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Rambo: First Blood [1982]

It's easy to forget that this Spartan, violent film, which begat the Rambo series, was such a big hit in 1982 because it was a good movie. Green Beret vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) wanders into the wrong small town to find a fellow 'Nam buddy and gets the living heck kicked out of him by the local law enforcement (led by Brian Dennehy). The vet strikes back the only way he knows how, leading to a visceral, if unrealistic, flight and fight through the local mountains. Based on the 1972 novel by David Morrell, this film saved Stallone's then-foundering career and the Rambo character became the inspiration for countless political cartoons. But this film is Deliverance without the moral ambiguity. --Keith Simanton


Rambo: First Blood Part II [1985]

After Rocky and its sequels, Sylvester Stallone cast about for another character that would bring him the same kind of box-office hit--and found it in disillusioned Vietnam vet John Rambo in First Blood, a solid little action thriller. So when all else failed, Stallone went back to the same well in hopes of recapturing the same commercial success. Which this film did. But where First Blood was a no-nonsense thriller that pitted Stallone against a worthy (and not necessarily bad) Brian Dennehy, this one is a sadistic chest-thumper in which Rambo gets to go back to Vietnam: ostensibly, he is there to rescue missing POWs, but in fact the movie was a lame excuse for him to refight the Vietnam War--and win. Audiences ate up the cruel Vietcong (and their Russian manipulators) and Stallone's bogus heroics, but it was strictly by-the-numbers action. --Marshall Fine


Rambo III [1988]

And the hits just keep on coming. Sylvester Stallone, who can't seem to draw flies unless he's playing Rocky Balboa or John Rambo, went back to the Rambo well (or septic system, as it were) to show his well-known solidarity with the Afghan freedom fighters who battled the Soviet army in the 1980s. This time it's personal: his handler, Richard Crenna, is captured by the Evil Empire and so it is up to Rambo to leave his work in a monastery in Southeast Asia (no, seriously) in order to rescue him from the Ruskies. Ever wonder why the Russians had such a miserable time in Afghanistan? It was because Rambo took them on single-handed and sent them packing with hammer-and-sickle all the way back to Moscow. Cartoonish action, taken ever so seriously by Stallone, who was working desperately to scrape away the unsightly wax build up from his reputation. --Marshall Fine


Rambo [2008]

Twenty years after the last film in the series, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has retreated to northern Thailand, where he's running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world's longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo, who lives a solitary, simple life in the mountains and jungles fishing and catching poisonous snakes to sell, has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on their way to the war-torn region. That all changes when a group of human rights missionaries search out the "American river guide" John Rambo.

When Sarah (Julie Benz) and Michael Bennett (Paul Schulze) approach him, they explain that since last year's trek to the refugee camps, the Burmese military has laid landmines along the road, making it too dangerous for overland travel. They ask Rambo to guide them up the Salween and drop them off in order to deliver medical supplies and food to the Karen tribe. After refusing to cross into Burma, Rambo changes his mind and takes them, dropping them close to one of the Karen villages.

Less than two weeks later, he receives a visit from a pastor tellng him the aid workers did not return and the embassies have not helped locate them. The pastor has mortgaged his home and raised money from his congregation to hire mercenaries to free the missionaries, who are being held captive by the Burmese army. Although the United States military trained him to be a lethal super soldier in Vietnam, decades later Rambo's reluctance for violence and conflict are palpable. However, the lone warrior knows what he must do...

 

Synopsis

John Rambo takes out his enemies with extreme prejudice in First Blood, Rambo - First Blood Part 2 , Rambo 3, and Rambo.


In First Blood, a police chief arrests and harasses a vagrant, former Vietnam war hero John Rambo. Rambo escapes his captors and wages a one man war against the corrupt police force in nearby mountains.


In Rambo - First Blood Part 2, John Rambo's mission is to locate American P.O.W's in Vietnam. His orders: do not engage the enemy. But double-crossed and behind enemy lines he must get out any way he can. No man, no law, no war can stop him.


In Rambo 3, John Rambo has gone to live a life of seclusion in an old Buddhist monastery, searching for inner peace. When friend and mentor Col. Trautman visits to ask for his help in a secret mission in Afghanistan, Rambo declines, preferring a life of serenity. Trautman goes it alone and is captured by the enemy. Rambo must now set out to bring his old friend back to safety.


Rambo sees John Rambo living like a hermit and wrangling rattlesnakes in Thailand. He's drawn back into the action by a group of missionaries who want the Vietnam vet to ferry them upriver into Burma. But when the group of idealists gets captured by the Burmese army, it's up to Rambo and a team of multinational mercenaries to save the day.

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