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  Rocky VI Take That, Sly
Year: 1986
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
Stars: Silu Seppälä, Sakari Kuosmanen, Heinäsirkka, Juuso Hirvikangas, Sakke Järvenpää, Matti Pellonpää, Jaakko Talaskivi, Mato Valtonen
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: It's the boxing match of the century, where East meets West as the American champion Rocky (Silu Seppälä) takes on the Russian contender Igor (Sakari Kuosmanen). In light of Rocky's track record, there's surely no way he can lose, but though Igor hasn't been in training his team believe he is more than his opponent's equal if not his better. The American flies into Eastern Europe for the championship bout - could there be an upset on the cards?

Considering that this was written and directed by the notoriously grumpy Aki Kaurismäki, the Finnish cult filmmaker, then that is all too possible. After a viewing of Sylvester Stallone's blockbuster Rocky IV, he was incensed by its pro-U.S.A, message, apparently ignoring the "Why can't we all get along?" speech his boxer offers the world at the finale of that movie, but the thought that went through some viewers' heads was basically, imagine if the Soviets at the height of the Reagan years had made a film where a Russian boxer beats the living daylights out of an American boxer?

You can envisage how badly those on the other side of the Atlantic would have reacted to that, but as Stallone had the cheek to have his fighter beat the evil monolith Ivan Drago on Russian soil, there were voices of dissent about the sincerity of Sly's self-mythmaking. Step forward the Finn, who came up with this retort, where his Rocky is a spindly wimp and the Drago stand-in Igor is a towering slab of bulk, existing on vodka and beer (he takes a few swigs during the match!) and with a pair of Leonid Brezhnev eyebrows to boot.

If this didn't resemble an actual Hollywood Rocky flick, for a start it was a silent movie in black and white, then perhaps its soulmates were such things as the Frankie Goes to Hollywood video for their hit song Two Tribes, which took a similarly irreverent stance on the Cold War. Kaurismäki was on record for saying how much he despised Stallone, so the end result of the match as shown here will surprise no one as Igor pummels his opponent, lifts him over his head, and continues to punch his face even after he's thrown him to the ground and knocked him unconscious.

Then he goes after the referee. The boxing choreography left something to be desired, but the short film (just under ten minutes long, in fact) made its point with a sledgehammer blow of satire, that the Rocky movies were all phoney baloney and Stallone's grasp of world politics was embarrassing at best. Naturally, if you were a fan of Stallone's tough guy movie antics, this would not go down too well with you, and nor was it supposed to, but if you wished to see the guy taken down a peg or two then Rocky VI - definitely not to be confused with Rocky Balboa, the official sixth entry - would tickle the funny bone, cod-James Brown Living in America theme song (by the Leningrad Cowboys) that runs over the story and all.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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