Rambo (2008 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Produced by Avi Lerner
Kevin King Templeton
John Thompson
Written by Art Monterastelli
Sylvester Stallone
Based on Characters 
by David Morrell
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Julie Benz
Paul Schulze
Matthew Marsden
Graham McTavish
Rey Gallegos
Tim Kang
Jake La Botz
Maung Maung Khin
Ken Howard
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Glen MacPherson
Edited by Sean Albertson
Millennium Films
Nu Image Films
Emmett/Furla Films
for Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH[1]
Distributed by Lionsgate
The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • January 25, 2008 (2008-01-25)
Running time
92 minutes
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[2]
Box office $113.2 million

Rambo (also known as Rambo IV or John Rambo) is a 2008 American-German[1][3] independent[4] action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone reprising his famous role as Cold War/Vietnam veteran John Rambo. It is the fourth installment in the Rambo franchise, twenty years since the previous film Rambo III. This film is dedicated to the memory of Richard Crenna, who played Col. Sam Trautman in the first three films, and who died of heart failure in 2003.

The film is about a former United States Army Special Forces soldier, John Rambo, who is hired by a church pastor to help rescue a group of missionaries who were kidnapped by men from a brutal Burmese military regime.

The film grossed $113,244,290 during its run at the international box office. After its home video release, it grossed $41,500,683 in DVD sales.[5] The film had its cable television premiere on Spike TV on July 11, 2010. However, it was the extended cut that was broadcast, not the theatrical version. The extended cut was later released on Blu-ray two weeks later.


Twenty years after the events in Afghanistan, amid the political protests of the crisis in Burma, ruthless military officer Major Pa Tee Tint leads an army of Tatmadaw soldiers to pillage small villages in a campaign of fear. He watches with indifference as innocent villagers are forced into mine-infested marshes and orders his men to abduct the teenage boys of the villages to be drafted into his army.

Meanwhile, former soldier John Rambo now lives in Thailand, where he makes a living capturing and selling snakes as well as taxiing people up and down the Salween River in his boat. He is approached by missionary Michael Burnett who asks Rambo to ferry his group into Burma on a humanitarian mission to provide aid to Karen tribespeople. Rambo refuses, claiming that without weapons, there will be no changes, but is eventually persuaded by missionary Sarah Miller to make the trip.

During their trip, the boat is stopped by Burmese pirates who demand Sarah in exchange for passage. After negotiations fail, Rambo shoots the pirates. Michael is greatly disturbed at Rambo's actions; upon arriving in Burma, he says that the group will travel by road and will not need him for the return trip, and that he intends to report Rambo's actions to the authorities. The mission goes well until the Tatmadaw, led by Major Tint, suddenly attack, slaughtering most of the villagers and two missionaries and kidnapping the rest, including Michael and Sarah. When the missionaries fail to return, their pastor asks Rambo to guide a team of five mercenaries to the village where the missionaries were last seen.

Rambo agrees and accompanies the mercenaries to the drop-off. He offers to help but is refused by the team's leader Lewis, who demands he stay at the boat. As the mercenary team arrives at the village, they find it completely destroyed, filled with mutilated human and animal corpses. Shortly after, a squad of Tatmadaw soldiers show up with a group of hostages. The soldiers are playing a game, forcing prisoners to run through a rice paddy with landmines, and betting on the outcome. The team takes cover, reluctantly planning to let the hostages be killed in order to avoid provoking a response from a much larger group of soldiers. Having disregarded Rambo as a simple boatman, the mercenaries are shocked when he appears and single-handedly wipes out the entire squad of Tatmadaw soldiers with his bow and arrow, allowing the hostages to escape unscathed.

Rambo convinces the team to avenge the massacre and save the hostages at the P.O.W. camp. Rambo and the mercenaries infiltrate the camp and successfully locate and rescue Sarah and the other prisoners and flee with them. Tint quickly learns of the situation and musters his army to find them. Rambo manages to get rid of a pursuit team by making a booby trap from an unexploded Tallboy bomb from World War II. Ultimately, though, the Tatmadaw manage to capture everyone except for Rambo, Sarah, and the mercenary sniper School Boy. Just as the captured mercenaries and hostages are to be executed, Rambo hijacks a jeep-mounted machine gun and ignites an intense shootout. Tint hides as the firefight escalates and kills one of the missionaries. The Tatmadaw, having a large numerical advantage, come close to victory but the Karen rebels show up and join the fight, turning the tide of the battle. Tint, realizing his defeat, attempts to escape the area, but Rambo intercepts and disembowels him.

In the final scene, Rambo, encouraged by Sarah's words, has returned to the United States, walking along an Arizona highway until he sees a horse farm and a rusted mailbox. Reading the name "R. Rambo," Rambo smiles and walks down the gravel driveway as the credits roll.



In between the making of the third and fourth films in the Rambo franchise, the films' original producer, Carolco Pictures, went out of business. In 1997, Miramax Films purchased the Rambo franchise.[6] The following year, Miramax subsidiary Dimension Films intended to make another film, and a writer was hired to pen the script, but any attempts to make it were deterred by Stallone, who had stated that he no longer wanted to make action movies.[7] In 2005, the studio sold those rights to Nu Image/Millennium Films.[8]

Filming started on January 22, 2007 and ended on May 4, 2007. The movie was shot at Chiang Mai, Thailand as well as in Mexico and the United States in Arizona and California.

While filming near Burma, Stallone and the rest of the crew narrowly avoided being shot by the Burmese military. Stallone described Burma as a "hellhole". He said "we had shots fired above our heads" and that he "witnessed survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land-mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off."[9]

Alternative titles[edit]

John Rambo was the original working title for the film but was changed because Stallone thought that audiences might think that this is the final film in the Rambo series (due to the then recently released Rocky Balboa), which was not his original intent. In many other countries, the title John Rambo is kept because the first Rambo movie, First Blood, was released as Rambo in many foreign territories. The film premiered on television as Rambo, but the title sequence referred to it as John Rambo.

On October 12, 2007, Lionsgate announced that the film title was being changed to Rambo: To Hell and Back. After some negative feedback from the online community, Stallone spoke with AICN's Harry Knowles[10] and said:

"Lionsgate jumped the gun on this. I just was thinking that the title John Rambo was derivative of Rocky Balboa and might give people the idea that this is the last Rambo film, and I don't necessarily feel that it will be. He's definitely a superb athlete, there's no reason he can't continue onto another adventure. Like John Wayne with The Searchers."


Rambo: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by Brian Tyler
Released February 2008, 05 (05-02-2008)[11][12][13]
Length 75:59[12]
Label Lionsgate[11][13]
Producer Brian Tyler
Brian Tyler chronology
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
The Lazarus Project

Brian Tyler composed the original score for the film. Stallone wanted Tyler to incorporate Jerry Goldsmith's original themes into the movie. He did not rely on Goldsmith's actual theme, though he used it enough to tie this film to the others, musically, and also based his own theme and orchestrations on the style of the original to maintain the musical series. The soundtrack includes 20 tracks.[14][15] Tyler also coincidentally composed the soundtrack to The Hunted, a film noted with striking similarities to the first Rambo film, First Blood.[16][17]

Track listing

All music composed by Brian Tyler.

No. Title Length
1. "Rambo Theme"   3:34
2. "No Rules of Engagement"   7:09
3. "Conscription"   2:55
4. "The Rescue"   4:04
5. "Aftermath"   2:33
6. "Searching for Missionaries"   7:07
7. "Hunting Mercenaries"   2:43
8. "Crossing into Burma"   6:59
9. "The Village"   1:43
10. "Rambo Returns"   2:44
11. "When You Are Pushed"   2:26
12. "The Call to War"   2:51
13. "Atrocities"   1:40
14. "Prison Camp"   4:42
15. "Attack on the Village"   3:01
16. "Rambo Takes Charge"   2:22
17. "The Compound"   7:48
18. "Battle Adagio"   3:10
19. "Rambo Main Title"   3:30
20. "Rambo End Title"   2:58
Total length:


Box office[edit]

Rambo opened in 2,751 North American theaters on January 25, 2008 and grossed $6,490,000 on its opening day,[18] and $18,200,000 over its opening weekend. It was the second highest grossing movie for the weekend in the U.S. and Canada behind Meet the Spartans.[19] The film has a box office gross of $113,344,290, of which $42,754,105 was from Canada and the United States.[20]

In an unprecedented move, Europe's biggest cinema chain (and the third biggest in the world), Odeon, controversially refused to show the film on any of its screens in the United Kingdom, blaming "commercial differences".[21] UCI followed suit in its cinemas in Ireland which were managed by Odeon.[22] The film was, however, shown in Ireland and the United Kingdom by other theater chains such as Empire Cinemas, Vue, Cineworld and Ward Anderson. The film was not shown in the French-speaking part of Switzerland due to legal and commercial problems with the distributor, even if it was available on screens of France and the Swiss German-speaking part.[23]

Critical reception[edit]

Rambo received mixed reviews, with critics praising the film's action sequences and Stallone's performance, but criticizing the film's overly excessive amount of violence. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 37% "Rotten" rating, based on 142 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Sylvester Stallone knows how to stage action sequences, but the movie's uneven pacing and excessive violence (even for the franchise) is more nauseating than entertaining".[24] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[25]

In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, "Mr. Stallone is smart enough — or maybe dumb enough, though I tend to think not — to present the mythic dimensions of the character without apology or irony. His face looks like a misshapen chunk of granite, and his acting is only slightly more expressive, but the man gets the job done. Welcome back."[26] Michael H. Price of Fort Worth Business Press wrote, "Stallone invests the role with a realistic acceptance of the aging process, and with traces reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart in 1951’s The African Queen and Clint Eastwood in 1992’s Unforgiven — to say nothing of the influences that the original First Blood had absorbed from Marlon Brando in 1953’s The Wild One and Tom Laughlin in 1971’s Billy Jack."[27] Jonathan Garret (a former writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution) said in an interview: "Rambo is the most violent movie I have ever seen. The last 11 minutes of the film are so violent, it makes We Were Soldiers look like Sesame Street".

When asked what his take on the film was, First Blood writer David Morrell said:

I'm happy to report that overall I’m pleased. The level of violence might not be for everyone, but it has a serious intent. This is the first time that the tone of my novel First Blood has been used in any of the movies. It's spot-on in terms of how I imagined the character — angry, burned-out, and filled with self-disgust because Rambo hates what he is and yet knows it's the only thing he does well. ... I think some elements could have been done better, [but] I think this film deserves a solid three stars.[28][29]

Reception in Burma[edit]

The film is currently banned by the Burmese government. The military ruling party has ordered DVD vendors in Burma not to distribute the film due to the movie's content.[30] Despite having never been released there theatrically or on DVD, Rambo is, however, available there in bootleg versions. Despite the film being unpopular among some of the population due to the negative portrayal of the Tatmadaw, the opposition youth group Generation Wave copied and distributed the film as anti-Tatmadaw propaganda.[31]

According to Karen Freedom Fighters, the movie gave them a great boost of morale. Burmese freedom fighters have even adopted dialogue from the movie (most notably "Live for nothing, or die for something") as rallying points and battle cries. "That, to me," said Sylvester Stallone, "is one of the proudest moments I've ever had in film."[30] Also, overseas Burmese have praised the movie for its vivid portrayal of the military's oppression of the Karen people.[32]

Home media[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions were released in the U.S. on May 27, 2008. The DVD is in 1 and 2 disc editions. The Special edition has a 2.40 anamorphic widescreen presentation and a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. The single editions have a standard 5.1 Dolby Digital track. The Blu-ray Disc has Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS HD 7.1 Tracks. The DVD and Blu-ray Disc on disc one have the film, deleted scenes, 6 featurettes, and commentary by Sylvester Stallone. The Blu-ray Disc also has 2 extra special features, that includes a trailer gallery.

The 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions have a digital copy of the film. There is also a 6 disc DVD set of all four Rambo films, packaged in a limited edition tin case with over 20 bonus features. A Blu-ray Disc set with Rambo 1-3 was also released.[33][34][35]

The DVD was released in the UK on June 23, 2008.

The film was the 19th best selling DVD of 2008 with 1.7m units sold and an overall gross of $39,206,346.[5]

Extended cut[edit]

When asked about the moral of the film in a Daily Yomiuri Online interview, Sylvester Stallone mentioned that he will be doing an Extended Cut of the film, which will go by the original title of John Rambo.[36] Nevertheless, the news became most well known after a May 2008 interview with Jay Leno when he announced the work of a director's cut, and that the proceeds would go to Burma. On top of this, an online petition appeared shortly after the announcement in order to "motivate" Stallone in completing this new cut. At the 2008 Comic-Con, it was vaguely announced that the director's cut (or as they labeled it, "extended cut") would be released in 2009, though no other specifics were given.[37] Additionally, the director's cut premiered at the 2008 Zurich Film Festival.[38] DVD Active announced it would premiere only on Blu-ray Disc in Canada and the United States on July 27, 2010.

The extended cut's Blu-ray was released under the original title, "Rambo", however, the film replaces the original title with "John Rambo".[39] The extended cut reinstates most of the deleted/extended scenes featured in the theatrical version's 2-disc special edition release, as well as some unreleased footage and some significant alternations. The extended cut premiered on cable television (VIA Spike TV) on July 11, 2010, two weeks before its Blu-ray release. It then had its encore presentation on August 8 and August 9, 2010, promoting Stallone's then latest film The Expendables. The extended cut runs 99 minutes long, whereas the theatrical version runs 91 minutes. Of those run times the end credits roll for 11 minutes.


In February 2012, Sean Hood offered an update on his Twitter account stating that Rambo 5 is on hold as Stallone finishes The Expendables 2. Hood said that he hasn't decided if Rambo 5 will be an 'Unforgiven' or a 'passing of the torch.' Meanwhile, Stallone confirmed a fifth installment, saying this one would be the last one. Currently under the title, Rambo: Last Stand (some sources, including IMDB, state that the title will be Rambo: Last Blood), the film would bring Rambo to Arizona's Mexican border and to Mexico as well.[citation needed]Rumor also states that Rambo would be fighting ISIS[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b http://www.rambothefilm.com/credits.jpg
  2. ^ "Rambo 4 Gets a Budget!". MoviesOnline. 
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462499/
  4. ^ "It's a Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon (DVD/Blu-ray Special Feature)". Lionsgate Entertainment. 
  5. ^ a b "Movie Rambo - Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved November 9, 2015. 
  6. ^ Miramax Pulls A `Rambo'
  7. ^ Wolk, Josh (1998-06-17). "&34;Rambo&34;". Entertainment Weekly. 
  8. ^ Miramax Pulls A `Rambo'
  9. ^ "Sylvester Stallone describes Myanmar 'hellhole'". The New Zealand Herald. BANG Showbiz. October 3, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2011. 
  10. ^ Whoa Whoa Whoa... Who says it ain't gonna be called JOHN RAMBO? - Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news
  11. ^ a b "Rambo Soundtrack CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  12. ^ a b "Rambo 2008 Soundtrack — TheOST.com all movie soundtracks". TheoOST.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  13. ^ a b "Rambo Soundtrack (2008)". MovieMusic.com. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  14. ^ Other reviews by Mike Brennan (2008-03-30). "SoundtrackNet : Rambo Soundtrack". Soundtrack.net. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  15. ^ "Rambo by Brian Tyler "www.tracksounds.com", 2014-03-02
  16. ^ Travers, Peter (March 14, 2003). "The Hunted". Rolling Stone. 
  17. ^ B., Scott (March 13, 2003). "Review of The Hunted". IGN. 
  18. ^ Rambo (2008)
  19. ^ Yahoo! Movies - Weekend Box Office and Buzz
  20. ^ "Rambo 2008". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  21. ^ Hoyle, Ben (2008-02-22). "Rambo shot down in flames as cinema chain snubs latest film". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-02-24. 
  22. ^ UCI
  23. ^ "Pas d'écrans suisses pour George Clooney". Sortir.ch. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  24. ^ "Rambo Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-01-08. 
  25. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/rambo
  26. ^ Scott, A.O (January 25, 2008). "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Jungle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-01-25. 
  27. ^ ‘Rambo’ restores Stallone’s signature character to a near-original essence - Fort Worth Business Press
  28. ^ FAQ page at DavidMorell.net
  29. ^ "Rambo's Dad Talks". film.com. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  30. ^ a b Thomas Bell (18 February 2008). "Banned Rambo film hot property in Burma". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  31. ^ "AAPP Case No. 0062" (PDF). Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Retrieved 7 May 2011. 
  32. ^ Latest Rambo Movie Rouses Hopes in Burma on YouTube
  33. ^ Rambo DVD Release - DVD Active
  34. ^ Rambo 6 DVD Set - DVD Active
  35. ^ Rambo DVD and Blu-ray Disc details
  36. ^ "'I want people to be upset': Stallone hopes violence of 'John Rambo' will get people thinking". Daily Yomiuri Online/PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  37. ^ "SDCC 08: DVD Producers Panel". IGN. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  38. ^ "Rambo D.Cut premiere". JoBlo. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  39. ^ "Lionsgate Home Entertainment are to release an extended cut this July 27th". DVD Active. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  40. ^ [1]

External links[edit]