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I must break you.
~ Drago to Rocky before their fight - his own infamous catchphrase.
Because of you, I lose everything: my country, respect. You ever see stray dogs in Ukraine? They go for days without food, people spit on them, they are nothing. No home, only will to survive... to fight. I have a son. All he knows... (raises his fists) ....is this.
~ Drago confronting Rocky for defeating him years ago.

Ivan Drago (Russian: Иван Драго) is a major antagonist in the Rocky film series, appearing as the main antagonist of both the 1985 film Rocky IV and the 2018 film Creed II. He is a former Soviet military captain and amateur boxing champion bent on defeating Rocky Balboa.

He was portrayed by Dolph Lundgren.

Biography

Rocky IV

Drago was a boxing champion from Russia (part of the Soviet Union at the time) and a captain in the Soviet military, known to have superhuman strength that allows him to rise himself into the ranks of Soviet boxing history. His wife Ludmilla Drago acts as his spokeswoman during interviews and press conferences, which Drago's manager Nicolai Koloff also uses to run down America and boast of Soviet superiority in propagandistic fashion. 

Drago first appeared arriving to America with his wife and manager as he intends to fight the famed boxer champion Rocky Balboa in an exhibition match to prove that Soviet boxers are superior in combat than that of Americans. However, former champion Apollo Creed (who is also a friend of Rocky's) decides to come out from retirement to fill in for Rocky as he wants to refute Drago's intentions to the world. During an exhibition match between Creed and Apollo at Las Vegas, Drago coldly to states to Apollo that he will lose before the fight begins. At first, Apollo had the upper hand, but Drago's super-strength proved to be lethal when Drago easily punches Apollo down in the second round, killing him instantly. Boasting over his victory, Drago shows no remorse over Apollo's death by saying "If he dies.... he dies." This event is what drove an angry Rocky to swear revenge on Drago for Apollo's death.

Deciding that he has to make Drago pay for what he did, Rocky is forced to give up the title so that he can enter an exhibition match against Drago in Moscow on Christmas Day. As such, Drago trains himself for the event, even getting himself injected with steroids by his trainers Manuel Vega and Sergei Rimsky to intensify his strength. During the match, Drago seemed to have the upper hand, but Rocky manages to fight back, earning the respect of the Soviet audience. An angry Koloff berates Drago for letting this happen, but an angry Drago pushes off Koloff, renouncing his loyalty to the Soviets by saying that he will fight to win for himself and nothing else. However, in the final round, Rocky avenges Apollo's death by defeating Drago with a knockout punch, leaving Drago in utter defeat.

Rocky V

Although Drago does not physically appear in the film, it is revealed that his blows left Rocky with brain damage (specifically diagnosed as cavum septi pellucidi (CSP)), causing him to mistake people, see visions and various other things. As such, Rocky is forced to retire from boxing to prevent any further damage while Drago is left as a complete disgrace by the entire Soviet community for his loss. During his fight with Tommy Gunn arranged by George Washington Duke, Rocky witnesses a vision of Drago killing Apollo as he believes he is about to suffer the same fate at Tommy's hands, until he is inspired by a vision of his old trainer Mickey telling him to get up and finish the fight by defeating both Tommy and Duke.

Creed II

Drago returns in the film, revealing that he and Ludmilla have a son named Viktor, and that Ludmilla divorced him, leaving him to raise Viktor to become a lethal boxer in the streets of Ukraine. Upon learning that Creed's son Adonis (who is also Rocky's protege) has become one of the most professional boxers in the world, Drago takes action by training Viktor to defeat Adonis in a challenge in hopes of bringing back glory to the Drago name. He also hopes that the imminent event will help him get his revenge on Rocky for defeating him in the ring 33 years ago. Even upon meeting Adonis in person, Drago comments that he is much shorter than his father, much to Adonis' outrage.

During the first match between Adonis and Viktor, Drago watches in satisfaction as Viktor badly injures Adonis, but Viktor gets disqualified for this, much to Drago's dismay. Despite the disqualification, Drago finds himself to be back in good graces with the Russian delegates due to Viktor's efforts as he and Viktor are invited to dinner with them. However, Viktor storms out in disgust upon the arrival of Ludmilla as he is furious at her for abandoning him, even berating his father for trying to earn back the respect from the people who abandoned him, thought Drago assures that it will all change when Vitkor defeats Adonis in a rematch.

As such, Drago puts Viktor through suffering physical tests to prepare for the rematch. However, Rocky gives Adonis special training that requires equal blows, which allows Adonis to compromise against Viktor's blows in the rematch. As such, Adonis is able to pound Viktor, which drove Ludmilla and several of Viktor's supporters to depart away from the scene. This left Viktor emotionally overwhelmed, and upon seeing this and realizing that Viktor will suffer Apollo's fate, Drago is forced to concede defeat to Adonis by throwing in the towel to spare Viktor from further pain. Deciding that his relationship with Viktor is more important than his desire for revenge and glory, Drago is last seen comforting Viktor over his loss before they returned to Ukraine.

Personality

Throughout the film, Ivan presents himself as the strong and silent type, allowing others to speak for him and only speaking when directly spoken to. While Drago was originally introduced as the pride of the Soviet Union and praised as a hero, Drago does not seem to care much for his country. When his manager began to talk down to Drago for letting an American be cheered for in their country, Drago lifts him in the air by the throat and throws him away, revealing he only fights for himself and nothing else. Driven by his desire to be the best at all costs, this single-minded manner in which he pursues this goal deprives him of his humanity. Many viewers and critics have suggested that Drago was meant to symbolize America's perception of Russia: immense, powerful, and emotionless. This is made evident by his cold-blooded pulverization of Creed in an exhibition match as well as by his callous reaction towards news of his opponent's death.

Despite his ruthlessness, Drago did love and care for his son Viktor, even willing to spare him of a humiliating defeat by throwing in the towel. He even confronted his ex-wife Ludmilla for abandoning him and Viktor when the latter was an infant.

Quotes

You will lose!
~ Ivan Drago to Apollo before their fight in the ring.
If he dies... he dies.
~ Drago commending over Apollo's death after defeating him in the ring.
I fight to win! For me! FOR ME!!
~ Drago turning against Koloff, renoucing his loyalty to the Soviet Union.
My son will break your boy!
~ Ivan Drago swearing to Rocky that he will have Viktor defeat Adonis in the upcoming match.
You're much smaller than your father.
~ Drago upon meeting Adonis in person.

Gallery

Trivia

  • The character and his catchphrases have gone on to inspire multiple mentions in popular culture (such as the comic parody film Disaster Movie), as well as the name of Michigan heavy metal band If He Dies He Dies.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Brian Griffin has a montage which is a parody of Rocky's montage to the song "Heart's on Fire" and when Brian gets to the top of the mountain he yells "DRAGO" the same way Rocky does in the movie.
  • He is 6'5 and 243 lbs.

Navigation

           Rocky Villains

Ivan "The Siberian Express" Drago | Nicolai Koloff | Ludmilla Vobet Drago | Manuel Vega | Sergei Rimsky | George Washington Duke | Tommy "The Machine" Gunn | Merlin Sheets | Karen | Union Cane | Viktor Drago