They drew the first blood!
RAMBO - THE AMERICAN HERO
It's been a while since I did an article, but I've been busy with my new baby - my own website (www.JamesCameronOnline.com). But to show everyone that I'm still a RetroJunkie, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in T3 - I'm back!
This time I wanted to go through one of the most iconic series ever. And of course, I'm talking about FIRST BLOOD. I'll describe my first viewings as a kid and how do I view the movies today
Rambo is just one of those icons known to everybody, like Batman or Superman. Who doesn't know what Rambo is? This name is even used in comparisons and can be coined as a term for maniacal, rapid or overdone heroism. As much as we all love the series, admittedly, it does have a lot of cheese and cliches in it, but that's the part of it's appeal. So let's go
FIRST BLOOD (1982)
Based on the novel by David Morell, published in 1972, the movie introduces us to John Rambo - Vietnam vet who is torn apart by internal demons. Turned into killing machine and then rejected when not needed anymore, Rambo arrives in a small town to visit a friend and instead is met with rejection and unfair judgment that pushes him into war with the local police.
I think it's safe to say that the majority of the fanbase and casual movie fans love the first one the most.
For me tho, this movie does not hold any nostalgic value at all. I've never seen the first one as a kid and only had the iconic image in mind of Rambo that we'll see from the second movie on and in the cartoon. The first time I saw FIRST BLOOD was when I was in my early to mid teens I believe, and I was completely shocked that it's actually a Rambo movie. That was not the Rambo I was used to. Another thing that came off as a shocker for me is that the first movie wasn't actually called 'Rambo' but FIRST BLOOD. It was so different in tone, but yet so interesting that I didn't want to blink or go to the bathroom. I was just grabbed by it and my only snack for the movie were my own fingernails.
Today I have pretty much the same view - terrific movie, surprisingly free of the 80's cheese and very tense. But it just doesn't hold that nostalgic value for me
RAMBO FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985)
Now, I think it's hilarious how much of a mess naming the series is. I think Collider.com nailed it perfectly:
The first film is called, First Blood, the second is called, Rambo First Blood Part II. No colon, no coma and a "part II" tacked on in a bizarre fashion that makes no logical sense. How can you have a second, first blood? Is it the second drawing of first blood? Is it what happens after one draws first blood? IMDb grants the film the dignity of a colon in the title, but none of the DVD materials, nor any of the posters feature this punctuation. By Rambo III the producers had all but given up on the concept of title continuity. The movie is just called, Rambo III. There is no Rambo 1 or 2, Just Rambo 3. It's not even Rambo Part III. It's just, Rambo III. And then there is Rambo 4, which is called, Rambo.
Rambo II (as I will call it) is IT for me. And this is the movie that really kickstarted the franchise and turned Rambo into icon, spawning countless toys and all kinds of merchandise like video games etc, and even a Saturday Morning cartoon
Rambo II is the only one in the series that got Oscar nominations. It's also interesting to note that it was co-written by none other than THE freakin James Cameron himself. Cameron wrote 3 scripts simultaneously, The Terminator, Rambo II and Aliens. While he went on to direct the first and the last one, he left Rambo for Stallone. Stallone however did a great deal of rewrite to the point where he is even credited first for the screenplay.
Rambo II was my introduction to the character. For a kid who was about 7 or 8, this was one of the most awesome movies ever and Rambo was a superhero in it. From then on, I was torturing my dad to rent any movie that had Stallone in the credits (or Schwarzenegger) and the guy was one of my favorite characters. And all the kids were playing Rambo too of course, imitating the shootouts and playing Rambo and POVs against Vietnamese soldiers. The problem always was that nobody wanted to be the Vietnamese guys , so we always had about 20 POVs (all arguing who's going to be Rambo and Trautman) and all make believe Vietnam guys. There was always someone who wanted to be the main villain tho, so at least we had Yushin and the Russian General Podovsky. Stevene Berkoff was phenomenal in this role by the way. Always liked his portrayal of the bad guys.
To this day it's my favorite Rambo. It has both action and emotions, and is the essential Rambo movie.
RAMBO III (1988)
Rambo III was what killed the franchise. It was just too much. It had action and no story. Just explosions and nothing besides that (kind of like any Michael Bay movie). Stallone himself often mentioned in the interviews that he did the fourth one because he didn't want Rambo III to be the last one since it was so bad and it was such a dissapointment to everybody
I remember that one as well. I was so thrilled to see it and at the time I loved it. It was everything I expected and wanted from Rambo, in a different setting from the second one, to which I was getting used to seeing in movies since there was a lot of desert war movies out at the time.
But when I rewatched the movie for the first time since my childhood about two years ago, it really doesn't hold up. And it's not even that lovable 80's action cheese ala Commando or even Rambo II. Like I said above, pure action with zero story behind it. It's like watching people at the shooting gallery. Now I think it's one of the worst sequels ever.
I was very skeptical when I first heard about the new Rambo. I thought it's gonna be a bad move just to cash in on the old classic franchise by penning a movie with no plot and much much older actors, like with T3 or Basic Instinct 2.
But I was pleasantly surprised. The movie was actualy very good and quite interesting and provided a very, very nice closure to the series. And actually it was a heart pumping moment to see the opening credits and realizing that this is a new Rambo movie! And then hearing that familiar theme playing was really cool and exciting.
There's a lot of criticism that Stallone looks like an old woman in the movie or I even heard one comment that he looks like Rosie O'Donnel that just came out of the shower, but I think he looked ok. Certainly wasn't an embarassment
The fifth movie is being made, and it was just confirmed recently by the producers that its a certain thing and its gonna be PG 13 to broaden the audience. I'm very against it. Rambo already came full circle. He will never be normal again, so that shouldnt be expected. He was in america only in the first movie, and he was treated here like thrash. So here, after three more movies oversees, after all those decades, he finally comes back home to his father and fatherland.
Now, making a movie with Rambo encountering problems in America...its first movie all over again, it ruins everything. It completely erases not only the perfect ending the fourth one had, but also collapses the storyarc completely. So he comes back happily and to show himself and us that he was right to stay away? thats just wrong on so many levels. V is NOT needed
Hope you guys enjoyed the article!
I'LL BE BACK!