They drew the first blood!
July 30, 2009

Hi everybody!

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


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


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.

RAMBO (2008)

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!

More Articles From Achilles
9 years, 6 months ago
hi agree with the article, even if I think the first movie is the best.
I also agree to the fact rambo saga should be over.
Only a prequel can be made.

and since I am a writer, I wrote it... You can watch chapter one with rambo sountrack here:


I would really like to have a review from such real fan of the saga as the author of this very good article.

b regards
    10 years, 8 months ago
    Rambo is an interesting film, as is the series. Albeit they are a little too violent for my tastes. God bless.
      12 years, 3 months ago
      This article rules. Very good work, Achilles. First Blood is an awesome film. I watched it for the first time recently and was surprised to find that the first Rambo movie didn't have Rambo in the jungle, killing tons and tons of people.
        12 years, 3 months ago
        I also Liked Rambo III. The dialogue between Rambo and Trautman throughout the film gave more depth to the characters.
          12 years, 4 months ago
          I love the Rambo trilogy!! First Blood is awesome but Rambo: First Blood Part II is my favorite for its brutality and ingenuity...Rambo III I don't remember as much as the other two movies because originally I saw it on TV and then I bought it on DVD even though I ended up not liking it as much as the first two movies. I guess I'm just a completest in my DVD collection.
            12 years, 4 months ago
            thanks for the good comments as always gentlemen!
              12 years, 4 months ago
              Nicely done sir. I cannot believe I have not seen any of the Rambo movies. This makes me want to go rent one. I wonder if they are available on redbox.
                12 years, 4 months ago
                Good to hear from the mighty Achilles again. What was so funny about that era of entertainment was that all these R-rated action movies (Rambo, Robocop, Aliens, Predator, etc.) had either cartoon shows, action figures, video game or all three. Meanwhile we the 6-10 year old target audience of the merchandising were not even supposed to have been able to watch the films.

                As such, I just saw First Blood and Part II for the first time 6 months ago. First Blood was touching and awesome, part II classic action. Although First Blood is the only one I can see myself watching multiple times.
                  12 years, 4 months ago
                  I gotta agree. As a kid back in the `80s Rambo was the definition of cool to me. I really wished The Rambo action figures were 3 3/4 inch just like the GI Joes so I could have him join the `Joes to take on Cobra. Sadly by the time a 3 3/4 inch Rambo figure was finally introduced I was too old to be playing with action figures. Why couldn't action figure companies just stick to one size, please? Was that so much to ask?
                    12 years, 4 months ago
                    I loved all the Rambos as a kid and I still do love them. I don't know why everyone complains about Rambo III I loved it still do it still gets me pumped watching it. I got to say thought the latest Rambo Kinda disappointed me. I didn't think the story revolved around Rambo at all I mean you see more of the other people in the film them him, but I still liked it. But I loved Rambo as a kid and still do Stallone ROCKS!!
                      12 years, 4 months ago
                      very entertaining.
                        12 years, 4 months ago
                        I work in a video store and I made a reference to Rambo the other day to a coworker and she acted like I was speaking a foreign language. I later found out she'd never heard of Robocop or had any idea that there were Alien movies before AVP. It was a sad, sad day.
                          12 years, 4 months ago
                          Great article! The order I give them is:

                          1. Rambo I
                          2. Rambo IV
                          3. Rambo III
                          4. Rambo II

                          I put Rambo II last for these reasons: 1. Soft lense shots. Way over the top especially with Rambo and not just him and the girl. 2. Shooting a bazooka inside a helicopter as it would fry everyone behind it when firing. 3. Just did not measure up to the epic first!

                          At least in III he cauterized his own wound! haha. Thanks for the fun read and thoughtful run through of the franchise!
                            12 years, 4 months ago
                            Another great article Achilles. I'll be sure to check out your website!
                              12 years, 4 months ago
                              Do ya think Stallone was overcompensating for being a draft dodging porno star?
                                An unhandled error has occurred. Reload Dismiss