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Rambo (film series)

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Title: Rambo (film series)  
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Subject: First Blood, Rambo, Rambo (1985 video game), David Morrell, John Rambo
Collection: 1972 Introductions, 1982 Introductions, Action Films by Series, Film Series, Media Franchises, Rambo
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Rambo (film series)

Stallone in Rambo III, photographed by Yoni S. Hamenahem

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).



  • Films 1
    • First Blood (1982) 1.1
    • Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) 1.2
    • Rambo III (1988) 1.3
    • Rambo (2008) 1.4
    • Rambo: Last Blood 1.5
  • Characters 2
  • Box office performance 3
  • Reception 4
  • Other media 5
    • Home video and television 5.1
    • Novelizations 5.2
    • Animated series 5.3
    • Comic books 5.4
    • Video games 5.5
    • Collectible card game 5.6
    • Soundtracks 5.7
  • Music 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


First Blood (1982)

Upon returning to the United States, 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 had died from cancer the previous summer due to exposure to Agent Orange, and that she must seek 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 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-defence 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 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.

Rambo (2008)

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 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: Last Blood

On February 2, 2009, Sylvester Stallone informed Reuters in an interview that making a fifth Rambo would depend on the success of the fourth film but that he thought he was "gearing one up" and that it would "be quite different".[1] On March 10, 2008, revealed that in an interview with Metro magazine, Stallone said that he was "half-way through" writing Rambo V and that it would not be another war film.[2] On March 20, also said that had revealed that the film would be shot in Bulgaria and later received word from a source that Bulgaria was to double for John Rambo's home town in Arizona.[3][4] On November 3, 2008, Stallone confirmed that they will be filming a Rambo V and that it is in the works. Stallone said: "Rambo hopefully will be back. We've just got to give you guys a story that's worthwhile." It was rumored that the fifth film's plot (which was an alternative for Rambo) would involve Rambo's daughter being kidnapped by cult leaders and his ensuing mission to rescue her.[5] On February 4, 2009, Sylvester Stallone quoted, "Yeah, we are doing another Rambo, but the conflict is whether to do it in America or a foreign country."[6]

On August 30, 2009, Millennium Films officially gave Stallone the green-light to make Rambo V, with Stallone writing, directing and starring again. At that time, the plot revolved around Rambo fighting his way through human traffickers and drug lords to rescue a young girl abducted near the U.S.-Mexico border.[7]

Stallone later confirmed that Rambo V would be loosely based upon a novel called Hunter, in which Rambo and a Special Ops are hired to hunt and kill a ferocious beast (the product of illegal genetic engineering experiments) that has slaughtered and destroyed research facilities and is on its way to civilization. Stallone has had the film rights to Hunter for several years and has not yet made a film adaptation.[8]

On November 11, it was reported that the plot had reverted to Rambo crossing the border to rescue a girl who had been kidnapped,[9] which led commentators assume that Rambo will go to Ciudad Juárez, a Mexican border city infamous for numerous killings of women.[10] This source could be considered unreliable at best as cites an indirect message delivered by a Stallone fan forum poster.

At the 63rd Cannes Film Festival, Millennium Films and Nu Image advertised Rambo V with posters and handouts.[11] Following an interview with Stallone for Ain't It Cool News, in which the director emphasised the finality of his decision to end the franchise, Harry Knowles reported that "He then told me that the folks behind those posters essentially said that if Sly didn't do it - someone else would. And Sly seems fine with that."[12]

Stallone has suggested there could be a prequel that would focus on the origins of Rambo.[13]

Though he initially considered plans for a fifth installment, Stallone stated in a 2010 interview, "I think Rambo’s pretty well done. I don’t think there’ll be any more. I’m about 99% sure,” said Stallone. “I was going to do it … but I feel that with Rocky Balboa, that character came complete circle. He went home. But for Rambo to go on another adventure might be, I think, misinterpreted as a mercenary gesture and not necessary. I don’t want that to happen."[14] However, in a 2012 interview, Stallone said "I'm dying to do another Rambo."[15]

In August 2011, Sean Hood submitted a finished fifth Rambo film script titled Rambo: Last Stand for Millennium films. Hood described the film to be "more in line with the small-town thriller of First Blood". He based the script on an incomplete draft of Rambo V that Stallone wrote which consisted of 20 pages.[16]

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.[17] However Stallone's press representative has refuted reports that Stallone will reprise Rambo on the small screen.[18]

On June 24, 2014, German movie company Splendid Films confirmed that Stallone has started work on writing the screenplay for a fifth Rambo film. A press release suggests that he will star as John Rambo. The statement reads, "With Rambo V, Sylvester Stallone returns in his iconic role. This time he goes up against a Mexican cartel. Stallone describes the new Rambo as his version of No Country for Old Men." [19] it was announced by Coming Soon that Stallone will return as writer, director and reprising his role as Rambo in the titled film Rambo: Last Blood.[20]


Character Films
First Blood
Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo III
John Rambo Sylvester Stallone
Sam Trautman Richard Crenna
Sheriff Will Teasle Brian Dennehy
Deputy Art Galt Jack Starrett
Mitch David Caruso
Co-Bao Julia Nickson
Marshall Murdock Charles Napier
Ericson Martin Kove
Lifer Steve Williams
Lieutenant Tay George Kee Cheung
Banks Andy Wood
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
Lewsi Graham McTavish
School Boy Matthew Marsden
Reese Jake La Botz

Box office performance

Film Release date (US) Budget Box office revenue
United States International Worldwide
First Blood[21] October 22, 1982 $15,000,000 $47,212,904 $78,000,000 $125,212,904
Rambo: First Blood Part II[22] May 22, 1985 $25,500,000 $150,415,432 $149,985,000 $300,400,432
Rambo III[23] May 25, 1988 $62,000,000 $53,715,611 $135,300,000 $189,015,611
Rambo[24] January 25, 2008 $50,000,000 $42,754,105 $70,490,185 $113,244,290
Total[25] $171,000,000 $294,098,052 $433,775,185 $727,873,237


Ratings collected from film review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.

Film Rating
First Blood 87% based on 38 reviews[26]
Rambo: First Blood Part II 28% based on 32 reviews[27]
Rambo III 36% based on 28 reviews[28]
Rambo 37% based on 142 reviews[29]
Average rating 47%

Other media

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.

Animated series

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.

Comic books

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.

Video games

Collectible card game

Rambo is a character in Fight Klub, a trading card game published by Decipher, Inc in February 2009.[33]


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.


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 Fast and the Furious films and The Expendables) 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.

The 2008 film, Rambo, was advertised with Drowning Pool's "Bodies" and features two songs in the film written and performed by Jake La Botz, who portrays the mercenary "Reese" in the film.

The theme music for 1986 animated TV series, Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, came from a trailer for First Blood, whilst additional music was composed by Shuki Levy and Haim Saban.

See also

  • 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


  1. ^ """INTERVIEW-Stallone challenges Myanmar junta, eyes "Rambo 5. Reuters. February 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  2. ^ "Stallone "half-way through" writing Rambo 5". Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  3. ^ "Rambo 5 to film in Bulgaria". Archived from the original on 2008-03-23. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  4. ^ "Rambo will return to America!". Archived from the original on 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Rambo 5 Gets the Green Light". Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  8. ^ "Stallone is Turning Hunter Into Rambo V". 
  9. ^ "Is Rambo 5 Heading Back To Mexico?". Screen Rant. 
  10. ^ Is John Rambo heading to Juarez?
  11. ^ "Why is". 
  12. ^ headgeek (13 May 2010). "So Sylvester Stallone just called". Aint It Cool News. 
  13. ^ "Stallone Ponders Rambo Prequel - Movie News - Empire". 
  14. ^ Wigler, Josh (May 3, 2010). , Won’t Pursue Fifth Installment"Rambo"Sylvester Stallone Retires . Comic Book Resources.
  15. ^ Johnson, Brian D. (March 6, 2012). "In conversation: Sylvester Stallone".  
  16. ^ Owen Williams (19 August 2011). "New Screenplay For Rambo 5". Empire magazine. 
  17. ^ Vlessing, Etan (August 21, 2013). "Sylvester Stallone In Talks For 'Rambo' TV Series". The Hollywood Reporter.
  18. ^ Knox, David. "Reality Bites as Sly Stallone refuses to play Rambo". TV Tonight. 
  19. ^ "Sylvester Stallone returns for Rambo V". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  20. ^ "Sylvester Stallone Targets One Last Battle with Rambo: Last Blood". Coming Soon. 
  21. ^ "First Blood (1982)".  
  22. ^ "Rambo II (1985)".  
  23. ^ "Rambo III (1988)".  
  24. ^ "Rambo (2008)".  
  25. ^ "Rambo Moviesat the Box Office".  
  26. ^ "First Blood"Rating for .  
  27. ^ "Rambo: First Blood Part II"Rating for . Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  28. ^ "Rambo III"Rating for . Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  29. ^ "Rambo"Rating for . Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-07-31. 
  30. ^ Rambo Arcade Game - Kotaku.
  31. ^ JC Fletcher. "Rambo: The Video Game to emerge from the jungle at Gamescom". Engadget. 
  32. ^ Rob Hearn (September 15, 2015). "Rambo: The Mobile Game - I came here to rescue you from him".  
  33. ^ Fight Klub Cardgame - Need Register

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