Retro Review: Rambo: First Blood Part 2

“Sir, do we get to win this time?” those are the words that Rambo tells Trautman after he finds him splitting rocks in prison.

That one line speaks to the heart of the character and to all vets who bring their horrors home.

“Rambo: First Blood Part 2” picks up not long after the first film. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is recruited by Trautman (Richard Crenna) to go on a discovery mission back in Vietnam to locate and assess how many American POWs are still left behind enemy lines.

It’s a suicide mission and no one will take it. So it is a job for Rambo. But unfortunately for the politicians who sent him back into Vietnam, Rambo doesn’t know how to die. When they stab him in the back, Rambo rises up and wages a one man war to bring home his imprisoned country men.

“Rambo: First Blood Part 2” was written by James Cameron during downtime while he was trying to finish “The Terminator”. Cameron’s script was explosive and began with Rambo in a mental institution. But the story, Rambo’s redemption and becoming less insane and more heroic all came from Cameron. He refurbished the character causing him to evolve. The differences between Rambo in the first and second films have angered fans for a very long time. But to make Rambo the action hero Hollywood wanted there had to be a change. If not for this radical shift in the character, Stallone’s career could have been on auto-pilot and many action films after it would have been drastically changed.

Stallone did do a rewrite after Cameron. Stallone’s main contribution was changing the mental hospital to a prison and adding the tragically brief love story.

The love story was interesting for such a macho movie as this.

But it was needed to show Rambo’s transformation into an actual hero not mention also make the soldier more human.

It is not a stellar film but it was a landmark in the series.

Yes, the cliches, muscles ripping, the question of how many arrows and well how many Rambo kills in the movie all lead to the film’s credibility.

In the first film, Rambo kills no one. The people who die are either by accident or stupidity. In the sequel, no one is spared. But there is a big difference between killing soldiers and small town cops.

Once again Stallone delivers as Rambo. Will there ever be another actor, ever, to be as ripped as Stallone was in this flick. I mean how in god’s earth does a man look like that?

Crenna brings more panache to Trautman this time out. I also liked the sweetness that Julia Nickson (right) brings to the film. She is the humanity in this film and she blossoms in it. Too bad we never saw much of her after. Steven Berkoff and Charles Napier are both great in their performances.

“Rambo: First Blood Part 2” was the second biggest of 1985 only to be beat by “Back to the Future”. It had the biggest opening of 1985 with $25.2 million dollars squashing James Bond’s “A View to a Kill”. Only three Bond films have ever opened at #2. The movie went on to make over $300 million worldwide.

This movie is a audience pleaser, pure and simple. Yes there is a little politics and patriotism but really its a popcorn action flick. And hate to say it but it’s also a classic.

3 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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