Rambo (film series)
by David Morrell
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures
|1982 – present|
|Box office||$727.8 million|
Rambo is a film series based on the David Morrell novel First Blood and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a troubled Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who is skilled in many aspects of survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat and guerrilla warfare. The series consists of the films First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988) and Rambo (2008).
- 1 Films
- 2 Upcoming
- 3 Bollywood remake
- 4 Other potential projects
- 5 Characters
- 6 Additional crew & production details
- 7 Box office performance
- 8 Reception
- 9 Other media
- 10 Music
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
|Film||Release date||Director||Screenwriter(s)||Story by||Producers|
|First Blood||October 22, 1982||Ted Kotcheff||Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim & Sylvester Stallone||Buzz Feitshans|
First Blood Part II
|May 22, 1985||George P. Cosmatos||Sylvester Stallone & James Cameron||Kevin Jarre|
|Rambo III||May 25, 1988||Peter MacDonald||Sheldon Lettich & Sylvester Stallone||Buzz Feitshans, Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna|
|Rambo||January 25, 2008||Sylvester Stallone||Art Monterastelli & Sylvester Stallone||Avi Lerner, Kevin King Templeton and John Thompson|
|Rambo V||Fall 2019||Matt Cirulnick & Sylvester Stallone||Avi Lerner and Kevin King|
First Blood (1982)
Upon returning to the United States, Vietnam veteran John Rambo has difficulty adjusting to civilian life and wanders the country as a drifter for almost a decade. In December 1981, Rambo travels to the fictional town of Hope, Washington, in search of a U.S. Army Special Forces buddy named Delmore Barry. Rambo arrives at Delmore's supposed residence and finds Delmore's little daughter and his depressed widow. Delmore's widow tells Rambo that her husband died from cancer the previous summer due to exposure to Agent Orange, and that she must eke out a living as a cleaning lady and on Delmore's Service member's Group Life Insurance. Rambo, attempting some cold comfort, gives Mrs. Barry the photograph of Delmore's unit.
He is left with a mild sense of survivor's guilt as he is now the last man still living of his once-proud unit (known in the Army Special Forces as Operational Detachment Alpha or "A" teams). He is filled with a thirst for vengeance and becomes who he is Rambo He then travels to Hope in the attempt to find a diner and maybe a temporary job. The overconfident town sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), does not welcome Rambo, judging the military hero negatively because of his long hair and scruffy look. Rambo disobeys the sheriff's order to stay away from Hope, as he has done nothing wrong to the community and he believes such banishment to be a violation of his freedom of movement, and is promptly charged for vagrancy and subject to harassment from the deputies, who spray him with a hose, beat him, and try to shave his beard while he is held down.
The harassment triggers flashbacks of Rambo's traumatic memories of his torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese when he was a prisoner of war, and his mind regresses into thinking he is once again fighting in combat. Rambo fights his way out of the sheriff's department with his bare hands and makes his way into the wilderness on a stolen motorcycle. A manhunt ensues. The sheriff and his deputies cannot win against Rambo in the forest, and indeed, all are badly wounded as a result of trying to capture him. Rambo deals with them efficiently and although capable of doing so, he doesn't kill any of them. He does unintentionally kill a police officer in self-defense by throwing a rock at a helicopter, causing the pilot to lose control and an officer to fall out. The Washington State Patrol and about 200 members of the Washington Army National Guard are called in to assist.
At this point, Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna), the former commanding officer of Rambo's old Special Forces unit, arrives in Hope. Trautman warns that continuing the manhunt is dangerous to the authorities, as Rambo is too experienced to be captured easily in the wilderness where he thrives. He instead suggests giving Rambo a chance to escape; if Rambo is allowed to slip away, he'll be given time to calm down and he can be arrested without incident. The authorities reject Trautman's recommendation and continue the manhunt, and Rambo's subsequent rampage culminates in the destruction of the sheriff's office and more of the town's main street. Rambo stands poised to eliminate the sheriff, but Trautman finally confronts Rambo face-to-face, and ultimately convinces his former soldier to surrender to the authorities.
Between the first and second films, Rambo is convicted and remanded to a civilian maximum-security prison where heavy duty labor is the norm. Despite being a convict, the rigid routine and discipline of prison life provides Rambo with some measure of much-needed stability, as it reminds him of his past in the military and its own rigid hierarchy.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
In the second installment of the series in 1985, Trautman offers Rambo his freedom if Rambo will return to Vietnam to search for American prisoners of war remaining in Vietnamese captivity. Marshall Murdock (Charles Napier), the official in charge of the mission, is portrayed as a corrupt political figure who doesn't want to expose the truth. Rambo is not to engage the enemy and instead is ordered to take photographs of a North Vietnamese military base to prove to the American public there are no more POWs (prisoners of war) in Vietnam, although Murdock knows that there are.
Rambo is sent to a part of the jungle where Murdock receives confirmation that no POWs were being held at the time. Rambo works with anti-communist Vietnamese female rebel Co Bao (Julia Nickson), who is serving as an intelligence agent. Rambo discovers that there is a POW camp where he was dropped; POWs are rotated between camps, and coincidentally are nearby when he was dropped. Rambo breaks one POW out of the camp and attempts to escape, only to be refused access to the base by Murdock and to have himself and the POW recaptured by the Vietnamese soldiers. Rambo is immobilized in a pit of sewage and leeches, then tortured by Soviet soldiers, who are allied with the Vietnamese and training Vietnamese soldiers. Co enters the base under the guise of a prostitute for hire, where she aids Rambo in escaping. After Rambo expresses his deepest gratitude for his rescue, the two share a kiss, after Co implores him to take her back to America with him. As they prepare to move on, Co is shot down by surprise gunfire.
Enraged, Rambo then acts on his own initiative and starts a one-man rescue mission, stealing a Soviet helicopter and breaking all the POWs out of captivity. After returning to the US base in Thailand with all the POWs, Rambo becomes enraged at how the United States government has ignored the existence of surviving soldiers being held captive. Rambo then threatens Murdock and tells him to be forthright with the American public regarding the truth of the POWs and to spare no expense in rescuing them all, or else he will return for Murdock. When Trautman says Rambo will be honored once again, he declines, saying the POWs deserve the accolades more. For his actions in Vietnam, Rambo is granted a presidential pardon and decides to remain in Thailand.
Between the second and third films, Rambo takes up residence near a monastery where he engages in frequent meditation to find a sense of inner peace. Although Rambo believes his soldiering days are apparently over, he does not become a complete pacifist, as he often participates in violent stick fighting matches and donates his winnings to the monks to help renovate the monastery.
Rambo III (1988)
The film opens with Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) returning to Thailand to once again enlist Rambo's help. After witnessing Rambo's victory in a stick fighting match, Trautman visits the temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistan. This brings Rambo more into the realm of the CIA's famed Special Activities Division which primarily hires Army Special Forces soldiers. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan freedom fighters, the Mujahideen, who are fighting the Soviets. Despite having been shown photos of civilians suffering under the Soviet rule, Rambo 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 tortured for information by commanding officer Zaysen (Marc de Jonge) and his henchman Kourov (Randy Raney). Rambo learns of the incident from embassy field officer Robert Griggs (Kurtwood Smith) and immediately flies to Pakistan where he meets up with Mousa (Sasson Gabai), 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 convinced not to help him when their village is attacked by Soviet helicopters after one of Mousa's shop assistants informed the Russians of Rambo's presence. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid (Doudi Shoua), Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his attempts to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and results in Hamid getting shot in the leg, and Rambo himself getting hit by wooden shrapnel. 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 flamethrower. After rescuing several other prisoners, Rambo steals a helicopter and escapes from the base. The helicopter crashes and Rambo and Trautman are forced to continue on foot. After a confrontation in a cave, where Rambo and Trautman kill several Russian soldiers including Kourov, they are confronted by an entire army of Russian tanks, headed by Zaysen. Just as they are about to be overwhelmed by the might of the Soviet Army, the Mujahideen warriors, together with Mousa and Hamid, ride onto the battlefield in a cavalry charge, overwhelming the Russians despite their numerical and technological superiority. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and Rambo are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank into the helicopter in which Zaysen is flying.
At the end of the battle Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to their Mujahideen friends, and leave Afghanistan to go home.
The film opens with news footage of the crisis in Burma. Burma (also known as Myanmar) 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 a Burmese army unit, overseen by Major Pa Tee Tint.
Former U.S. soldier John Rambo still lives in Thailand, now residing in a village near the Burmese border and makes a living capturing snakes and selling them in a nearby village. A missionary, Michael Burnett (Paul Schulze), asks Rambo to take him and his associates down the Salween River to Burma on a humanitarian mission to help the Karen people. Rambo initially refuses but is convinced by another missionary in the group, Sarah Miller (Julie Benz), to take them.
The boat is stopped by pirates who demand Sarah in exchange for passage. After taking advantage of the pirates' complacency, Rambo kills them all. Although his actions save the missionaries, it greatly disturbs them. Upon arrival, Michael says that they will travel by road and will not need Rambo's help for the return trip. The mission goes well until the Burmese army, led by Major Tint, attacks the village, killing most of the villagers and two missionaries, and capturing the rest. When the missionaries fail to come back after ten days, their pastor, Arthur Marsh (Ken Howard), comes to Rambo to ask for his help in guiding hired mercenaries to the village where the missionaries were last seen.
Troubled by Sarah's potential fate, Rambo decides to accompany the soldiers. After seeing the destroyed village filled with mutilated humans and animals, Rambo encourages the team to move on. Hijacking a truck, they create a plan to save the hostages at the P.O.W. camp, doing so within fifteen minutes to avoid alerting the army. Rambo helps Sarah and the others to escape. The Burmese Army (Tatmadaw) unit finds their hostages missing and organizes a massive manhunt. Everyone except for Rambo, Sarah, and "School Boy", the mercenary team's sniper, is captured. Just as the group is to be executed, Rambo hijacks a truck-mounted .50-caliber machine gun and engages the Burmese army. A group of Karen rebels joins the fight to help Rambo and the mercenaries defeat the Burmese unit. Seeing that the battle is lost, Major Tint decides to flee, only to run into Rambo's machete, which Rambo then uses to disembowel the Major.
Encouraged by Sarah's words, Rambo returns to the United States. The last scene shows him walking along a rural highway, past a horse farm and a rusted mailbox with the name "R. Rambo" on it. He makes his way down the gravel driveway as the credits roll.
Rambo V (2019)
After previously stating that he had retired the character, Rambo V was announced in March of 2018, with Stallone signed on to write the script as well as to star as the titular hero. The film is scheduled to be released in fall 2019. The plot is said to include Rambo taking on a Mexican Cartel in order to save a friend's daughter who is being held hostage by them. On May 7, 2018 Stallone posted an image on Instagram announcing the film, and confirming the intended release date for Fall 2019.  Rambo V shooting is set to begin in September in London, Bulgaria, and the Canary Islands. 
In May 2013, Original Entertainment confirmed to have sealed a five-picture deal with Millennium Films to produce Bollywood remakes of Rambo, The Expendables, 16 Blocks, 88 Minutes, and Brooklyn's Finest, with the productions for Rambo and The Expendables expected to start at the end of that year.
In early 2016, Siddharth Anand was announced as the director and the film will be co-produced by Anand, Daljit DJ Parmar, Samir Gupta, Hunt Lowry, Saurabh Gupta and Gulzar Inder Chahal. The film will specifically remake First Blood and will follow the last member of an elite unit in the Indian Armed forces returning home only to discover a different war waiting for him, forcing Rambo to the jungles and mountains of the Himalayas and unleash mayhem and destruction.
Other potential projects
- This table shows the characters and the actors who have portrayed them throughout the franchise
- Italics indicate the actor only appears in flashbacks via archive footage from previous films
- A dark grey cell indicates the character was not in the film
- A V indicates the actor or actress lent only his or her voice for his or her film character.
- An A indicates an appearance through archival footage.
First Blood Part II
|Rambo III||Rambo||Rambo V|
|John Rambo||Sylvester Stallone|
|Sam Trautman||Richard Crenna||Richard Crenna
|Sheriff Will Teasle||Brian Dennehy|
|Deputy Art Galt||Jack Starrett|
|Marshall Murdock||Charles Napier|
|Co-Bao||Julia Nickson||Julia Nickson
|Lieutenant Tay||George Kee Cheung|
|Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky||Steven Berkoff|
|Colonel Zaysen||Marc de Jonge|
|Robert Griggs||Kurtwood Smith|
|Mousa Ghani||Sasson Gabai|
|Michael Burnett||Paul Schulze|
|Sarah Miller||Julie Benz|
|School Boy||Matthew Marsden|
|Reese||Jake La Botz|
Additional crew & production details
|First Blood||Jerry Goldsmith||Andrew Laszlo||Joan E. Chapman||Anabasis N.V.,
|Orion Pictures||1hr 33min|
First Blood Part II
|Jack Cardiff||Larry Bock, Mark Goldblatt, Mark Helfrich, Gib Jaffe & Frank E. Jiminez||Carolco Pictures||TriStar Pictures||1hr 36min|
|Rambo III||John Stanier||O. Nicholas Brown, Andrew London, James R. Symons & Edward Warschilka||1hr 41min|
|Rambo||Brian Tyler||Glen MacPherson||Sean Albertson||Nu Image Films,
Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH & Co. KG IV
for Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films,
Rogue Marble Productions
The Weinstein Company,
|Rambo V||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA||TBA||[to be determined]|
Box office performance
|Film||Release date (US)||Budget||Box office revenue|
|First Blood||October 22, 1982||$15,000,000||$47,212,904||$78,000,000||$125,212,904|
|Rambo: First Blood Part II||May 22, 1985||$25,500,000||$150,415,432||$149,985,000||$300,400,432|
|Rambo III||May 25, 1988||$62,000,000||$53,715,611||$135,300,000||$189,015,611|
|Rambo||January 25, 2008||$50,000,000||$42,754,105||$70,490,185||$113,244,290|
Ratings collected from film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
|First Blood||87% (38 reviews)||62 (7 reviews)||N/A|
|Rambo: First Blood Part II||30% (33 reviews)||N/A||N/A|
|Rambo III||36% (28 reviews)||36 (15 reviews)||B+|
|Rambo||37% (142 reviews)||46 (26 reviews)||A-|
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Home video and television
All four existing films in the Rambo series are available from Lionsgate by virtue of the studio's output deal with StudioCanal (the company that currently holds the underlying rights to the first three films) and Lionsgate itself co-producing the latter film (in partnership with The Weinstein Company). Paramount Pictures (via Trifecta Entertainment and Media) holds the television rights to the first three films, while Debmar-Mercury handles television distribution for the latter film on behalf of parent company Lionsgate.
David Morrell, author of the original First Blood novel, wrote novelizations (book adaptations) for the first two Rambo sequels. Morrell has said that he wrote the novelizations because he wanted to include characterization that he felt wasn't in Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III. Morrell did not write a novelization for the 2008 film, Rambo, as he felt the film's characterization matched that of the original First Blood novel.
Rambo: The Force of Freedom was an animated series that ran in 1986 where John Rambo leads a team called the Force of Freedom to fight an evil organization called S.A.V.A.G.E. (short for Specialist-Administrators of Vengeance, Anarchy and Global Extortion). 65 episodes were aired. Rambo and the Forces of Freedom spawned a line of toys.
In the late 1980s, Blackthorne Publishing published a few comics starring the character. One, titled Rambo III, adapted the film of the same name. Also, there was a comic simply titled Rambo featuring other adventures of the character. Rambo III was also published in a 3D version by Blackthorne.
On August 21, 2013, it was announced that Entertainment One, along with Avi Lerner and his production company, Nu Image, are to develop and produce a Rambo TV series and that Stallone is in talks to join the project. However Stallone's press representative has denied reports that Stallone will reprise Rambo on the small screen. On December 1, 2015, Deadline reporting that FOX are developing a Rambo TV series titled Rambo: New Blood with Stallone reprising his role as Rambo, while he, Lerner and Jeb Stuart will executive produced the series, Stuart will also be penning the script. The series will explore the complex relationship between Rambo and his son, J.R., an ex-Navy SEAL. Fox chairman and CEO Dana Walden has stated that Stallone is off as the producer of the series.
- Rambo – side-scrolling platformer based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Released for the NES
- Rambo – action RPG based on Rambo: First Blood Part II. Developed by Pack-In-Video for the MSX.
- Rambo: First Blood Part II - Released for Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Commodore 64, DOS, Master System and ZX Spectrum.
- Rambo III – Various games released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcades, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, Master System, Sega Genesis, and ZX Spectrum.
- Super Rambo Special - Released for MSX2.
- Rambo On Fire – Released for mobile phones.
- Rambo Forever - Released for mobile phones.
- Rambo Arcade - Sega 2-player light gun game, first released in Japan in 2008, in US in 2009 as a spiritual sequel to both Ghost Squad (deluxe cabinet) and The House of the Dead 4 (upright cabinet).
- Rambo: The Video Game - Released in 2014 for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
- Rambo: The Mobile Game - Released in 2015 for iOS devices.
Collectible card game
Soundtracks with music from the films were also released. The soundtracks for First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, and Rambo are available on iTunes. However, the soundtrack for Rambo III is not available on iTunes. For more on the music of the Rambo series, see the "Music" section below.
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The original scores for the first three films were composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. The music from the first and second films was performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the music from the third by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra. Goldsmith's main theme for Rambo was the basis for the end title song "It's a Long Road", performed by Dan Hill, part of the First Blood soundtrack.
The music for the first film is harsher and more dissonant than that for the sequels, as is keeping with the tone of the film. As such, it bears more of a resemblance to Goldsmith's output of the 1960s and 1970s than it does most of his work in the 1980s. The first film's score does use electronics but is primarily orchestral while the sequel scores incorporate heavier use of electronics. The second film's score is the most popular, being that it is the most exciting. The music in the third film is an extension of the style used in the second, but with a few new themes. Both sequels feature new themes for Rambo that are based on elements found in the original "It's a Long Road" theme, which is also heard in its original form in each film as well.
Because Goldsmith died in 2004, film composer Brian Tyler (The Expendables and The Fast and the Furious films) scored the fourth film. He reassured fans at the time of Goldsmith's death that his score would be based on Goldsmith's cues for the first three First Blood / Rambo pictures.
- Hunter, a novel which Rambo V was to be loosely based on before it changed directions
- The Intruder, an Indonesian film based on Rambo
- Son of Rambow, a comedy-drama film that references Rambo
- Setoodeh, Ramin (January 5, 2016). "Sylvester Stallone Is Retiring From Playing Rambo". Variety.
- "Sylvester Stallone In Line To Take on Mexican Cartel in Rambo 5". Deadline.
- "Rambo V Shooting Scheduled to begin in September". ComingSoon.
- McNary, Dave (May 15, 2013). "Original Ent. Plans Bollywood Remakes of 'Rambo,' 'Expendables' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- Dhar, Debanjan (February 1, 2016). "Director Siddharth Anand To Remake Hollywood Movie 'Rambo' After Remaking 'Knight And Day'". Story Pick. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- Brzeski, Patrick (May 18, 2017). "Cannes: Indian 'Rambo' Remake Finds Its Answer to Stallone (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
- "'Rambo' Reboot in the Works With 'Criminal' Director (Exclusive)". Hollywoodreporter. October 28, 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
- "First Blood (1982)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Rambo II (1985)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Rambo III (1988)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Rambo (2008)". Box Office Mojo.
- "Rambo Moviesat the Box Office". Box Office Mojo.
- "Rating for First Blood". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- "Rating for Rambo: First Blood Part II". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- "Rating for Rambo III". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- "Rating for Rambo". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
- Vlessing, Etan (August 21, 2013). "Sylvester Stallone In Talks For 'Rambo' TV Series". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Knox, David. "Reality Bites as Sly Stallone refuses to play Rambo". TV Tonight.
- Andreeva, Nellie (December 1, 2015). "'Rambo: New Blood' Father-Son TV Series In Works At Fox With Sylvester Stallone". Deadline.
- Topel, Fred (January 15, 2016). "'X-Men' Spinoff 'Hellfire Club' May Premiere Early 2017; Plus a Minor 'Rambo' Update". /Film.
- Rambo Arcade Game - Kotaku.
- JC Fletcher. "Rambo: The Video Game to emerge from the jungle at Gamescom". Engadget.
- Rob Hearn (September 15, 2015). "Rambo: The Mobile Game - I came here to rescue you from him". Pocket Gamer. Steel Media. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
- Fight Klub Cardgame - Need Register Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine.
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