Do They Know It’s Christmas? — Day One
Christmas Connection: The climactic fight between Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago takes place on Christmas Day. Or Just Another Dreary Soulless Day in the Bread Line, as it was known in the Soviet Union at the time.
When you get right down to it, nothing says Christmas like two ‘roided up monsters beating the crap out of each other for 15 rounds (oh, sure, like Stallone got that physique by lifting trees and running from the KGB). And as an extra bonus in your stocking, Rocky even manages to end the Cold War, drawing a Slow Clap from Gorbachev in the process. Merry Rozhdestvom indeed.
Rocky IV completes the transformation of Rocky Balboa from plucky underdog to unstoppable superhero, although somehow along the way he never quite learns to stop leading with his face. In fact, Rocky’s primary strategy seems to be taking advantage of his opponent being worn out from beating the daylights out of him for 14 rounds. The one time Rocky actually boxes (the second Lang fight in Rocky III), he wins in three rounds. Think of the wear and tear he could have saved himself if he’d only, I don’t know, defended himself at some point. I guess that tactic died along with Apollo Creed.
I remember people in my audience lustily shouting for Rocky to “kill that fucking Russian” during the big fight, making for an enjoyable holiday experience for all in attendance. Never mind that this paragon of the American Way left his only child home alone on Christmas to go beat up someone in an unsanctioned fight. And worse, he leaves him alone with Paulie’s sexy-voiced robot. They’re lucky they didn’t come home to find the kid passed out in a spent heap with the robot and a very confused vacuum cleaner.
Do They Know It’s Christmas?: Not really. It seems more like the fight was set at Christmas to tie in with the November release date than for any other compelling reason. Sure, Rocky’s kid gets a “Merry Christmas” shout-out at the end of the fight, but unless Rocky Jr. was tuning to pirate radio coming out of central Asia, the chances are good he missed that. And besides, sexy-voiced robot.