Rambo: First Blood Part II

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Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo first blood part ii.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Produced by Buzz Feitshans
Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone
James Cameron
Story by Kevin Jarre
Based on Characters 
by David Morrell
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited by Larry Bock
Mark Goldblatt
Mark Helfrich
Gib Jaffe
Frank E. Jiminez
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • May 22, 1985 (1985-05-22)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25.5 million[2]
Box office $300.4 million[3]

Rambo: First Blood Part II (also known as Rambo II) is a 1985 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos and starring Sylvester Stallone, who reprises his role as Vietnam veteran John Rambo. It is the sequel to the 1982 film First Blood, and the second installment in the Rambo film series. Picking up where the first film left, the sequel is set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue; it sees Rambo released from prison by federal order to document the possible existence of POWs in Vietnam, under the belief that he will find nothing, thus enabling the government to sweep the issue under the rug.

Despite negative reviews, First Blood Part II was a major worldwide box office success, as well as the most recognized and memorable installment in the series, having inspired countless rip-offs, parodies, video games, and imitations.

The film was on the ballot for the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Cheers, a list of America's most inspiring movies.[4] Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie number 23 on its list of The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years.[5]


Five years into his sentence, former commando John Rambo is visited by his old commander, Colonel Sam Trautman. With the war in Vietnam over, the public has become increasingly concerned over news that a small group of American POWs have been left in enemy custody. To placate their demands for action, the US government has authorized a solo infiltration mission to confirm the reports. As one of only three men suited for such work, Rambo agrees to undertake the operation in exchange for a pardon. He is taken to meet Marshal Murdock, a condescending bureaucrat in charge of overseeing the project. Rambo is temporarily reinstated into the army and told that he is only to photograph, not rescue the prisoners or engage enemy personnel.

During his insertion, Rambo's parachute becomes tangled and breaks, causing him to lose most of his equipment leaving him with only his signature knife, as well as a bow with specialized arrows. He meets his assigned contact, a young intelligence agent named Co-Bao, who arranges for a local pirate band to take them upriver. Reaching the camp, Rambo spots one of the prisoners tied to a cross shaped post, left to suffer from exposure, and rescues him against orders. During escape, they are discovered by Vietnamese troops and attacked. When a gunboat manages to catch up, the pirates betray them out of fear. Rambo gets the POW and Co-Bao to safety, destroys the boat with an RPG-7, and kills the pirates. When Rambo calls for extraction, the helicopter is ordered to abort by Murdock, who claims Rambo has violated his orders.

Co-Bao escapes, but Rambo and the POW are recaptured and returned to the camp. There, Rambo learns that Soviet troops are arming and training the Vietnamese. He is turned over to the local liaison, Lt. Col. Podovsky and his henchman, Sergeant Yushin, for interrogation. Upon learning of Rambo's mission from intercepted missives, Podovsky demands that Rambo broadcast a message disavowing the POWs. Meanwhile, Co infiltrates the camp disguised as a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. Rambo at first refuses to cooperate, but relents when the prisoners' lives are threatened. Instead of reading the scripted comments, Rambo directly threatens Murdock. He then subdues the Russians with Co's help and escapes into the jungle. They kiss, and Rambo agrees to take Co back to the United States. A small Vietnamese force attacks them, and Co is killed. An enraged Rambo kills the soldiers and buries Co's body in the mud.

Using his weapons and guerrilla training, Rambo systematically dispatches the numerous Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers sent after him. After barely surviving a barrel bomb dropped by Yushin's chopper, Rambo climbs on board, throws Yushin over the side in a brief fight, and takes control. He lays waste to the prison camp and kills all of the remaining enemy forces before extracting the POWs and heading towards friendly territory in Thailand. Podovsky, pursuing in a Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunship,[6] shoots them down and moves in for the kill. Having faked the crash, Rambo kills him with a spare rocket.

Returning to base with the POWs, Rambo, after using the helicopter's machine gun to destroy Murdock's office, confronts the terrified man with his knife demanding that Murdock rescue the remaining POWs. Trautman then comforts Rambo and tries to pacify him. An angry Rambo responds that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. The film credits roll as Rambo walks off into the distance while his mentor watches him.



Producers considered that Rambo would have a partner in the rescue mission of POWs. The producers allegedly wanted John Travolta to play Rambo's partner, but Stallone vetoed the idea.[7] Lee Marvin (who was considered to play Colonel Trautman in the first film) was also originally set to play Marshall Murdock, but declined.

James Cameron wrote a first draft under the title First Blood II. (Cameron had been recommended by David Giler who did some uncredited script work on the first film.[8]) Cameron's script had the same basic structure of the first film but had a character of Rambo's sidekick.

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.[9]

Filming schedule[edit]

The film was shot between June and August 1984.

Shooting locations[edit]

The film was shot entirely on location in Mexico. The waterfall explosion scene was shot in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico and the rest of the film in Tecoanapa, Guerrero, Mexico.


Box office[edit]

Rambo: First Blood Part II opened in the US on May 22, 1985, and was the #1 film that weekend, taking in $20,176,217 on 2,074 screens (which made it the first film in the US to be shown on 2,000+ screens). Overall, in the US, the film grossed $150,415,432 and $149,985,000 internationally, giving First Blood Part II a box office total of $300,400,432.[3] The movie broke various international box office records.[10]

Rentals and overall figures[edit]

The film grossed $78,919,000 in rentals in the US alone. DVDs of each of the first three movies in the series have been released and selling since 1998, but no figures are available for these yet. As the movie took $300,400,432 at the box office and $78,919,000 from US rentals, it is estimated that with European/international DVD sales of Rambo: First Blood Part II, the overall take for the movie is somewhere in the region of $400–500 million.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Rambo: First Blood Part II received negative reviews from critics.[11] The film earned a 28% "Rotten" rating in the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.[12] The film was given a positive review by both Siskel and Ebert.[citation needed]

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[13]


Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Sound Editing Frederick Brown Nominated


The musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra. The main song is sung by Stallone's brother, singer/songwriter Frank Stallone. Varèse Sarabande issued the original soundtrack album.

  1. Main Title (2:12)
  2. Preparations (1:16)
  3. The Jump (3:18)
  4. The Snake (1:48)
  5. Stories (3:26)
  6. The Cage (3:55)
  7. Betrayed (4:22)
  8. Escape from Torture (3:39)
  9. Ambush (2:45)
  10. Revenge (6:14)
  11. Bowed Down (1:04)
  12. Pilot Over (1:52)
  13. Home Flight (3:01)
  14. Day by Day (2:06)
  15. Peace in Our Life - music by Frank Stallone, Peter Schless, and Jerry Goldsmith; lyrics by Frank Stallone; performed by Frank Stallone (3:18)

Note: 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. Previously unreleased music is in bold.

  1. Main Title (2:14)
  2. The Map (1:09)
  3. Preparations (1:18)
  4. The Jump (3:19)
  5. The Snake (1:49)
  6. The Pirates (1:29)
  7. Stories (3:27)
  8. The Camp/Forced Entry (2:24)
  9. The Cage (3:57)
  10. River Crash/The Gunboat (3:37)
  11. Betrayed (4:24)
  12. Bring Him Up/The Eyes (2:06)
  13. Escape from Torture (3:41)
  14. Ambush (2:47)
  15. Revenge (6:16)
  16. Bowed Down (1:06)
  17. Pilot Over (1:54)
  18. Village Raid/Helicopter Fight (4:55)
  19. Home Flight (3:02)
  20. Day By Day (2:08)
  21. Peace in Our Life (3:19) - Frank Stallone

Other media[edit]

  • A novelization was written by David Morrell, author of the novel First Blood, on which the first Rambo film was based.
  • A tie-in video game was produced for ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 called Rambo. There was also an NES game as well as a Sega Master System game, and MSX and DOS games based on the film. Sega later adapted some of the battle scenes in the film for the 2008 arcade game Rambo.
  • Officially licensed knives from the film, based on Jimmy Lile's designs were made by both United Cutlery and Master Cutlery. Master Cutlery fabricated both a standard and Limited Edition version. The Master Cutlery versions are push tang construction, have a hollow aluminum cord gripped handle that contains an emergency survival kit, and a precision compass mounted in the pommel. The stainless guards incorporate standard and Phillips head screwdriver points in the design. They are 1/4" thick 420 J2 stainless blades.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "RAMBO - FIRST BLOOD PART II (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 28, 1985. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ It's Fade-Out for the Cheap Film As Hollywood's Budgets Soar: It's Fade-Out for Films Once Made on the Cheap By ALJEAN HARMETZSpecial to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Dec 1989: C19.
  3. ^ a b "Rambo: First Blood Part II". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills: Official Ballot" (PDF). AFI.com. Retrieved July 18, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Action 25 Films: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly at Wayback Machine. January 30, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  6. ^ an Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma was used to represent the Mi-24
  7. ^ We Get to Win This Time, 2002, Artisan Entertainment
  8. ^ BROESKE, P. H. (1985, Oct 27). THE CURIOUS EVOLUTION OF JOHN RAMBO. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/154252710?accountid=13902
  9. ^ headgeek (December 16, 2006). "Stallone answers December 9th & 10th Questions in a double round - plus Harry's Seen ROCKY BALBOA...". Aint It Cool News. 
  10. ^ Spectacular Bodies: Gender, Genre and the Action Cinema. 
  11. ^ Wilmington, Michael (May 22, 1985). "Movie Review : Why A 'Rambo Ii'? For Muddiest Of Reasons". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 26, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II". rottentomatoes.com. May 24, 1985. 
  13. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 

External links[edit]