Rambo (2008 film)

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Rambo IV
Rambo (2008) poster.jpg
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 date
  • 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 John Rambo or Rambo IV) is a 2008 American independent action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone[3] reprising his iconic role as Vietnam veteran John Rambo. It is the fourth and final installment in the Rambo franchise, set twenty years after the events of the previous film, Rambo III. This film is dedicated to the memory of Richard Crenna, who played the character Colonel Sam Trautman in the previous three films, and who died of heart failure in 2003.

The film is about John Rambo (Stallone), a hardened former Green Beret, who is hired by a church pastor to help rescue a group of Christian missionaries who were kidnapped by men from a brutal Burmese military regime.

The film was released on January 25, 2008. Upon its release, Rambo received a mixed reception from film critics who generally praised its acting, action sequences, and soundtrack by Brian Tyler, but were critical of its writing and plot. The film grossed $113,244,290 during its run at the international box office and $41,500,683 in DVD sales.[4] 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 released on Blu-ray two weeks later.

Despite not being as successful as the previous films, Stallone had confirmed that a sequel titled Rambo: Last Blood was still in the works but was converted into a reboot for the series.[5] This film was ultimately cancelled in January 2016.[6]


Amid the political protests of the Saffron Revolution in Burma (Myanmar), ruthless SPDC officer Major Pa Tee Tint leads an army to pillage small villages in a campaign of fear. His soldiers sadistically slaughter innocents, abduct teenage boys to be drafted into his army and hold women hostage to be raped as sex slaves. Meanwhile, twenty years after the events in Afghanistan, John Rambo now lives in Thailand, making a meager living as a snake catcher and by providing boat rides but still mourning the death of his good friend Sam Trautman. A doctor and missionary named Michael Burnett hires Rambo to use his boat to ferry their group up the Salween River into Burma on a humanitarian mission to provide medical aid to a village of Karen tribespeople.

During the trip, the boat is stopped by pirates demanding Sarah Miller, the only female in the group, in exchange for passage. Rambo is forced to kill them to protect her. Michael is greatly disturbed by Rambo's actions and upon arriving at their destination sends him back, claiming they no longer want his help. The village the missionaries are giving care to is attacked by Tint's soldiers. The missionaries are abducted and the villagers are all savagely massacred.

The pastor of the missionaries' church comes to Thailand and asks Rambo to guide a team of five mercenaries on a rescue mission. Rambo takes the mercenary team to the drop-off point and offers to help but the team leader Lewis, a former SAS soldier, refuses. Myint, a Karen rebel familiar with the area, leads the mercenaries to the village of the massacre. As they survey the damage, a squad of Tint's soldiers arrive in a cargo truck with a small group of hostages, intent on torturing them. Outnumbered, the mercenaries take cover and watch helplessly as the soldiers prey on their hostages. Having secretly followed the mercenaries, Rambo emerges in time to singlehandedly kill all the soldiers with his bow and arrows, allowing the hostages to escape unharmed. Rambo joins the mercenary team and they make their way to Tint's soldier's camp. They stealthily rescue the American missionaries and Burmese hostages and flee under cover of night.

The next morning, Tint and his soldiers pursue them and manage to capture everyone except for Rambo, Sarah and School Boy, the mercenaries' sniper. Rambo saves them from being executed by hijacking Tint's jeep mounted with an M2 Browning machine gun, where he ignites a massive shootout in the jungle in which he guns down much of Tint's army and a firefight ensues between the mercenaries and Tint's soldiers. Several of the missionaries and mercenaries are killed. The Karen rebels, led by Myint, arrive and join the fight, helping to overwhelm Tint's soldiers and kill them all. After realizing his defeat, Tint attempts to escape, but Rambo intercepts and kills him by disemboweling him with his survival knife.

Some time later, Rambo returns to the United States to finally visit his father at his home in Arizona.



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.[7] The following year, Miramax subsidiary Dimension Films intended to make another film, and a writer was hired to write the script, but attempts to make it were deterred by Stallone, who had stated that he no longer wanted to make action movies.[8] In 2005, the studio sold those rights to Nu Image/Millennium Films.[7]

Stallone stated that due the small production budget the only way to make the film memorable was to make it graphically violent. He said "we were all sitting around in looking at the small production budget". Then I said "Hey, fake blood is cheap, lets make it all out bloody." Filming started on January 22, 2007 and ended on May 4, 2007. It was shot in 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 in the US 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 used because the first Rambo film, First Blood, was released as Rambo in those countries. The film premiered on US 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
(2007)Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem2007
The Lazarus Project
(2008)The Lazarus Project2008

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 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 composed the soundtrack to The Hunted, a film noted to be similar 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: 75:59


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.[18]

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, due to a dispute with its British distributor Sony Pictures over rental terms for the film.[20] The film was 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.[21]

Critical reception[edit]

Rambo received mixed reviews, with critics praising the film's action sequences and Stallone's performance, but criticizing the film's excessive 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".[22] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 46 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[23] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[24]

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."[25] 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."[26] 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".[citation needed]

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.[27][28]

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.[29] 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.[30]

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."[29] Also, overseas Burmese have praised the movie for its vivid portrayal of the military's oppression of the Karen people.[31]

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.[32][33][34]

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.[4]

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.[35] 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.[36] Additionally, the director's cut premiered at the 2008 Zurich Film Festival.[37] 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".[38] 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.

Cancelled Sequel[edit]

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.[39]

On January 5, 2016, Sylvester Stallone stated a fifth film is no longer in production.[40]


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  15. ^ "Rambo by Brian Tyler "www.tracksounds.com", 2014-03-02
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  18. ^ a b "Rambo (2008)". Box Office Mojo. 
  19. ^ "Yahoo! Movies - Weekend Box Office and Buzz". 
  20. ^ "Odeon survives rumble with 'Rambo'". Variety. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2017-08-21. 
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  27. ^ "FAQ page at DavidMorell.net". 
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  34. ^ "Revista Toxicshock - La información más mordaz". www.toxicshock.tv. 
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  38. ^ "Lionsgate Home Entertainment are to release an extended cut this July 27th". DVD Active. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  39. ^ Malm, Sara (13 July 2015). "Rambo takes on ISIS: Sylvester Stallone reveals iconic movie hero will fight terrorists in Syria and Iraq in final movie Last Blood". Daily Mail. 
  40. ^ Setoodeh, Ramin (January 5, 2016). "Sylvester Stallone Is Retiring From Playing Rambo". Variety. 

External links[edit]