Rambo Marathon: Review: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

The Rambo Marathon trucks on, but this time my expectations were met, or were they?

Screenplay By: James Cameron & Sylvester Stallone
Directed By: George P. Cosmatos

If First Blood surprised me, then Rambo: First Blood Part II confirmed my worst fears. I always knew that there was potential for my only memories of the Rambo films, the action scenes, to be all the movies had going for them. First Blood had me thinking my usually dicey memory was on the fritz again, and now Rambo: First Blood Part II has me wondering if even the action scenes being good is an illusion of my ever failing brain matter.

The easiest place to start in Rambo: First Blood Part II is its preposterous story. Truth be told, the Rambo franchise never should have been a franchise, it should have ended with First Blood. But, as is the way of the world, that movie made money and thus its story needed to continue. That gives us Rambo: First Blood Part II, a movie that makes no sense right from the start. It puts its players in place, but from the get go it is clear who is good, who is bad and that we will not be given a reason to care about anything they do. The story elements of Rambo: First Blood Part II exist as meaningless filler in between action scenes, and coming off of First Blood that was very disappointing.

A good example of how off the mark Rambo: First Blood Part II is in its storytelling is the character of Co Bao, played by Julia Nickson who I best remember as Catherine Sakai from Babylon 5. At first I felt a bit of the writing of James Cameron touching her character, she appeared to be headed down the fierce independent warrior woman path that Cameron is so fond of. Then, I don’t know what happened, but that path was cut off and she spent the rest of the film as a sort of piece of eye candy for the male viewer, a woman for the male characters to leer at. And finally, she was offed in a scene that was supposed to be emotionally charged but left me going, “Oh, the few times Rambo grunted at her meant he was falling in love with her, weird.” The rest of the cast is just as easily broken down and do fit nicely into stereotyped boxes. That makes it very hard to get invested in a movie, but not as hard as boring action scenes do.

That’s right, you heard me, the action scenes in Rambo: First Blood Part II are boring. I know this film has a rep as a man’s man type of action film. But I have to ask, why? I honestly fell asleep a few different times during the big climax, and after rewinding and watching it again my excitement level still remained near that of a Sunday morning mass. There’s no cleverness or inventiveness behind the action in Rambo: First Blood Part II. It’s Rambo yells, Rambo shoots, someone shoots back, Rambo shoots and yells, people die, stuff blows up, rinse and repeat over and over again. I know the film Rambo: First Blood Part II was trying to be, but if you want that type of action film done right then go check out Predator instead, you’ll thank me.

After my expectations were vastly exceeded by First Blood this is not the direction I was hoping the Rambo Marathon would go in. At the very least I was hoping for a well made mindless action film, not a boring shoddily made one. Rambo: First Blood Part II tries so hard to replicate First Blood, just watch Stallone’s out of left field acting as he tries to place his somber and brooding First Blood Rambo in this new more cartoonish world and it just doesn’t work. Hopefully Rambo III can turn things around, because as it stands right now this marathon took a nosedive into a rice paddy real, real fast.

Find out if Edgar shared my disdain over at Between The Seats.

Rating:

**

Cheers,
Bill

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12 responses to “Rambo Marathon: Review: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

  1. Oh boy, you were ‘kind’ to this movie. Half points? Very generous…

  2. What half points to you speak of sir? I think my ** is about in line with your C-.

  3. Ha, a ** from me is close to a D I would say. I would have gone lower, but I did think that technically the film didn’t do anything to really upset me. For me it ended up falling into the pointless and stupid action film category more than anything else.

  4. I think next week’s rebuttal should just be us continuing our rants about how stupid this movie was.

    The only disagreement I can think of right now is maybe you saying one thing was bad and me going ‘No, Bill. It was TERRIBLE.’ or something silly like that. I’ll try to whip something up to make things interesting on Sunday.

  5. Yeah, it will be difficult, but we’ll think of something, we always do.

  6. Um, wow. For once I actually really like an action film it seems you didn’t care for at all. Yea, it’s a step down in storytelling but I felt like the action setpieces were effective and entertaining enough. For me it was just a well paced action flick that I never got bored with, hence it’s one of the action films I ended up really liking.

  7. Rambo Marathon? testosterone overload! Boom! This is my favorite one in the franchise and you did a great job writing about it.

  8. am with you Bill. people talk about the Rambo films now like theyre some great fun throwback. as soon as you watch them though, apart from a bit of the first one, you realise theyre just shit. people slag off the 80s, but this kind of crap was dated even then.

  9. James – Without any support from the story I felt the action scenes suffered greatly.

    Japan – Glad you liked it.

    Ross – Well Ross, I think we’ll differ a tad as we get into the other sequels, because while not great cinema, I might like them, we’ll see, for other reasons…

  10. Willie Smalls

    Cry as you will, the first three films have great soundtracks.

  11. I don’t think anyone was crying, and I don’t think any of us had any real problems with the score of any of the films.

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