In 1982, First Blood introduced cinema audiences to John Rambo for the first time and the face of cinema was changed. An adaptation of David Morrell’s tense novel, Ted Kotcheff’s film was a cinematic gut punch, a energetic adventure tale with a conflicted protagonist. Like Rocky before it, Rambo would become one of Sylvester Stallone’s trademark roles and he would go on to play the character another four times (Rambo 5 is currently in production)
First Blood sees Vietnam veteran Rambo haunted through the wilderness outside the sleepy town of Hope by Teasle (Brian Dennehey), the town’s gruff sheriff. The movie hits the ground running and it covers a lot in a relatively slight 93 minute running time. The film uses the bare bones of David Morrell’s book, but it removes much of the character and motivation. Rambo isn’t much of a killer in the film, but he’s got a high body count in the novel. Another major difference is tha Rambo dies at the end of the novel – something that would have limited the potential for sequels on the big screen.
Rambo: First Blood Part II takes Rambo back to Vietnam looking for POWs still held after the war. George P. Cosmatos’ sequel ups the action quota and Stallone returns back bigger and buffer than before. This 1985 film is where the legend of Rambo really began, where the character entered the pop culture lexicon.
After retroactively winning the war in Vietnam Peter MacDonald’s Rambo III sees our hero kick Russian ass in Afghanistan. This time the action is even more cartoonish, and any of the subtlety from First Blood has now been washed away to become a Reaganite fantasy. It’s still a fun ride, but the character had strayed far from the source material. Rambo III failed to match the box office haul of its predecessor and it looked like Rambo would be relegated to being a relic of the 1980s. However in 2008, Stallone returned to the character to his roots, with the gritty and violent Rambo.
The Rambo Trilogy is now available ON 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY AND DIGITAL DOWNLOAD