|Rambo: First Blood Part II|
|Directed by||George P. Cosmatos|
|Screenplay by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Story by||Kevin Jarre|
|Based on||John Rambo|
by David Morrell
|Produced by||Buzz Feitshans|
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Distributed by||Tri-Star Pictures|
|Box office||$300.4 million|
Rambo: First Blood Part II is a 1985 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprises his role as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo. A sequel to First Blood (1982), it is the second installment in the Rambo franchise, followed by Rambo III. It co-stars Richard Crenna, who reprises his role as Colonel Sam Trautman, along with Charles Napier, Julia Nickson, and Steven Berkoff.
The film's plot is inspired by the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. In the movie, Rambo gets released from prison in a deal with the United States government to document the possible existence of missing POWs in Vietnam, but is given strict orders not to rescue any. When Rambo defies his orders, he is abandoned and forced once again to rely on his own brutal combat skills to save the POWs.
Despite mixed reviews, Rambo: First Blood Part II was a major global blockbuster, with an estimated $150 million sold in the United States, becoming the second highest grossing film at the domestic box office and the third highest grossing film worldwide in 1985. The film earned just $73,000 less than Stallone's other blockbuster of 1985, Rocky IV. It has become one of the most recognized installments in the series, having inspired countless rip-offs, parodies, video games and imitations. In 2009, Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie number 23 on its list of "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years".
Three years after the events in Hope, Washington, former US Army Green Beret John Rambo, now imprisoned at a penal labor facility, receives a visit from his former mission commander, Colonel Sam Trautman. With the Vietnam War now officially over, the public has become increasingly concerned over news that US POWs have been left in enemy custody in Vietnam. To placate their demands for action, the US government has authorized a solo infiltration mission to confirm the reports. Rambo agrees to do it in exchange for a pardon.
In Thailand, Rambo is temporarily reinstated into the US Army and instructed only to take pictures of a suspected POW camp, not to attempt their rescue or engage any enemy personnel. Any POWs are to be retrieved by an extraction team upon his return.
During his aerial insertion, Rambo's parachute gets caught in the airplane door, forcing him to cut himself free and jettison most of his equipment, leaving him with only his knives, bow and arrows. His assigned contact, a Vietnamese intelligence agent named Co Bao, arranges for a local band of river pirates to take them upriver. Reaching the army camp, Rambo sneaks inside, spotting POWs. After finding a prisoner tied to a cross-shaped post, Rambo frees him against orders.
Rambo, Co and the POW are discovered by Vietnamese troops and cut off by an armed gunboat. The river pirates betray them and try to hand them over. Rambo kills the pirates and destroys the gunboat with an RPG, saving the POW and Co Bao. Shortly before reaching the extraction point, Rambo asks Co to stay behind. When the approaching rescue helicopter, with Col. Trautman inside, radios back to base that Rambo has found a POW, Marshall Murdock, the bureaucrat overseeing the operation, orders the crew to abort the rescue. Trautman, held at gunpoint by the side gunner, complies, and the crew abandons Rambo and the POW, who are captured by the Vietnamese.
Trautman confronts Murdock, who reveals that he never intended to save any POWs, as Congress expected Rambo to find nothing. If he did, Murdock would dispose of any photographic evidence or even leave Rambo to die. He removes Trautman from the mission to keep him from helping Rambo.
Rambo understands that the Soviets are assisting the Vietnamese. He is interrogated by the local Soviet liaison, Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky, and his right-hand man, Sergeant Yushin. Podovsky demands that Rambo broadcast a message to Murdock warning against any further rescue missions. Rambo refuses, and as Co infiltrates the camp, he is tortured with electric shocks. Rambo finally relents when the prisoner he tried to rescue is brought in and threatened with eye-gouging. Rambo dials in his secret radio code frequency to contact his base, but uses the opportunity to threaten Murdock. He then overpowers his captors and escapes the camp with Co's help. Rambo agrees to take Co to the United States, and they kiss. Shortly afterwards, a small Vietnamese force attacks the pair and Co is killed. An enraged Rambo guns down the soldiers and buries Co in the mud.
Rambo, using his knife and bow, dispatches the Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers sent after him, using an explosive arrow to blow up the Vietnamese officer who killed Co. After surviving a barrel bomb dropped by Sgt. Yushin's helicopter, Rambo clambers aboard and throws him out of the cabin to his death. Rambo takes control of the helicopter and lays waste to the prison camp using rockets and machine gun fire, before extracting the POWs and flying towards friendly territory in Thailand.
Podovsky, pursuing in a helicopter gunship, fires at Rambo's chopper, seemingly disabling it. When the gunship moves in, Rambo, who had faked the crash of his helicopter, uses a rocket launcher to destroy the gunship, killing Podovsky. After returning to base with the POWs, Rambo pulls out his knife, demanding that Murdock rescue the remaining POWs. Trautman tries to convince Rambo to return home, now that he has been pardoned. Rambo refuses, saying that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it, and walks off.
Main article: List of Rambo characters
Development of a sequel to First Blood began when Carolco Pictures sold foreign distribution rights to distributors in Europe and Japan in 1983, initially scheduling the film for a December 1984 release. It was later rescheduled for August 1, 1985. Producers wanted Rambo to have a partner for the POW rescue mission. They wanted John Travolta to play Rambo's sidekick, but Stallone vetoed the idea. Lee Marvin (who had been considered for the role of Colonel Trautman in the first film) was offered the role of Marshall Murdock, but declined, and the role was given to Charles Napier.
Then up-and-coming screenwriter Kevin Jarre had written a story treatment that was liked by both the producers and Stallone. Jarre later recalled in an interview in the documentary Tinsel – The Lost Movie About Hollywood:
I wrote the first draft of Rambo. And I just did it, I was living on dog food at the time and I, you know, I needed a gig and I wanted to finish a spec script I was writing. And you know, they called, Stallone called me in and they had this idea about what they should do in the sequel to First Blood and I said, "Well, how about if maybe he searches for POWs in Southeast Asia and back in Vietnam? He said, "Great, let’s do it."
James Cameron was then hired to pen a first draft of the screenplay, which he was concurrently writing along with The Terminator and Aliens, both of which he would go on to direct. Cameron had been recommended by David Giler, who did some uncredited script work on the first film. Cameron's first draft was titled First Blood II: The Mission. According to Cameron, his script had the same basic structure of the first film, but was more violent than its predecessor. Cameron was quoted in an October 1986 issue of Monsterland magazine: "It was quite a different film from FIRST BLOOD, apart from the continuation of the Rambo character. The first one was set in a small town, it had a different social consciousness from the second one, which was a very broad, stylized adventure. It was a little more violent in its execution than I had in mind in the writing."
Following Cameron’s initial draft, Stallone took over scriptwriting duties, creating a final draft. Jarre received sole story credit, while Stallone and Cameron were credited for the screenplay.
Stallone later recalled:
I think that James Cameron is a brilliant talent, but I thought the politics were important, such as a right-wing stance coming from Trautman and his nemesis, Murdock, contrasted by Rambo's obvious neutrality, which I believe is explained in Rambo's final speech. I realize his speech at the end may have caused millions of viewers to burst veins in their eyeballs by rolling them excessively, but the sentiment stated was conveyed to me by many veterans. ... [Also] in his original draft it took nearly 30–40 pages to have any action initiated and Rambo was partnered with a tech-y sidekick. So it was more than just politics that were put into the script. There was also a simpler story line. If James Cameron says anything more than that, then he realizes he's now doing the backstroke badly in a pool of lies.
Before filming started, Stallone went through torturous trainings to build the perfect musculature. Writer David J. Moore said in the 2019 documentary film In Search of the Last Action Heroes: "Here's a guy who went against the grain in everything that he ever did. Here's a guy who transformed himself, literally; he chiseled his own body into this statuesque, muscular specimen.": 42:00
The film was shot between June and August 1984 on location in the state of Guerrero, Mexico, and Thailand. While vacationing in Acapulco, Ron South was hired on as assistant editor and his film career began. During filming, special effects man Clifford P Wenger, Jr. was accidentally killed during one of the film's waterfall explosions, when he lost his footing and fell to his death.
|Rambo: First Blood Part II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)|
|Film score by|
|Jerry Goldsmith chronology|
The musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the British National Philharmonic Orchestra, although Goldsmith also made heavy use of electronic synthesized elements. The main song is sung by Stallone's brother, singer-songwriter Frank Stallone. Record label Varèse Sarabande issued the original soundtrack album.
As released in the United Kingdom by That's Entertainment Records (the British licensee for Varèse Sarabande at the time), the UK version placed "Peace in Our Life" between "Betrayed" and "Escape from Torture", thus making "Day by Day" the final track.
In 1999, Silva America released an expanded edition with the cues in film order.
Unusually for the time, a teaser trailer for Rambo: First Blood Part II—then titled First Blood Part II: The Mission—was released in 3,000 theaters in the summer of 1984, over a year before the scheduled release date of August 1, 1985, and several months before any footage for the film was completed. Producer Mario Kassar arranged this to capitalize on the popularity of the first film. The film was also marketed through merchandising, with posters of Rambo selling rapidly. Although the film was rated R and directed at adults, tie-in toys were created for it.
The video sold 425,000 units, a record for a tape with a retail price of $79.95.
Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on DVD on November 23, 2004. A Blu-ray release followed on May 23, 2008. Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on 4K UHD Blu-ray on November 13, 2018.
Rambo: First Blood Part II opened in the United States on May 22, 1985, in a then-record 2,074 theaters, becoming the first film to be released to over 2,000 theaters in the United States, and was the number one film that weekend, grossing $20.2 million. Overall, the film grossed $150.4 million in the US and Canada, and $150 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $300.4 million. The film broke various international box office records. It set an opening weekend record in the United Kingdom with a gross of £1.1 million from 322 screens, surpassing the record set by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). In France, the film had a record opening day with 269,564 admissions and a record week with 2,075,238 admissions.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 33% based on 45 reviews. The site's consensus is "First Blood Part II offers enough mayhem to satisfy genre fans, but remains a regressive sequel that turns its once-compelling protagonist into just another muscled action berserker." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100 based on reviews from 15 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "almost as opportunistic as the Congressman it pretends to abhor. In spite of everything it says, it's much less interested in the M.I.A. question than it is in finding a topical frame for the kind of action-adventure film in which Mr. Stallone — his torso and his vacant stare — can do what his fans like best. That is, fight, outwit and kill, usually all by himself, dozens of far-better armed but lesser mortals." Variety wrote, "The charade on the screen, which is not pulled off, is to accept that the underdog Rambo character, albeit with the machine-gun wielding help of an attractive Vietnamese girl, can waste hordes of Viet Cong and Red Army contingents en route to hauling POWs to a Thai air base in a smoking Russian chopper with only a facial scar (from a branding iron-knifepoint) marring his tough figure. You never even see him eating in this fantasy, as if his body feeds on itself." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four and called it "very good at what it does, but what it does isn't always that good", referring to the depiction of the enemy as going "back to the image of the Yellow Peril, to the notion that white is right and other colors are wrong." Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "If a character can seemingly do anything, it's hard to feel tension or concern about his fate. (At least Superman had kryptonite.) We are left with nothing but detached aesthetic appreciation: watching Rambo race through several million dollars worth of explosions and aerial attacks, coruscant fireballs billowing everywhere and bodies flying hither and yon. Except for anyone irretrievably into violent power fantasies, this will probably soon pall." Pauline Kael commented in The New Yorker, "The director, George P. Costmatos, gives this near-psychotic material—a mixture of Catholic iconography and Soldier of Fortune pulp—a veneer of professionalism, but the looniness is always there." Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post wrote, "At best, Rambo: First Blood Part II is a crudely effective right-wing rabble-rouser, the artistic equivalent of carpet bombing—you don't know whether to cheer or run for cover. At worst, it's a tribute to Sylvester Stallone, by Sylvester Stallone, starring Sylvester Stallone."
The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.
|Academy Award||Best Sound Editing||Frederick Brown||Nominated|
|Razzie Award||Worst Picture||Buzz Feitshans||Won|
|Worst Actor||Sylvester Stallone||Won|
|Worst Original Song||Frank Stallone ("Peace in Our Life")||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actress||Julia Nickson||Nominated|
|Worst New Star||Nominated|
|Worst Director||George Cosmatos||Nominated|
The film is referenced in the 1985 The Golden Girls episode "On Golden Girls". Female characters seem to be aroused by John Rambo's muscular physique, and Sophia Petrillo says: "I sat through it twice. You'll love it! He sweats like a pig and he doesn't put his shirt on!"
Main article: Rambo III
A sequel titled Rambo III was released in 1988.
David Morrell, author of First Blood, the novel the first Rambo film is based on, wrote a novelization called Rambo: First Blood Part II.
A tie-in video game called Rambo was produced for ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64. There was also Rambo for NES, as well as Rambo: First Blood Part II for Master System. MSX and DOS games were based on the film. Sega adapted some of the battle scenes in the film for the 2008 arcade game Rambo. In 2014 Rambo: The Video Game, based on the first three Rambo films, was released.
The 1986 arcade run and gun video game Ikari Warriors was intended by its developer SNK to be an official licensed adaptation of Rambo. However, they were initially unable to acquire the rights to the film. This resulted in the game's title being changed to Ikari, referencing part of the film's Japanese title, Rambo: Ikari no Dasshutsu ("Rambo: The Furious Escape"). After the game made its North American debut at an arcade game expo, they managed to get in touch with Sylvester Stallone about acquiring the rights to the film. However, it was too late by that point, as the game had already become popularly known by its Japanese Ikari title among arcade players in Japan and North America, which led to the game's official release as Ikari Warriors in North America. Stallone was friends with SNK's president at the time, and owned an Ikari Warriors arcade cabinet.
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