Sylvester Stallone Reflects on Time He Nearly Died Filming ‘Rocky 4’

by Megan Molseed

It is one of the most intense scenes in cinematic history. The moment Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago face each other in the boxing ring in Rocky IV.

And, apparently, this iconic scene nearly led to the death of the star of the hit 1985 film.

“The first thing we shot [was] my entrance, his entrance, and the introductions,” Sylvester Stallone says as he describes the nearly deadly moment that occurred while filming Rocky IV.

“Then I got really injured during the fight,” the movie star recalls. “I had to be flown into intensive care to California from Canada.”

According to Stallone, he had encouraged his Rocky IV costar, actor and martial artist Dolph Lundgren, to show his “dominance” against Stallone’s Rocky Balboa in the classic scene where Rocky faces the Russian boxer.

“Well, he pulverized me,” the Sly Stallone recalls of the scene.

“And I didn’t feel it in the moment but later that night my heart started to swell,” the Expendables 4 actor continues.

“He had bruised the perio cardio sac, which is when the heart hits the chest,” Sly continues of the harrowing moment. “Like in a car accident when your chest hits the steering wheel.”

The movie star goes on to say that he was on the verge of “talking to angels” as he was rushed to the hospital to receive medical attention for the nearly deadly injury.

Sylvester Stallone Was ‘Talking to Angels’

“My blood pressure went up to 260 and I was going to be talking to angels” Sylvester Stallone explains.

“Next thing I know I’m on this emergency, low-altitude flight,” the Rocky Balboa actor recalls. “I’m in intensive care surrounded by nuns.”

According to Stallone, he remained in the intensive care unit for four days after the incident.  

While the incident was intense, Sylvester Stallone wasn’t going to stay down.

It wasn’t long after his four-day stay in the hospital, that Stallone was back on the Rocky IV set.

Dedicated to finishing the rest of the film, including the famous fight scene between Rocky and Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago.

“After that, I had to go back and finish the fight,” Stallone says.

The actor adds that this nearly deadly punch ended up making the cut in the film’s original release.

Apparently, in the original Rocky IV release, when Sly Stallone’s Rocky Balboa goes down after the chest punch from Lundgren’s Ivan Drago, he is truly going down.

“In the first round, where he knocked me down, that is for real,” Stallone says of the scene.