MikeyB's Movie Night: The Rambo Quadrilogy (1982-2008)
Over the last few days I decide to revisit the exploits of one of the most recognizable action heroes in the world. He has long flowing locks, a trademark bandana and refuses to wear a shirt. He has fought in three wars in as many decades, and his story spans four films. I am of course talking about John Rambo. With a fifth film now in development I wanted to see how these movies have held up, and if my previous feelings about them have stayed the same. So lets dive right in and find out!
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy
Plot: A troubled Vietnam veteran is pushed too far by a small town police department and must now use his skills of war to survive.
Opinion: I love this movie. I consider it to be one of the best action movies of all time, and is one of my personal favorite performances from Stallone. His breakdown at the end of the film is just heart breaking and harrowing to watch. Of the entire series this is my favorite.
Trivia from IMDB for First Blood:
Sylvester Stallone suffered several serious injuries during filming of this movie. For the scene where Rambo jumps off the cliff and injures himself on some tree branches on the way down, Stallone performs the stunt himself during the bottom third of the fall, and in the process, broke one of his ribs when he landed on the tree branch. Stallone remarks on the DVD commentary that it was easy to play the landing when Rambo screams in pain, since he was not acting and was really in pain. Also for the scene where Rambo first runs into the abandoned mine shaft to elude the guardsmen firing at him, Stallone places his hand on top of a piece of wood, not realizing that his hand was right on top of a gunfire squib that went off a second later, injuring his hand in the process. Stallone mentions that the pain he felt was so intense, he was afraid to look at his hand, fearing the squib had completely blown his thumb off.
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier
Plot: John Rambo is released from prison to help in a covert government operation to help find POW's still in captivity in Vietnam.
Opinion: This is the weakest film in the series to me. The tone is still deadly serious but the subject matter is rife with cheesiness. Everyone involved plays it straight and Stallone is still pitch perfect but the "over the top" factor is just too strong.
Trivia from IMDB for Rambo: First Blood Part 2:
According to the documentary We Get to Win This Time (2002), the producers considered teaming up Sylvester Stallone with his Staying Alive (1983) protégé John Travolta (who was once considered to play Rambo himself in the first film) as Rambo's young partner in rescuing the American POWs. Stallone nixed this idea when he decided it would be better to make the film a solo project.
Director: Peter Macdonald
Starring: Slyvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Kurtwood Smith
Plot: Rambo infiltrates Russian occupied Afganistan to save his old Commanding Officer and friend Col. Trautman.
Opinion: Well the "over the top" factor is back in full force in this sequel but strangely I find this installment much more entertaining then the previous film. Its got a strange charm to it and its made me realize that no matter the movie, Stallone always gives it one hundred percent. He never phones it in and genuinely seems to loves what he does.
Trivia from IMDB for Rambo 3:
According to director Peter MacDonald in the DVD commentary, at the time this movie was being filmed, the Russians were, in fact, invading Afghanistan just as depicted in this movie, however about 4 weeks prior to this movie's premiere, the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan, and were no longer at war with that country. MacDonald felt that this turn of events had hurt the movie's box office returns, because the idea of the Russians being the primary villains in this movie was no longer really believable. At the same time though, MacDonald was somewhat glad of the idea that the events of this movie may have helped to contribute to Russia's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden
Plot: A "retired" John Rambo finds himself drawn back into combat after a group of missionaries are captured by a ruthless local infantry group deep in Burma.
Opinion: This is a very close second favorite in the series for me. Stallone keeps the deadly serious tone of the previous iterations, but loses the cheese and adds in brutal and copious amounts of blood and gore. It is a refreshing change to show the audience the grisly repercussions of what would actually happen if 80's action movies were portrayed realistically. I have to say if you've got a weak stomach you may want to skip this entry in the series. Stallone is top notch as always and the film is exhilarating from start to finish.
Triva from IMDB for Rambo:
Sylvester Stallone specifically wanted the film to be set in the midst of the most brutal ongoing global conflict that was basically ignored by the public and media. After ruling out established (and well-known) conflicts in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, Stallone talked to international experts who told him about the Burmese junta's mass murder of the Karen people. He then set the movie's storyline in the middle of this genocide.
Well that wraps up my little look back at John Rambo's celluloid exploits. Hope to hear your opinions on the series from you in the comments below, and as always thank you for reading!