Thursday, April 10, 2014

A-Z Blogging Challenge - I is for Infestation

That's right.  I've been infested by a . . . . . .GUEST BLOGGER!

Please help me in welcoming my husband, Mike, a writer for the Redskins-based blog Hogs Haven!  Also, please try to ignore his plug at the end.  Shameless.  Just shameless.

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Best Movie Villain of All Time: Ivan Drago


When my wife asked me to come on as a guest blogger, at first I was honored that she had chosen me. A few moments later, however, I became slightly terrified as I realized that I am sports blogger by trade, and have never posted on anything non-sports related.  She then told me that I was assigned the letter “I”, which of course gave me no help whatsoever in terms of figuring out what to write about.  She also told me I could write about sports if that was what I felt the most comfortable doing, but while saying it trailed off at the end of the sentence, meaning she would prefer that I go in a different direction.

So, I went back and starting looking through her past blogs to get some ideas and, after looking at only one, an idea hit me: what if I did a post about a fictional character who was the greatest movie villain of all time?  And that is what I have decided to do.  Without further ado, I present, for your approval, the man known as “The Siberian Express’, “The Siberian Bull”, and “Death from Above”.  His name: Ivan Drago.

One scary dude.  This is Beth talking.
For those of you who normally read this post, I apologize if I am repeating things you already know.  But since I am very aware that every time I try to put Rocky IV on in the Harar household my wife immediately complains and threatens to poke out her eyes, I know this will be news to her.  So we begin with a little background:

As many of you are aware, the Rocky series started off innocently enough about a poor man who lived in Philadelphia and who needed a way out of the slums.  He took to boxing, and after a very cool montage, boxed his way into a draw with Apollo Creed, who was the heavy weight champion at the time.  That movie won an Academy Award and launched the career of Sylvester Stallone.  In the second Rocky (Rocky II), Rocky had earned some street cred off his last match against Apollo Creed and was awarded with a second match.  After another great montage, Rocky finally took down the champ and was now the baddest boxer on the planet.

Then we moved on to the next installment, Rocky III, in which there is a new antagonist gunning for Rocky’s title named Clubber Lang (played terrifically by a brash Mr. T).  In this classic, Apollo had since hung up his gloves in retirement and agreed to help Rocky get into shape, all through the magic of another splendid montage.  In the process, they became the best of friends and the movie ended with Rocky taking down Lang.  However, the movie doesn’t really end there.  The final scene is one in which Rocky and Apollo are going to have a private match, at Apollo’s request, as he is starting to get what we now call the "Brett Favre Itch" (aka I don’t want to retire even though I’m going on 50). 

There is a lot of foreshadowing in this, as where Rocky III ends with them starting to throw the first punches in their private fight, Rocky IV starts with those punches landing.   Apollo officially wants back in the ring.  And now we get to the man this post is all about: Ivan Drago.

Drago is a scientifically advanced former Soviet Olympian and soldier who now focuses all his angst, anger and grunts at boxing.  He is a man of few words (literally, he speaks four English lines in the whole movie) but through his team, comes to America to put his greatness on display.  Apollo sees this as a fantastic opportunity to get back in the headlines and challenges Drago to an exhibition match.  Rocky sees the 6’5”, 261lb freak of nature and has reservations, but Apollo's eagerness to get back into the ring is strong and he gets Rocky to agree to train him for the fight.  Apollo's self confidence is blinding and he has no fear of Drago.  That is of course, until he DIES in the ring.  That’s right, Drago pounds Apollo in the head too many times and kills Rocky’s best friend, in an EXHIBITION match.  As Apollo lays on the mat with blood coming from everywhere, Drago says the line that has lived in infamy ever since.  “If he dies, he dies.”

Yeah, chills right?  Well never fear, Rocky goes to the Soviet Union with revenge on his mind. After (shocker) another montage, and perhaps the best one yet, Rocky gets in shape for the fight and takes Drago down after an epic 15 round struggle.  As a bonus, during the process of the match, Rocky also manages to have the fans turn on their own countryman, and start screaming “Rocky!” before the fight ends.  Rocky then, for some inexplicable reason, is a handed a microphone.  After a series of voice cracks and heavy breathing, he finally screams, “If you can change, everyone can change!” to which the Soviet crowd erupts into happy applause and tears.  This movie was the perfect 1980’s metaphor for the United States-Soviet Union relationship, and this was Stallone’s Hollywood way of saying the two countries could still make nice yet.  It was a fantastic movie, and was the last installment of the Rocky series.  (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Rocky V, Rocky Balboa, or the upcoming Rocky VII). 

What made the Ivan Drago the best villain of all time?  He was by far the most brooding, powerful, immovable killing machine that Rocky, who was six inches shorter, had ever faced.  Drago cheats (he is shown getting injections of some kind of mysterious clear fluid-we all knew it was steroids), he punches with the force of 2200 pounds per square inch (average for a boxer is 700 psi), he has the benefit of training with the best technology available in Russia at the time (Rocky is forced to train in the woods) and he KILLS people in EXHIBITION matches with zero remorse. 

As I reflect back on every other movie I’ve ever watched, I can’t think of another villain who’s character was developed so well and so quickly(in as campy a way as possible) to the point where the audience really believed that the hero’s task seemed impossible.  Anyone who got in Drago’s way was simply roadkill (Apollo learned that the hard way).  That was until, however, our beloved hero stepped up (after a montage or two) and took him down.  So, I now throw it to you, the readers.  Who was the best movie villain of all time in your opinion?  Please let us know in comments. 

Thanks to my wife for letting me sub in for the day.  Hopefully, you have as much fun reading this post as I had writing it.  If you are interested in reading post that are more in my wheelhouse, please check out www.hogshaven.com, where I am a fairly regular contributor.


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What do you think?  Eh.  We'll give him a point.
Mike - 1
Beth - 1 for picking an awesome guest blogger

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