Rambo: First Blood Part II

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Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo first blood part ii.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeorge P. Cosmatos
Screenplay bySylvester Stallone
James Cameron
Story byKevin Jarre
Based onJohn Rambo
by David Morrell
Produced byBuzz Feitshans
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited by
Music byJerry Goldsmith
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures[2]
Release date
  • May 22, 1985 (1985-05-22) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States[4]
Budget$25.5 million[5]
Box office$300.4 million[6]

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, with Charles Napier, Julia Nickson, and Steven Berkoff.

The film's plot is inspired by the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. In the film, Rambo gets released from prison in a deal with the U.S. government to document the possible existence of missing POWs in Vietnam, but with strict orders not to rescue them. When Rambo defies his orders, he is abandoned and forced to rely once more on his own brutal combat skills to save the POWs.

Despite mixed reviews, Rambo: First Blood Part II was a major worldwide box office blockbuster, with an estimated 42 million tickets sold in the US. It has become one of the most recognized and memorable installments in the series, having inspired countless rip-offs, parodies, video games, and imitations. Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie number 23 on its list of "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years".[7]


Three years after the events in Hope, Washington, former US Army Green Beret John Rambo receives a visit from his former mission commander and old friend, Col. Sam Trautman, at a rural labor work prison. With the Vietnam War now officially over, the public has become increasingly concerned over news that a small group of 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 undertake the operation in exchange for a pardon. In Thailand, he is taken to meet Marshall Murdock, the bureaucrat overseeing the operation. Rambo is temporarily reinstated into the US Army and instructed only to take pictures of the suspected POW camp and not to rescue any prisoners or engage enemy personnel, as they will be retrieved by a better equipped extraction team upon his return.

During his insertion, Rambo's parachute becomes tangled and breaks, causing him to lose his guns and most of his equipment, leaving him with only his knife, his bow, and his arrows. He meets his assigned contact, a young female Vietnamese intelligence agent named Co Bao, who arranges for a local band of river pirates 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 their escape, they are discovered by Vietnamese troops and attacked by an armored gunboat; causing the pirates to turn on them, revealing they swapped allegiance to the Vietnamese and intend to hand them over for a reward. Rambo kills the pirates and destroys the gunboat with an RPG while the POW and Co Bao swim to safety. Rambo asks Co to stay behind shortly before they reach the extraction point. The rescue helicopter is ordered by Murdock to abort the rescue, saying Rambo has violated his orders.

Co Bao watches as Rambo and the POW are recaptured and returned to the camp. When Trautman confronts him, Murdock reveals that he never intended to save the POWs, explaining that Congress expected Rambo to find nothing, and that even if he did, Murdock would simply leave him to die to avoid having to deal with the issue any further. Trautman is then told he will be removed from the mission to keep him from trying to help Rambo on his own.

Rambo learns that Soviet troops are working with the Vietnamese army. He is interrogated by the local liaison, Lieutenant Col. Podovsky, and his right-hand man, Sgt. Yushin. Upon learning of Rambo's mission from intercepted missives, Podovsky demands that Rambo broadcast a message to Murdock warning against any further rescue missions for the POWs. Meanwhile, Co infiltrates the camp disguised as a prostitute and hides under the hut where Rambo is being brutally tortured with electric shocks. Rambo refuses to cooperate, but relents when the prisoner he tried to save is threatened. As he begins to read the scripted comments, Rambo directly threatens Murdock, overpowers the Soviets, and escapes the camp with Co's help. Rambo agrees to take Co to the United States, and they kiss. As they start moving again, a small Vietnamese force attacks the pair and Co is killed during the assault. An enraged Rambo guns down the soldiers and buries Co in the mud.

Rambo snaps and, with the use of his knife and bow, he systematically dispatches the numerous Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers sent after him one after the other - even blowing up the Vietnamese officer who killed Co with an explosive arrow. After surviving a barrel bomb dropped by Yushin's helicopter, Rambo climbs on board and throws Yushin out of the cabin to his death. The pilot is forced out at gunpoint, and Rambo takes control. He lays waste to the prison camp and wipes out the rest of the enemy forces before extracting the POWs and heading towards friendly territory in Thailand. Podovsky, pursuing them in a helicopter gunship, seemingly shoots the chopper down and moves in for the kill. Having faked the crash, Rambo uses a rocket launcher to destroy the aircraft; killing Podovsky.

As he returns to base with the POWs, Rambo (after using the helicopter's machine gun to destroy Murdock's office) confronts the terrified Marshall with his knife; demanding that Murdock rescue the remaining POWs. Trautman tries to convince Rambo to return home now that he has been pardoned. When Rambo refuses, Trautman asks what he wants. An angry Rambo responds that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Trautman asks Rambo how he will live now, to which Rambo tersely says, "Day by day". With that, the film credits roll as Rambo walks off into the distance.



Development and writing[edit]

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.[8] Producers considered that Rambo would have a partner in the rescue mission of POWs. The producers allegedly wanted John Travolta to play Rambo's sidekick, but Stallone vetoed the idea.[9] Lee Marvin (who was considered to play Colonel Trautman in the first film) was offered the role of Marshall Murdock, but declined, leading to the role being played by Charles Napier.

Then up-and-coming screenwriter Kevin Jarre had written a story treatment that was liked by both the producers and Stallone, as Jarre later recalled in an interview:

"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 (Cameron had been recommended by David Giler who did some uncredited script work on the first film) which he was concurrently writing along with The Terminator and Aliens, both of which he would go on to direct. Cameron's first draft was titled First Blood II: The Mission.[10] 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 a 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 would take over scriptwriting duties, creating a final draft which differed from previous versions. Jarre would receive sole story credit, while Stallone and Cameron would get credited for the screenplay in the final film.

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.[11]

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."[12]: 42:00 


The film was shot between June and August 1984, and was shot on location in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, and Thailand. During filming, special effects man Clifford P Wenger, Jr. was accidentally killed by one of the film's explosions.[13]


Rambo: First Blood Part II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
ProducerJerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith chronology
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Explorers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra, although, Goldsmith uses heavily on electronic synthesized elements in the film score. 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 Flight (4:55)
  19. Home Flight (3:02)
  20. Day By Day (2:08)
  21. Peace in Our Life (3:19) – Frank Stallone



Unusually for the time, a teaser trailer for the film—then titled First Blood Part II: The Mission—was released in 3,000 theaters in the summer of 1984, over a year before its scheduled release date of August 1, 1985, and several months before any footage for the film was completed. Mario Kassar arranged this in order to capitalize off the popularity of the first film.[14][8] 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.[8]

Home media[edit]

The video sold 425,000 units, a record for a tape with a retail price of $79.95.[15][16]

Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on DVD on November 23, 2004, and a Blu-Ray release followed on May 23, 2008.[17] Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on November 13, 2018.[18]


Box office[edit]

Rambo: First Blood Part II opened in the US 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 $20,176,217 . Overall, the film grossed $150,415,432 in the US and Canada and $149,985,000 internationally, for a worldwide total of $300,400,432.[6] The movie broke various international box office records.[19] In France the film had a record opening day with 269,564 admissions.[20]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 33% based on 43 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."[21] 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.[22]

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."[23] 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 enroute 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."[24] 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."[25] 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."[26] 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."[27] 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."[28]

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.[29]


Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Sound Editing Frederick Brown Nominated
Razzie Award Worst Picture Buzz Feitshans Won
Worst Actor Sylvester Stallone Won
Worst Screenplay Won
James Cameron 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 was referenced in the 1985 episode of The Golden Girls, titled "On Golden Girls". Female characters seem to be aroused by John Rambo's muscular physique, and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) says: "I sat through it twice. You'll love it! He sweats like a pig and he doesn't put his shirt on!"[30][31]

Other media[edit]


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.

Video games[edit]

A tie-in video game was produced for ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 called Rambo. There was also Rambo for NES as well as a Rambo: First Blood Part II, for Sega. 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. In 2014 was released Rambo: The Video Game, based on the first three Rambo films.

The 1986 run-and-gun shooter arcade hit Ikari Warriors was originally 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 title Ikari among arcade players in Japan and North America, leading to the game being officially released as Ikari Warriors in North America. Stallone was friends with SNK's president at the time, and owned an Ikari Warriors arcade cabinet.[32]

In popular culture[edit]

  • Missing in Action, an American film inspired by Rambo: First Blood Part II[33]
  • Strike Commando, an Italian film described as an imitator of Rambo: First Blood Part II[34]
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux, an American parody film of Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III with colonel role reprised by Richard Crenna[35]
  • Second Blood, a Kuwaiti action film inspired by Rambo: First Blood Part II[36][37]
  • UHF is a 1989 comedy-parody film starring "Weird Al" Yankovic as a low-budget television station manager. Late in the film, Yankovic's character, George Newman, has a fantasy of in which he envisions himself as a Rambo-type soldier on mission to rescue Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) from a rival station owner's goons, during which Yankovic wears muscular body suit to imitate Stallone's physique. The fantasy sequence is a parody exaggeration of the action sequences in about the last third of Rambo: First Blood Part II. Stallone himself had initially agreed to make a cameo appearance in the sequence, but ultimately declined to do so.[38]


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  2. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  3. ^ "RAMBO – FIRST BLOOD PART II (15)". British Board of Film Classification. May 28, 1985. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "Film #14948: Rambo: First Blood Part II". Lumiere. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  5. ^ ALJEAN HARMETZ (December 7, 1989). "It's Fade-Out for the Cheap Film As Hollywood's Budgets Soar: It's Fade-Out for Films Once Made on the Cheap". New York Times. p. C19.
  6. ^ a b "Rambo: First Blood Part II". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  7. ^ "The Action 25 Films: The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". Entertainment Weekly at Wayback Machine. January 30, 2009. Archived from the original on February 3, 2009. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Rambo: First Blood Part II". catalog.afi.com. Retrieved June 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ We Get to Win This Time, 2002, Artisan Entertainment
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  11. ^ headgeek (December 16, 2006). "Stallone answers December 9th & 10th Questions in a double round – plus Harry's Seen ROCKY BALBOA ..." Aint It Cool News.
  12. ^ In Search of the Last Action Heroes. Gravitas Ventures. 2019.
  13. ^ "Clifford P Wenger, Jr". findagrave.com. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "US News: BRIEFLY - 'First Blood II' Trailers Filmed." Screen International, no. 451, Jun 23, 1984, pp. 6.
  15. ^ Bierbaum, Tom (May 21, 1986). "'Future' Cassettes Fail To Approach 500,000-Unit Goal". Variety. p. 1.
  16. ^ Schnurmacher, Thomas (March 29, 1986). "Students put their heads together for new driving service". Montreal Gazette. p. 35. Retrieved February 26, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II DVD Release Date". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  18. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Ultra HD Review | High Def Digest". ultrahd.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  19. ^ Tasker, Yvonne (October 2, 2012). Spectacular Bodies: Gender, Genre and the Action Cinema. ISBN 9781134873005.
  20. ^ Groves, Don (November 1, 1993). "French B.O. warms up to 'Jurassic'". Variety. p. 14.
  21. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  22. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II". Metacritic. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  23. ^ Canby, Vincent (May 26, 1985). "'Rambo' Delivers A Revenge Fantasy". The New York Times. H11.
  24. ^ "Film Reviews: Rambo: First Blood Part II". Variety. May 22, 1985. 14.
  25. ^ Siskel, Gene (May 22, 1985). "'Rambo': Cinematic soldiering whitewashes Vietnam". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 1, 3.
  26. ^ Wilmington, Michael (May 22, 1985). "Why a 'Rambo II'? For Muddiest of Reasons". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 1, 6.
  27. ^ Kael, Pauline (June 17, 1985). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 117.
  28. ^ Attansasio, Paul (May 22, 1985). "'Rambo': New Blood, Old Moves". The Washington Post. F1.
  29. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  30. ^ "The Golden Girls quotes". Quotes.net. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
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  32. ^ "「怒」を作った男" [The Man Who Made "Ikari"]. Continue. March 2001.
  33. ^ "War Movie Mondays, Missing in Action Movie Review". The Flick Cast. May 16, 2011. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
  34. ^ Lor. (1991). Variety's Film Reviews 1987-1988. Vol. 20. R. R. Bowker. There are no page numbers in this book. This entry is found under the header "November 25, 1987". ISBN 0-8352-2667-0.
  35. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 21, 1993). "Hot Shots, Part Deux". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved January 13, 2014.
  36. ^ "Kuvajtský profesionál Abdulhadi Al-Khayat: fotografování v posilovně"
  37. ^ "Kuwejcki film inspirowany serią 'Rambo' zyskuje datę premiery"
  38. ^ Cotter, Padraig (February 19, 2022). "Why Stallone Backed Out Of A Cameo In UHF's Rambo Parody Sequence". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on February 19, 2022. Retrieved March 26, 2022.

External links[edit]