “worried sports wife” cliché she grew out of in Rocky III. James Brown makes a lavish, preposterous cameo that’s less boxing than pro wrestling. And in the end, after THREE training montages, Russians cheer for Rocky rather than opponent Drago (Dolph Lundgren), bringing international conflict to an end.

Nobody writes all of that with a straight face.

Obviously this is a come down from the inspiring, Oscar-winning documentary reality of Rocky. It’s a complete transformation despite recycling the same core story ideas – but Rocky himself changed too. Like the character’s own in-movie celebrity, it’s logical to bring a rock star-like ambiance to his life. Defeating the entire Soviet Union? Not so much, but James Brown fits better many might acknowledge, a sequence that’s as much about Apollo Creed’s lust for showmanship as it is Rocky’s own success. There are reasons why Rocky IV is as it is, even if the end product hits a crescendo that’s in no way plausible.

In addition to Bill Conti’s iconic theme music and “Eye of the Tiger,” Rocky IV features an album’s worth of new songs too, including the flawless, pure ‘80s ballad “Hearts on Fire.” It’s monetization, and seeing Rocky in credit card commercials during Rocky III, of course record labels would want their cut, to which Rocky’s business managers would oblige. In that, Rocky IV plays host to a slightly satirical side, battling communism by showing the capitalist spirit. Rocky doesn’t win entirely because of America, much as the character wants that to be true. No, he’s the self-made man born of Italian immigrants who went from street rat to global sensation, and made gobs of money doing it – because America means we all can change.


Like Rocky III, Rocky IV’s Dolby Vision scan must contend with a heavy, inconsistent grain structure. That’s a challenge for the encode, which to its credit, is able to withstand the barrage with only minor lapses, usually chroma noise. This lets the detail, texture, and resolution through, showing the (slim) gains made for this release. However, this is likely the least “restored” of the set, possibly pulled from an older 2K scan rather than a fresh 4K one. Likely the money went toward mastering the new director’s cut (and those results are unfortunate).

A jump in contrast adds sizzle to the stadium lights, or even the sun shining off Paulie’s robot. Depth and dimension both excel, even if black levels can, in places, cast a gray tone.

Color intensity and vividness show wonderful primaries, while remaining entirely organic. Rocky IV doesn’t show a single hue that’s beyond reality or digitally skewed. The ridiculous showmanship during the final fight – the flags, the banners – look stupendous. Flesh tones hit their marks.


A remastered 5.1 DTS-HD track thrives in the stereos, with rare rear speaker accompaniment. It’s a satisfying split, wide too. Where used, surround separation is pinpoint and natural.

With the slightest hit to the fidelity due to age, Rocky IV otherwise sounds wonderfully clear.


The only bonus on the Rocky IV disc itself is Stallone’s recent director’s cut of the movie. Note this uses an entirely different master compared to the theatrical edition, hit with DNR, and leaving the image far too glossy and unnatural. Other extras reside on a bonus disc inside the box set.

Rocky IV
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


The ultimate, pure Hollywood sequel, Rocky IV is a masterpiece in that context, and a ludicrous, absurd follow-up in any other.

User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

One thought on "Rocky IV 4K UHD Review"

  1. The Phantom Stranger says:

    When someone mentions Rocky to me, this is the first movie I think of. Cheesy but ridiculously entertaining

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