The Universe: I christen thee “The Rambo-verse”
The Movies: First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part 2, Rambo 3, Rambo and Rambo: Last Blood
The Big Picture: Sylvester Stallone stars as Vietnam Vet John J. Rambo, who while still struggling with the death and destruction he saw in the war, somehow ends up killing a ton of people every few years. Seriously in First Blood they say he had 54 confirmed kills his entire time in the war and then he kills twice as many in like 2 days in Rambo 3.
First Blood (1982)
Rambo Mullet Forecast: Classy
RECAP – Vietnam Vet John J. Rambo wanders into the small town of Hope Washington looking for an old army buddy. Once he finds out he’s dead, he slowly wanders out. On the way the town’s Sheriff Will Teasle, takes one look at Rambo, with his army jacket with an American flag on it, doesn’t like the cut of his jib, and drives him out of town. When Rambo starts to walk back into town Teasle arrests him. During his booking, Rambo is abused by the local cops and when one tries to shave him, he has a PTSD flashback, freaks out, beats the crap out of them, and escapes. Teasle and his collection of Barney Fife -esque deputies track Rambo into the woods, where Rambo attacks them with tree branches and knifes, eventually killing a deputy by knocking him our of a helicopter with a rock. Yes, you read that right, he KNOCKED HIM OUT OF A HELICOPTER… WITH A ROCK. So Teasle calls in more state police to track him down and in the middle of this arrives Rambo’s old commanding office Col. Trautman who explains to Teasle, Rambo was trained to kill, ignore pain and is an expert at guerrilla warfare. Teasle ignores him because he has Rambo trapped in an old mine and is about to go get him. But one of his Barney Fife deputies jumps the gun and blows up the mine. Rambo escapes, steals some military grade weapons and commences to blow up a gas station as a distraction so he can go to the Sheriff’s office and kill Teasle. He almost does until Trautman steps in and talks to him. Rambo gives a monologue about how tough its been for him since he got back from the war and surrenders. Trautman escorts Rambo off to jail.
REVIEW – Compared to the others, this movie feels really small and that’s a good thing. Its also a movie with something to say about the way Vietnam vets were treated as opposed to the later installments which are about how many different ways Rambo could can blow things up. And Rambo is almost normal at the beginning, he just seems like a regular guy, kinda down on his luck. That said, what the fuck is this movie? Its like this and the later installments are a product of their time and therefore are SO dated. The Sheriff HATES Rambo because he can tell by the flag on his jacket and long hair, that he is a war vet. What?! A small town sheriff conservative sheriff hates the flag? Also Rambo is brutalized by Teasle’s police department for no reason, which is oddly relevant in June 2020. If you only read the screenplay for this you’d just assume Rambo was being played by Wesley Snipes. But its still weird watching the “hero” of the movie kill cops. I’m not saying he’s not justified, but its just weird and unsettling. Also Rambo’s PTSD is shown in flashes during his torture by the cops, and then never alluded to again. I did appreciate Trautman. He could have just come in and rattled off Rambo’s backstory but he ends up being instrumental to Rambo’s monologue where he surrenders. But the way Stallone delivers it, I think he just assumed this it was the clip they would play at the Oscars before they gave him the award. It is that good? No. Not in the slightest. Lets just say, Stallone was screaming dramatically WAY before Al Pacino ever did. This is supposed to be the best of the series, which may not bode well for what comes later.
The “Making FETCH happen” Award for line of dialog trying to be a pop culture catchphrase: Nothing is over! Nothing!
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Colonel Trautman escorts Rambo goes to JAIL for all the people he killed. Weird right?
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
Rambo Mullet Forecast: Killing in the front, PARTY in the BACK!
RECAP – Colonel Trautman can get Rambo out of jail if he agrees to go back to Vietnam and see if a Vietnamese camp is holding American POW’s. Rambo agrees and flies to Thailand where a bureaucrat named Murdock tells Rambo he is not to engage only take pictures. Rambo meets his contact the lovely “Co” who sneaks him on a boat to check out the camp. When Rambo arrives he not only sees its full of POWs but its also being run by the Russians, which I’m sure is historically accurate and we just didn’t get to that part in my American history class in middle school, high school and college cause we spent WAY too much time on the American Revolution. Almost a month on the American Revolution and then everything from 1965 on is crammed into the last two weeks of classes. Rambo decides the hell with bringing back pictures, he’s bringing back a POW. Rambo and the POW are chased to his extraction point, but Murdock cancels the pick up at the last minute and Rambo is captured. Rambo is tortured by the Russians and told that Murdock called off his rescue. Rambo is rescued by Co and they escape. As soon as Co declares they are out of danger, they kiss and she is immediately killed by the Russian and Vietnamese soldiers. Rambo kills a bunch of people and makes his way back to the POW camp and picks up all the POWs, kills the Russians and flies back to camp. After he arrives he shoots up the place and threatens to kill Murdock unless he promises to get the POW’s that may still be out there. Trautman begs Rambo not to hate his country for what the government has done. Rambo then gives a yelly-Oscar bait monologue about wanting the government to love America the way he and his fellow Vietnam vets do. He then walks off… into Thailand… cause… I don’t think he thought that part out very well.
REVIEW – So this is where Rambo from First Blood becomes Pop Culture’s RAMBO. Gone are the days of being harassed by cops and murdering them. Rambo in this movie is almost like James Bond. He gets a mission, he gets a bunch of gear and then he goes off and kills the bad guys. And those people in Washington State he killed a few years back… Well we don’t need to talk about that. These movies are also weirdly political but their political point of view falls down on the side of things no one would disagree with, except the bad guys which makes their POV not make any sense. Why in the hell would Murdock try and suppress info on American Soldiers still being held in Vietnam? Because then we’d have to go get them? Really? Also aside from Trautman, I am realizing there is not much of a supporting cast in these movies, so don’t get attached to characters like Co, who I really liked and then she was almost instantly killed. And when does Rambo have time to set up these elaborate booby traps he uses to kill his enemies? One second he’s disguised himself as a wall of mud, the next he pops out of a shallow pond, then he’s jumping out of a tree. I hope they explain eventually how he can stop time, set these intricate traps and then move great distances in a matter of seconds to be in the exact same place he needs to be to set the next one off.
The “Making FETCH happen” Award for line of dialog trying to be a pop culture catchphrase: SO MANY!
After not killing Murdock “Mission… accomplished.”
“It’s like someone invites you to a party and you don’t show up. It doesn’t really matter”
But my fave is the over dramatic: “Sir, do we get to win this time?”
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Rambo has to stop wandering around Thailand eventually… right?
Rambo III (1988)
Rambo Mullet Forecast: AWESOME! GLORIOUS!
RECAP – Seriously I just want to go on and on about Stallone’s mullet in this one. It is so perfect and they have so many shots of the wind hitting it just right or Stallone turning around in tight close up so his mullet can be shown in all its glory. The film’s greatest flaw is its missing a shot of it in slo-mo. Okay so the plot… Stallone’s mullet finally stopped wandering around Thaliand to be a part time stick fighting champion / construction worker at a monastery. (Rambo is apparently ALL the Village people in this one) Trautman and Red Foreman find him and ask him to go on a mission to Afghanistan. Rambo’s mullet refuses because he’s done fighting and…. GOD THAT MULLET IS AWESOME.
When Trautman goes without him and is captured, Rambo takes his mullet and a bunch of glow sticks, (You heard me glow sticks. They spend a lot of time in this movie talking about and using glow sticks) and goes to Afghanistan to rescue him. When he gets there Rambo befriends the Afghan rebels, The Mujahideen, (More on that later) and asks them to help him rescue Trautman. They are about to agree but the Russians attack the camp because they heard Rambo was there to rescue his friend. So Rambo takes his glowsticks, his guide and a kid to the Russian camp to find Trautman. But things go sideways fast, the kid is shot, he’s impaled by a stick, he can’t figure out which key on the comically large key chain opens Trautman’s cell door. So Rambo retreats, uses a bullet to heal his wound and returns to rescue Trautman. He and Trautman escape and hide in a large cave where Rambo uses his glow sticks to create booby traps and exploding arrows to kill off all their pursuers. He and Trautman make it out only to be surrounded by the Russian army. And when all is lost the Mujahideen arrive and attack The Russians, leaving Rambo time to steal a tank and ram it into the Russian General’s helicopter. You heard me RAM IT INTO A HELICOPTER. Afterwards Rambo and Trautman drive off into the desert… to… somewhere.
REVIEW – Why didn’t anyone tell me this movie was so funny? Because it is. Its ridiculous. It might be my favorite. Its certainly my favorite Rambo mullet. I wrote down so many things. I have so many questions like how are the bad guys able to hit everyone BUT Rambo. I mean a the hit people on either side of him, a kid got shot, but not Rambo. At least stormtroopers miss everyone, not JUST Luke Skywalker. Also I think Rambo’s knife gets comedically bigger every movie. The knife in this one was huge. He used it to dig up a landmine with a flick of the wrist. Rambo also spends a lot of time in the sun with no shirt, like enough he should worry about skin cancer. This movie even steals a bit from Raising Arizona when Stallone kills a guy by pulling the pin out of a grenade on his jacket, like H.I. does to Leonard Smalls. And the glow sticks… someone must have shown Stallone glow sticks right before they started filming this because they are everywhere. Rambo makes a point of showing them off when he checks his gear, he uses them for going through caves, as booby traps 3 or 4 times. Its hilarious. But the strangest thing again is that this movie is again weirdly political. Rambo is constantly talking up the Afghan “Rebels” The Mujahideen who come in at the end of the movie like extras from Lawrence of Arabia to save Rambo and Trautman. Except what Stallone and Rambo and his mullet don’t know is that in real life eventually the Mujahideen will morph into the Taliban and those “rebels” he loves so much will be fighting US troops when we invade Afghanistan in 2001. The movie is even dedicated “to the gallant people of Afghanistan”. So that’s kinda awkward in retrospect.
The “Making FETCH happen” Award for line of dialog trying to be a pop culture catchphrase: “I’m your worst nightmare.”
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Rambo and his mullet, and Trautman await their next opportunity to kill hundreds of people, while lamenting the evils of violence.
Rambo Mullet Forecast: Slimy and gross
RECAP – Rambo is still in Thailand and has given up Stick fighting for cobra catching to apparently pay for his HGH. Oh if only Rambo has just learned how to use Microsoft Excel. Anyway a group of missionaries wants to hire Rambo to take them to Burma to help bring medical supplies to a village. Rambo says no, until Dexter’s Dead Wife, (Julie Benz) pleads changes his mind. Rambo agrees. On the way up they are stopped by Burmese pirates who what the “white woman” (Dexter’s Dead Wife), clearly Rambo murders them in front of the missionaries. Rambo drops the missionaries off and heads back and of course they are almost immediately attacked and captured by the mirrored sunglasses leader of a Burmese Junta Army . Some days later the Minister of the missionaries church asks Rambo to take a group of mercenaries to find the missing missionaries. Rambo agrees because everyone in this movie is secretly in love with Dexter’s Dead Wife. Rambo offers to help the “Mercs”, but they refuse and go off and get attacked only to be saved Rambo like 20 minutes later. They then team up to rescue the missionaries. On the way back everyone but Rambo, Dexter’s Dead Wife and School Boy, the only mercenary who’s remotely nice to Rambo, get separated and watch as the Mercs and Missionary get recaptured. Instead of watching them die, Rambo finds the biggest gun and kills all the Burmese soldiers until the rebels arrive. Dexter’s Dead Wife runs into the arms of SOME DUDE NAMED MICHAEL as Rambo looks on. Later Rambo is seen walking onto a farm in the US with the name “R.Rambo” printed on the mailbox.
REVIEW – Directed by Stallone, who apparently discovered CGI because even for a Rambo movie this flick is SUPER violent. People just don’t get shot, the get blown apart and with huge holes in them and blood sprayed everywhere. Even for a Rambo flick its a bit much. And because again these movies are weirdly political it opens with montage of real footage of the atrocities in Burma. Its gross. This might be the darkest of the movies so far which is saying something because the first one is about a guy who has a psychotic break and kills a bunch of cops. YEAH I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN THAT. Also Rambo’s PTSD issues fit easily in a 3 film recap / nightmare he has before TV’s White Shadow shows up as the Minister. I also realize why except for the first movie why I don’t remember the names of the bad guys. Because they don’t matter. They never have a personalty or are very interesting. They just are basically the head of the group of henchmen Rambo kills. Gone is the kind of goofy action of the 80’s for early 2000’s DARKNESS, which you’d think would fit Rambo movies like a bandanna, but instead it just makes it tedious to watch. I fell asleep during one part and had no want to go back and see what I missed. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the days when Rambo rammed a helicopter with a tank. And what did they do to his MULLET!! This movie makes me sad…
The “Making FETCH happen” Award for line of dialog trying to be a pop culture catchphrase: “You’re not changing anything”
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Rambo rambles onto the surprisingly really nice Rambo family farm. The hell was he doing in Thailand catching snakes when we could have here. Its in the mountains, its got horses. Kinda stupid.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Rambo Mullet Forecast: GONE! WHAT THE F@#K!!!
RECAP – Rambo has spent the last 11 years on his deceased father’s ranch with his friend and her granddaughter Gabrielle, who she calls Uncle John. When Rambo is not fancy horse riding he has apparently been tunneling an elaborate series of tunnels under the ranch for…. Who knows. Before going to college Gabrielle runs to Mexico for find her biological father, who rejects her. Her friend takes her to a local bar to cheer her up where she is kidnapped and sold into an underground prostitution ring. (Nothing good happens after midnight.) Rambo heads down there to track her down and finds the men holding her who beat him up. Rambo recovers after being taken in by a journalist tracking the kidnappers. He then finds Gabrielle who now has been pumped full of heroin. She dies as he drives her back to Arizona. Heartbroken, Rambo turns his ranch into a series of deadly booby traps and lures Gabrielle’s captors there, where they have nice conversation and part ways amicably. Just kidding where Rambo systematically kills them in the tunnels he created and then literally rips out the heart of their leader. Rambo, shot and bleeding, sits on this porch until after the credits, where he is seen on a horse riding off into the sunset. No I’m not kidding.
REVIEW – Okay this movie is better than it should be. Its not good, but better than the last one, and better than it deserves to be. My biggest gripe is it doesn’t feel like a Rambo movie. The main character’s name could have been “Bob Normalton” and you could basically have the same movie. Gone are the weird politics, Rambo at the beginning is something we have never seen before, happy. I mean he still has more weapons than a SWAT team, and huge knives, and blacksmith set up in his underground series of tunnels, but he likes being Uncle Rambo and you really feel this girl means something to him. But like the last movie its needlessly gory when the killing starts, people aren’t shot they are blown apart. It doesn’t upset me it just feels unnecessary. But on the plus side you finally get to see him set up all his elaborate traps. And its not as interesting as you’d think. This is most likely Rambo’s swan song, and while he doesn’t go out on top, he does go out with a little respect.
The “Making FETCH happen” Award for line of dialog trying to be a pop culture catchphrase: “This is what it feels like!”
So, what do you need to know for the future movies? Hopefully nothing.
REST IN POWER RAMBO MULLET
THE OTHER UNIVERSES