|First appearance||Novel: First Blood|
Film: First Blood
|Last appearance||Novel: Rambo III|
Film: Rambo: Last Blood
|Created by||David Morrell|
|Portrayed by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Voiced by||Neil Ross|
|Full name||John James Rambo|
|Alias||Raven, Lone Wolf (field names)|
|Nickname||Johnny (by Trautman)|
Boatman (by Lewis)
Uncle John (by Gabrielle)
|Occupation||United States Army Special Forces (former)|
|Family||R. Rambo (father)|
Helga Rambo (mother)
Colonel Sam Trautman (close-friend, father-figure, trainer, best-friend until death)
|Religion||Non-religious in Part I and II, Buddhist in Part III, atheist in Part IV|
John James Rambo (born July 6, 1947) is a fictional character in the Rambo franchise. He first appeared in the 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell, but later became more famous as the protagonist of the film series, in which he was played by Sylvester Stallone. The portrayal of the character earned Stallone widespread acclaim and recognition. The character was nominated for American Film Institute's list 100 Years…100 Heroes and Villains. The term "Rambo" is used commonly to describe a person who is reckless, disregards orders, uses violence to solve problems, enters dangerous situations alone, and is exceptionally tough, callous, raw and aggressive.
Creation and background
Morrell says that in choosing the name Rambo he was inspired by "the sound of force" in the name of Rambo apples, which he encountered in Pennsylvania. These apples, in turn, were named for Peter Gunnarsson Rambo who sailed from Sweden to America (SE Pennsylvania/Southern NJ/Northern Delaware) in the 1640s, and soon the name would flourish in New Sweden. The name Rambo was likely derived from a shortened form of Ramberget (a hill on the Hisingen island in Gothenburg, where Peter Gunnarsson was born) plus "bo" (meaning "resident of"). Today, many of his descendants can still be found in this region of the US. Morrell felt that its pronunciation was similar to the surname of Arthur Rimbaud, the title of whose most famous work A Season in Hell, seemed to him "an apt metaphor for the prisoner-of-war experiences that I imagined Rambo suffering". Furthermore, an Arthur J. Rambo was an actual U.S. soldier in Vietnam, but he never returned. His name can be seen on the Vietnam War Memorial wall in Washington, DC. He was granted the first name "John" as a reference to the song "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again".
In the novel and first film, Rambo appears as a soldier who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and has difficulty adjusting to normal life. He is shown to be prone to violence because of the torture he suffered at the hands of North Vietnamese soldiers in the Vietnam War. In the next films and novelizations he is displayed as a man who wants to stay away from conflict but is willing to do anything to save his friends and the people he cares about from any danger. Due to his violent nature, many civil people tend to fear him. However, Colonel Samuel Trautman (who was his commanding officer in Vietnam and is probably his only friend) understands him and the pain and torture he has endured in the war and is the only one able to reason with him when he becomes an outlaw after incapacitating police officers in the town of Hope.
Rambo has a muscular physique due to his time as a soldier in the army and his intense training regimen. He has a high amount of strength and stamina. Rambo is an expert in surviving in dense forests against a large number of enemies due to his experiences in the Vietnam War. He is also an expert in guerrilla tactics, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat. Rambo has black hair and brown eyes. His height is 5'10" (1,78 m). In the DVD commentary for First Blood Morell remarks that the inspiration for Rambo was World War II hero Audie Murphy.
According to all the films, Rambo's full name is John J. Rambo. He was born on July 6, 1947 in Bowie, Arizona, to a Native American father Reevis Rambo 1922 - 2000 and a German mother Helga Rambo 1926 – 1969 (as shown on the graves at Rambo’s farm Rambo: Last Blood). Rambo is a Christian. John's niece is also well known, Shirlene. Rambo enlisted in the U.S. Army at the age of 17 on August 6, 1964, although he states in Rambo he was "drafted into Vietnam." After he graduated from Rangeford High School in 1965, his military service began in January 1966. Rambo was deployed to South Vietnam in September 1966. He returned to the U.S. in 1967 and began training with the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina under Colonel Trautman's tutelage.
In late 1969, Rambo was re-deployed to Vietnam as member of a SOG brigade. He became part of a Special Forces Long-range reconnaissance patrol unit commanded by Colonel Trautman. Trautman's team received the code name of Baker Team and usually consisted of eight men. Other known members were Delmar Barry (a black operative who quickly became Rambo's best friend), Joseph "Joey" Danforth (another friend of Rambo), Manuel "Loco" Ortega, Paul Messner, Delbert Krackhauer, Giuseppe "Greasy Cunt" Colletta, and Ralph Jorgenson. In an event that would haunt Rambo for the rest of his life, Danforth died in Rambo's arms after being fatally wounded by a rigged shoeshine box while their unit was on rest and recuperation time.
During a mission in November 1971 Rambo's unit came under surprise attack by NVA forces. Delmar, Rambo, and some other surviving members were captured by North Vietnamese forces near the Chinese-Vietnamese border and held at a POW camp, where many other American POWs were imprisoned and repeatedly tortured. Rambo's unit was decimated during the ordeal, but Delmar and Rambo managed to escape captivity in May 1972. By his own request Rambo was immediately re-deployed afterwards. At some point in his military career he also received training in flying helicopters. Rambo finally received his official military discharge on September 27, 1974. His final rank is not known but, judging from the crossed arrows (officer) insignia on the lapel of his Army Alpha Dress Green uniform, it is safe to assume that he was either a 1st Lieutenant or Captain.
Upon his return to the United States, Rambo discovered that many American civilians hated the soldiers returning from Vietnam, and he claimed that he and other returning soldiers were subject to humiliation and embarrassment by anti-war "hippies" who threw garbage at them, called them "baby killers", and excluded them from society. His experiences in Vietnam and back home resulted in an extreme case of post-traumatic stress disorder. At the same time, inner questions of self-identity and reflectiveness had commenced to cause Rambo to lash out at society rather than handling difficult situations in a "civilized" manner. First Blood picks up from this point.
In the original novel First Blood, Rambo is hitch-hiking in Madison, Kentucky. He is picked up by Sheriff Teasle and dropped off at the city limits. Repeatedly coming back, Rambo is arrested by Teasle and driven to the station. He is charged with vagrancy and resisting arrest, and is sentenced to 35 days in jail. Being trapped inside the cold, wet, small cells gives Rambo a flashback of his days as a POW in Vietnam and he fights off the cops as they attempt to cut his hair and shave him, beating one man and slashing another with the straight razor, killing him. He flees, steals a motorcycle, and hides in the nearby mountains. He becomes the focus of a manhunt that results in the deaths of many police officers, civilians, and National Guardsmen.
In a climactic ending in the town where his conflict with Teasle began, Rambo is finally hunted down by Special Forces Colonel Sam Trautman and Teasle. Teasle, using his local knowledge, manages to surprise Rambo and shoots him in the chest, but is himself wounded in the abdomen by a return shot. He then tries to pursue Rambo as he makes a final attempt to escape back out of the town. Both men are essentially dying by this point, but are driven by pride and a desire to justify their actions. Rambo, having found a spot he feels comfortable in, prepares to commit suicide by detonating a stick of dynamite against his body; however, he then sees Teasle following his trail and decides that it would be more honourable to continue fighting and be killed by Teasle's return fire.
Rambo fires at Teasle and, to his surprise and disappointment, hits him. For a moment he reflects on how he had missed his chance of a decent death, because he is now too weak to light the dynamite, but then suddenly feels the explosion he had expected – but in the head, not the stomach where the dynamite was placed. Rambo dies satisfied that he has come to a fitting end. Trautman returns to the dying Teasle and tells him that he has killed Rambo with his shotgun. Moments after, Teasle dies, succumbing to his wounds.
The film First Blood takes place in December 1981, and begins with John Rambo (now a homeless, out-of-work drifter) searching for Delmar Barry, an old friend with whom he served in Vietnam. He goes to Barry's home but is told by his mother that he died from cancer due to Agent Orange exposure. Rambo realizes that he is the last surviving member of his Special Forces unit (with unit members Delmar, Westmore, Bronson, Danforth, and Ortega now all dead). He then travels to the small town of Hope, Washington (the movie was filmed in Hope, British Columbia, evidenced by the town sign), where he is quickly spotted by the town's arrogant and abusive sheriff, Will Teasle, due to his long, unkempt hair, army jacket and overall scruffy appearance. Teasle soon picks him up and drives him to the edge of town, refusing to let him have a meal in town (Rambo only wanted something to eat) while stressing his prejudged dislike of drifters and "trouble makers". Rambo, still hungry, begins defiantly walking back into town almost immediately after being dropped off, and Teasle, spotting him again, arrests him on the spot this time and takes him to the local police station.
When searching Rambo, Teasle discovers a large survival knife on Rambo's belt. At the station, the Head Deputy Sheriff, Art Galt, beats Rambo and, along with others, harasses him. Rambo begins having flashbacks to the war when he was a tortured POW. When officers attempt to dry shave him, Rambo finally snaps and fights his way out of the station, beating up Galt, Teasle, and every deputy caught in his path and retrieving his knife. Outside, he hijacks a motorcycle from a man driving past the station and flees into the nearby mountains, while being pursued by Teasle in his police car. Teasle crashes his car, and Rambo escapes. Teasle calls in more officers and a helicopter, while Rambo abandons his motorcycle and makes his way into the deep terrain on foot. He finds an old sack near a dumped truck which he uses as an item of clothing. Later, he finds himself at the top of a cliff face whilst trying to escape the advancing policemen and is spotted by the search helicopter with Galt in the passenger's seat. Galt fires at him a number of times with his rifle, forcing Rambo to leap from the cliff, falling through a tree. Galt continues to fire upon the injured Rambo on the ground. Fighting back, Rambo throws a rock and hits the helicopter's windshield, causing the pilot to lose control, and Galt loses his balance and falls to his death. Rambo takes Galt's gun, tends his own injuries, and eventually confronts the lawmen on the cliff above. Rambo shouts to them, "There's one man dead! It wasn't my fault!" Teasle tells Rambo not to move or they will shoot. Rambo says he wants no more trouble, and begins to back away, but the men open fire; Rambo flees into the woods, with Teasle and his deputies in pursuit.
The men catch up to Rambo, and they release the tracking dogs. Rambo shoots two and their owner in the leg with his last bullets, and kills the other with his knife. The men begin to flank out and pursue Rambo, but Rambo easily disables them using guerrilla tactics. Rambo severely wounds each man, but does not kill any of them. Using a deputy as bait, Rambo jumps out of the brush and grabs Teasle, putting his knife to his throat. He tells him, "In town you're the law. Out here it's me". He tells Teasle to "Let it go" and give up his pursuit. Teasle refuses, and the State Police and National Guard are called in to assist in the hunt. Colonel Samuel Trautman soon arrives, taking credit for training Rambo. He is surprised to find any of the deputies still alive, and warns that it would be safer to let Rambo go and find him after the situation has calmed down. Teasle refuses to give in. Teasle asks Trautman to try and contact Rambo on the radio he stole to get a fix on his position. Trautman gets Rambo to respond on the radio, calling out his Vietnam company. Rambo says that he cannot turn himself in and tells Trautman, "They drew first blood, not me". Rambo is eventually cornered by the National Guard in a mine entrance where he is hiding. Teasle gets word they have cornered him, and gives an order not to fire. The inexperienced guardsmen ignore this order, and fire a rocket at him. The blast collapses the mine entrance, trapping him inside. The men assume Rambo is dead, but unknown to his pursuers, Rambo has instead escaped into the tunnels of the mine.
Rambo eventually finds an old exit vent, near a main road from out of which the troops are clearing. Rambo hijacks a passing Army truck (forcing its driver to jump out onto the road in the process) and returns to town, crashing it into a gas station. He blocks the highway to anyone in pursuit, by igniting the spilled fuel. Now heavily armed with an M60 machine gun, Rambo destroys transformers knocking out the power to the town. By then, Teasle has received word of Rambo's escape from the cave and ordered the town's population to hunker down for safety. Rambo spots Teasle on the station roof after destroying a gun shop and makes his way to the police station. Rambo takes out the police station's power before making his way inside. Teasle spots Rambo and fires at him, but misses. Rambo shoots back at Teasle through the ceiling, critically injuring him. Teasle falls through the skylight onto the floor. Rambo steps over him, prepared to kill him. Before Rambo can shoot Teasle, Colonel Trautman appears and tells him that there is no hope of escaping alive. Rambo, now surrounded by the police, rages about the horrors of war, the hateful insults from antiwar protesters when he returned home, and his inability to hold down a steady job. Breaking down, he then weeps as he recounts a particularly gruesome story about witnessing his friend Joey Danforth dying. He tells Trautman how they were in a bar, talking about his friend's Chevy and driving to Las Vegas in it, when a boy came in with a booby-trapped shoeshine box. Rambo had gone into the bar to buy two beers when the box suddenly exploded, tearing his friend's lower body off. Rambo then turns himself in to Trautman, and Rambo is arrested as Trautman walks free.
(There is an alternative ending where Rambo wants to die and tells Trautman to kill him. Trautman does not respond. Soon after, Rambo hands a gun to Trautman, and he proceeds to pull the trigger and shoot Rambo in the stomach while facing Rambo. Rambo subsequently dies of his wounds and Trautman then is left alone in the station and walks away.)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
After the incident in Washington, John Rambo is found guilty after a jury trial and sent to a labor camp prison. At the beginning of Rambo: First Blood Part II (set in 1985), he is visited by Colonel Samuel Trautman who offers him the chance to be released from prison if he goes to Vietnam to search for American POWs at the camp from where he escaped back in 1971. Promised a Presidential pardon if the mission succeeds, Rambo accepts and is officially but temporarily reinstated in the U.S. Army. He later meets Marshall Murdock, an American bureaucrat who is in charge of the operation. He tells Rambo that he is only to photograph the POWs and not to rescue them nor engage any enemy soldiers. Rambo reluctantly agrees. He is then told that an agent of the U.S. government will be there to receive him in the jungles of Vietnam.
Rambo is then parachuted into the Vietnamese jungles. However, while parachuting, he gets stuck on the plane and cuts the rope holding his equipment which allows him to continue parachuting and is left with only his knife, his bow, and arrows. On the ground, he meets Co Bao, a local woman working with the Americans. She takes him to a POW camp where he is able to rescue Banks, a captive, killing a number of enemy soldiers with his bow in the process of doing so. The trio then escape by boat but are attacked by a gunboat.
Rambo destroys the gunboat with a rocket launcher. When Rambo calls for extraction, he is denied, as Murdock fears what will happen to him and his party if the American public learn about Murdock's activities. Rambo and Banks are both captured, and back at the camp Russian advisors soon arrive to interrogate Rambo. Meanwhile, Co enters the camp under the disguise of a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. There she witnesses Rambo being tortured by Russian Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky and his second in command Sergeant Yushin, who demands that the American contact his base and confess to war crimes. After being electrically shocked on a bedspring by Yushin and then burned on the cheek with his own knife, Rambo pretends to agree to Podovsky's condition, but instead tells Murdock on the radio that "he is coming to get him", after which he promptly escapes with Co's help. They hide in the jungle and Co tends to Rambo's wounds. She then asks him if he will take her with him to the U.S., he agrees and he kisses her. But they are attacked by some Vietnamese soldiers and Co is shot by the Vietnamese commander, Tay, and dies. Enraged and distraught by Co's death, he kills them all (except for Tay, who escapes, but is later killed by one of Rambo's exploding arrows) and then buries Co's body in the jungle so her body is not scavenged upon by animals.
After the violence at the camp and on the river, Soviet and Vietnamese troops are scrambled to find and kill Rambo. While they are hunting for Rambo in a forest, Rambo kills a number of them using guerrilla tactics. Vietnamese soldiers continue to chase Rambo into and through a village. In a patch of tall grass there, Rambo sets a booby trap explosion that ignites a fire, burning many of the Vietnamese soldiers.
While still running away from the soldiers, a Soviet captured UH-1 Huey helicopter finds Rambo and drops a keg of napalm onto his position. Rambo dives off a cliff into a river as the keg explodes. The helicopter pursues him, shooting bullets into the water. As the helicopter gets closer to the water while shooting bullets, Rambo jumps up from under the water, yanks the gunman into the water, and climbs into the helicopter where he confronts Yushin. As they fight inside the helicopter, the helicopter flies away and Rambo throws Yushin out of the helicopter to his death. As Rambo approaches the pilot, the pilot also jumps out of the helicopter. Rambo gains control of the helicopter and flies it back to the POW camp to rescue Banks and the remaining POWs. He kills the remaining guards and gets the captives into the chopper. Another Soviet attack helicopter, a Mi-24 Hind with Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky at the cockpit, then tails Rambo's chopper. After he loses Rambo's chopper in a haze of smoke from firing at it, he notices it smoldering in a river. As the Russian chopper flies in low to investigate and finish off the bird, Rambo – who had appeared to be dead – suddenly sits up, rocket launcher in hand, and fires through the windshield, finishing off Podovsky once and for all.
Rambo then returns to the base and, using the M60E3 machine gun from the helicopter, destroys Murdock's command center. He then unsheathes his knife and threatens Murdock, ordering him to find and rescue the remaining American POWs in Vietnam, snarling almost under his breath, "You know there's more men out there. You know where they are. Find 'em... or I'll find you." Trautman then comforts Rambo and tries to pacify him and to convince him to rejoin the Special Forces, also telling him he would get another Medal of Honor for his actions. Rambo, however, visibly angry and fighting back tears, says that the soldiers he rescued deserve the Medal of Honor more than he does, and he only wants the same thing as the soldiers he rescued: for their country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love their country. Rambo then starts to leave. Trautman asks him, "How will you live, John?"; Rambo replies, "Day by day". The film ends as Rambo walks off into the distance while his mentor watches him. Because of his actions in saving the POWs, Rambo is granted the Presidential pardon he had been promised and stays in Thailand.
Rambo III (1988)
The film Rambo III opens with Colonel Samuel Trautman returning to Thailand to once again enlist the help of Rambo. After witnessing Rambo's victory in a stick fighting match, Trautman visits the construction site of the temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistan. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan rebels, the Mujahideen, who are fighting the Soviets in the Soviet–Afghan War. Despite showing him photos of civilians suffering under Soviet military intervention, Rambo, fearing the same betrayal of the U.S. government similar to the last mission and wanting a life without more bloodshed, refuses and Trautman chooses to go on his own.
While in Afghanistan, Trautman's troops are ambushed by Soviet troops while passing through the mountains at night. Trautman is imprisoned in a Soviet base and coerced for information by Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Kourov. Rambo learns of the incident from embassy field officer Robert Griggs and convinces Griggs to take him through an unofficial operation, despite Griggs' warning that the U.S. government will deny any knowledge of his actions if killed or caught. Rambo immediately flies to Pakistan where he meets up with Musa, a weapons supplier who agrees to take him to a village deep in the Afghan desert, close to the Soviet base where Trautman is kept. The Mujahideen in the village are already hesitant to help Rambo in the first place, but are definitely convinced not to help him when their village is attacked by Soviet helicopters after one of Mousa's shop assistants has informed the Soviets of Rambo's presence. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his attempts to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and results not only in Hamid getting shot in the leg, but also in Rambo himself getting splinters in the side. After escaping from the base, Rambo tends to Hamid's wounds and sends him and Mousa away to safety.
The next day, Rambo returns to the base once again, just in time to rescue Trautman from being tortured with a blow-torch. After rescuing several other prisoners, Rambo steals a helicopter and escapes from the base. However, the helicopter soon crashes and Rambo and Trautman are forced to continue on foot. After a confrontation in a cave, where Rambo and Trautman eliminate several Soviet Spetsnaz commandos including Kourov, they are confronted by an entire army of Soviet tanks, headed by Zaysen. Just as they are about to be overwhelmed by the might of the Red Army, the Mujahideen warriors, together with Mousa and Hamid, ride onto the battlefield by the hundreds in a cavalry charge, overwhelming the Communists. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and John are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank (somehow doing the work of a four-man crew all by himself, by also loading and firing the main gun) into the Russian's helicopter. Rambo survives the explosion and gets out of the tank. At the end of the battle Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to their Mujahideen friends and leave Afghanistan to go home.
The film Rambo opens with newsreels of the 2007 crisis in Burma. Burma is under the iron fist rule of Than Shwe and takes harsher stances against the nation's pro-democracy movement. Rebels are thrown into a mine-infested marsh and then gunned down by the Tatmadaw, while the Burmese military officer Major Pa Tee Tint, who ordered the genocides, watches the shootings grimly.
Former U.S. soldier John Rambo is still living in Thailand and resides in a village near the Burmese border. He makes a living capturing snakes and selling them in a nearby village. He also transports roamers in his boat. A missionary, Michael Burnett, asks Rambo to take him and his associates up the Salween River to Burma on a humanitarian mission to give aid to Karen tribespeople. Rambo refuses, having lost all faith in humanity at this point, but he is convinced by Sarah Miller to take them.
The boat is stopped by Burmese pirates who demand Sarah, in exchange for passage. After negotiations fail, Rambo kills them all. Although his actions save the missionaries, it greatly disturbs them. Upon arrival, Michael says that they will travel overland and will not need Rambo's help for the return trip, informing him that he intends to report him. The mission goes well until the Tatmadaw, led by Major Tint, attack. They kill most of the villagers and two missionaries and kidnap the rest, including Michael and Sarah. Ten days after the missionaries are scheduled to return, their pastor comes to ask Rambo's help in guiding hired mercenaries to the village where the missionaries were last seen.
Rambo agrees to transport the soldiers then returns to his village and forges himself a new machete. At their destination, Rambo tries to accompany the mercenaries with a black-wrapped package in hand, but their leader, described as a former "old school" and egotistical S.A.S. trooper, refuses. After arriving at the destroyed village with their guide, a Karen freedom fighter, they are forced to hide when some Tatmadaw arrive by truck and force their villager prisoners to run a gauntlet of hidden land mines thrown into the village rice paddies. The mercenary leader will not order a rescue, as he is concerned that the missing Tatmadaw will put the rest on alert. However, Rambo shows up with what is revealed to be his compound bow and shoots down the Tatmadaw. Rambo confronts the leader when the man threatens him, and with his arrow pointed at his eye socket, Rambo tells him and the others that soldiering is what they are and do, and gives them the option to "Live for nothing...or die for something". When Rambo stands down and tells the others to come, they follow without question with the leader in tow.
Rambo and the mercenaries locate and infiltrate a Tamawdaw base where Major Tint is the commander. They plan to save the hostages at a P.O.W. camp adjacent to the base. Rambo helps Sarah and the others to escape. The Tatmadaw unit finds the hostages missing and organizes a massive manhunt. Everyone is captured except for Rambo, Sarah, and the mercenary sniper "School Boy". But just as the group is to be executed, Rambo seizes a truck-mounted .50-caliber machine gun and massacres the Burmese army, giving an opening for School Boy to shoot down the Tatmadaw near the others and provide them also with weapons. Karen rebels join the fight to help Rambo and the mercenaries win. Major Tint attempts to get away, but is personally disemboweled by Rambo with his survival knife.
Encouraged by Sarah's words, Rambo leaves Thailand and returns to his home in the United States. He is seen walking along a Bowie, Arizona highway until he sees a horse farm and a rusted mailbox. Reading the name "R. Rambo", Rambo smiles and walks down the house's gravel driveway.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
In this film Rambo: Last Blood, eleven years after the events in Burma, Vietnam War veteran John Rambo lives in Bowie, Arizona in his deceased father's horse ranch, which he manages with his old friend, Maria Beltran, and her granddaughter, Gabrielle. Gabriela reveals to Rambo that a friend of hers, Gizelle, has found Gabrielle's biological father, Manuel, in Mexico. Against Rambo and Maria's wishes, Gabrielle secretly drives to Mexico to ask why Manuel had abandoned Gabrielle and her mother years ago. Gizelle leads Gabrielle to Manuel's apartment, where he reveals to her that he never really cared for Gabrielle or her mother.
Gizelle takes a heartbroken Gabrielle to a local club, where Gabrielle is drugged and kidnapped by enforcers of a Mexican cartel. Meanwhile, Maria informs Rambo of Gabrielle's disappearance to Mexico. Rambo travels to Mexico and interrogates both Miguel and Gizelle about Gabrielle's whereabouts. Rambo is reluctantly led by Gizelle to the club where Gabrielle was last seen and confronts El Flaco, the man who last spoke with Gabrielle. A mysterious woman, Carmen Delgado, tails Rambo as El Flaco leads him to Gabrielle's location. Rambo is immediately confronted, beaten and marked by the cartel, led by brothers Hugo and Victor Martinez. They take his driver's license, revealing the ranch's location, and a photo of Gabrielle, whom Victor recognizes. The cartel vow to mistreat Gabrielle further due to Rambo's actions.
Carmen takes Rambo back to her home where she cares for him until he fully recovers. Carmen reveals herself to be an independent journalist who has been investigating the Martinez brothers, the kidnappers and murderers of her sister. Rambo later raids one of the brothels, killing several men until he finds a drugged Gabrielle. On the way back home, Rambo thanks Gabrielle for giving him hope for ten years before she dies from the forced overdose. Enraged, Rambo sends Maria away and rigs the ranch with traps for a confrontation, and later returns to Mexico to ask Carmen's help in finding Victor. Carmen initially refuses, believing that it will solve nothing, but is convinced after Rambo appeals to her grief and frustrations.
Rambo raids Victor's home, killing several guards and decapitating Victor. In retaliation, Hugo leads a group of hitmen to Rambo's ranch, where each falls victim to the rigged traps. Saving Hugo for last, Rambo mutilates him and rips his heart out as an act of revenge. In the aftermath, a weakened Rambo sits on the porch of his father's house, vowing to continue fighting and to keep the memories of his loved ones alive. During the credits, Rambo saddles up his horse and rides off into the sunset.
During Cannes 2019, Stallone said he would continue portraying Rambo if the fifth film succeeds. Grunberg, however, said that Rambo: Last Blood "closes the circle", hoping it would conclude the film series. In September 2019, Stallone confirmed that he has plans for a prequel to the series; although he would not reprise the title role, he would like to explore who Rambo was before the war:
I always thought of Rambo when he was 16 or 17—I hope they can do the prequel—he was the best person you could find. He was the captain of the team; he was the most popular kid in school; super athlete. He was like Jim Thorpe, and the war is what changed him. If you saw him before, he was like the perfect guy.
Stallone has expressed interest in having Rambo take refuge in an Indian reservation for the sixth Rambo film. In June 2020, Stallone briefly elaborated on the idea, stating, "If I ever did another one, I think he would go back to the Indian reservation that he grew up on because he has Indian family."
- First Blood (1982) – the first film in the series, directed by Ted Kotcheff
- Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) – the sequel to the 1982 film, directed by George P. Cosmatos
- Rambo III (1988) – the sequel to the 1985 film, directed by Peter MacDonald
- Rambo (2008) – the sequel to the 1988 film, directed by Sylvester Stallone
- Rambo: Last Blood (2019) – the sequel to the 2008 film, directed by Adrian Grunberg
- Rambo: The Force of Freedom – Animated series based on Rambo franchise. Released in 1986
- First Blood – A novel, written by David Morrell. Released in 1972
- Rambo: First Blood Part II – A novelization, by David Morrell based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Released in 1985
- Rambo III – A novelization, by David Morrell based on Rambo III. Released in 1988
- Rambo Adventures – Based on Rambo franchise. Released in 1986
- Rambo III – Based on Rambo III. Released in 1988
- Rambo – Based on Rambo franchise. Released in 1989
- Rambo – Based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Released in 1985 for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, and Commodore 64
- Rambo: First Blood Part II – Based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Released in 1986 for Master System
- Rambo – Based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Released in 1987 for the NES
- Rambo III – Based on Rambo III. Various games released in 1989 for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, ZX Spectrum, Sega Mega Drive, Master System, Arcade
- Rambo III – Based on Rambo III. Released in 1989 for the arcades
- Rambo – Based on Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. Released in 2008 for Sega 2-player light gun game
- Rambo: The Video Game – Based on First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. Released in 2014 for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
- Fight Klub, Rambo is a character in a trading card game published by Decipher, Inc..
- Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff, a freemium video game in which Rambo is an unlockable character.
- Broforce, a side-scrolling run-and-gun platform video game in which Rambo is an unlockable character.
John Rambo is considered a cultural icon. The character influenced many action heroes and films in the 1980s and '90s. The John Rambo character became a prominent part of pop culture, and "Rambo", a word that can function as a noun, adjective, or a verb, became part of the English language. Perhaps more crucial from a cultural perspective, Rambo is a word that can be found in the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary. According to this source, Rambo is "a Vietnam War veteran represented as macho, self sufficient and bent on violent retribution." As well, it is widely popular to use adjectives such as Ramboesque, Ramboid, or Ramboism, to denote an ideological position that resembles Rambo’s attitude and behavior.
Rambo has become the quintessential representation of America during the Reagan years. President Ronald Reagan referred to Rambo in public speeches to exemplify his political ideology and aggressive foreign policy. Towards the end of the 1985 Beirut hostage crisis, President Reagan stated at a press conference that: "Boy, after seeing Rambo [First Blood II] last night, I know what to do next time this happens." Reagan often referred to Rambo: First Blood II as a model for his domestic and foreign policies. For instance, in his 1985 Labor Day speech, Reagan stated that he would clean the federal tax system "in the spirit of Rambo".
The Rambo film series also introduced and popularized the concept of the One Man Army in films, in which a protagonist is a well trained individual who can defeat countless enemies by himself. Rambo's weapons also became part of American pop culture. Weapons such as the M60 machine gun and the bow became synonymous with the character. But it was his signature weapon, the survival knife that became popular, which led to an increase in knife sales during the 1980s.
Rambo has also been mentioned or referenced in many films, such as Die Hard, TV shows, cartoons, novels and comic books. The character of John Rambo has been featured in many lists of greatest action heroes. In 2007, the film Son of Rambow is set during the early 1980s; the film is a coming of age story about two schoolboys and their attempts to make an amateur film inspired by First Blood. In 2013, Rambo was #6 in a list of the top 50 action movie heroes in Total Magazine. In 2013, Rambo was voted #1 in WatchMojo.com's top 10 film soldiers of all times.
In the legal profession, a "Rambo lawyer" is one who habitually engages in "all manners of adversarial excess, including personal attacks on other lawyers, hostility, boorish and insulting behavior, rudeness and obstructionist conduct" or embraces "a 'take no prisoners' attitude."
In popular culture
In the 1987 film Spaceballs, before they escape Spaceball City, when Princess Vespa of Druidia shoots the last of the Spaceball guards with one of the guards' blaster gun, resembling a Tommy gun, on the non-parking entry, her droid sidekick Dot Matrix congratulates her that that was "pretty good for Rambo".
In the 1989 film Tango & Cash, LAPD narcotics detective Ray Tango (ironically portrayed by Sylvester Stallone) is described by a county sheriff as "think[ing] he's Rambo" after roughing up a team of truckers he suspects of smuggling cocaine, while out of his geographic jurisdiction. "Rambo is a pussy" was Tango's response.
In the summer 1993 film Hot Shots! Part Deux, Richard Crenna reprises his Colonel role in a parody of Rambo: First Blood: Part II and Rambo III. In the same film, protagonist Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen), originally a parody of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) from Top Gun, is remodeled to resemble Rambo.
In the 1993 film Demolition Man, when antagonist Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) is robbing the armory exhibit of a museum, he tells a soldier mannequin, "Excuse me, Rambo. I need to borrow this." Ironically, the protagonist John Spartan is portrayed by Stallone.
In the 1994 film True Lies, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) says "I married Rambo," after discovering her husband Harry (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a very capable CIA operative. The film's director, James Cameron, co-wrote the screenplay for the second Rambo film along with Sylvester Stallone.
In 2013, a Cheetos commercial features a little boy (played by child actor Indiana Wilson), who is dressed up like Rambo, as he goes around blowing darts through a blowgun just by taking deep cleansing breaths and aim at targets all over town.
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