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26 January, 2008 / Erik

First Blood, Part IV

A selection from the Stallone Diary:

“You’re either livin’ for nothin’ or dyin’ for somethin’ ”

-John J. Rambo, Rambo

In Rambo, the most recent of the retitled First Blood films, Rambo answers the problem of Burma with his arrows, guns, and HGH-addled paws. The biggest shame in this film? Richard Crenna isn’t around to tell the Burmese they’ll need a good supply of body bags. It’s all the dubious politics, blood splatter, and half-formed thoughts you’d expect from a First Blood picture.

rambo-poster-0.jpgThe film opens with Rambo living in Thailand as a snake wrangler and boatman. One day he’s approached by Christian …

No, wait, the film really begins with a quick explanation of Burma and a scene depicting nameless Burmese soldiers taking prisoner out for exercise … the kind that involves making them run through minefields. The scene might have some impact in a film not titled or featuring Rambo.

So these Christian Missionaries hope to bring medicine and Jesus to the downtrodden people oppressed by utterly corrupt Burmese soldiers. Rambo initially refuses until a missionary with legs, blond hair, and girlparts convinces him to do something. He takes them up river and almost avoids being noticed by pirates. When the boat is raided, Rambo takes the pirates out with a flash of ultraviolence which scares the living Christ out of the missionaries. Mike, the leader of the pack, wants to go back, but Girl Missionary convinces all to move on.

Now, a word here about the Girl Missionary: She’s played by Julie Benz. You might remember her from shows like Angel, Deadwood, and Dexter where she plays roughed up women. Before anything has happened, she already looks like, in the words of Martin Lawrence, shit got real. She does have a knack for playing utterly wounded, though. And it’s her wounded charm that makes Rambo do any of the violence that follows. So bully for her, I guess.

Rambo returns to his edge of the river hut while the Missionaries treat disease and discomfort when BOOM, the totally evilz Burmese soldiers show up and bring death and destruction and they shoot the village dogs. They take the white people prisoners and draft the local boys into their army.

Rambo is then awakened from a dream about his previous films by the Missionaries, um, boss? He asks Rambo to take some mercenaries up river to rescue the first group. Rambo’s response: he forges a machete.

Let me repeat that. He FORGES a machete.

Actually, it looks more like one of those swords the Orcs make in the first Lord of the Rings movie. Come to think of it, Stallone’s Human Growth Hormone treatments make him look kind of like one of the Uruk-Hai. Hmm …

Anyway, the Mercenaries and Rambo head into the jungle and do some mad Metal Gear infiltration of the Burmese Battalion camp while the soldiers are too busy raping local girls to notice. Oh! Also, the nameless Burmese general is a total paedo. No, really! A boy comes to his hut and he gives him that “it’s that time again” caress. So not only is he a dude who kills fifteen hundred people before breakfast, not only are we told he cooks up more Crystal Meth than Riverside County, CA, but he’s also a totally pedophile. EVILZ!

So the Mercenaries and Rambo gets some people out, and starting running back to Rambo’s boat. When daylight comes, the Evilz Burmese get the scent (with the cutest trained attack dogs, no less) and chance after them. Rambo’s response: he puts a claymore under an old WWII-era British bomb and blows up a sizable part of the jungle with Evilz army dudes, too.

What follows can only be called an orgy of broken bodies. Rambo beheads a guy on one of those guncars and uses the high power gun the best way Rambo can: turning fools into human spaghetti. This cues the mercenaries and the local rebel faction to declare all out war on the Burmese soldiers in a twenty minute ballet of flying body parts, boats on fire, and trees getting Stallpwned.

This is the most satisfying part of the film as it lets all the violence you want come to the fore. Heads explode, dudes get punked, and the nameless Burmese general gets introduced to his intestines.

And then, somehow, Rambo decides to go find his family. He goes back to the U.S, manages not to run into Brian Dennehy, and find his family’s horse ranch(!) Sadly, we don’t get a Frank cameo at the ranch. Also, no horses explode as Rambo’s long walk fills the space of credits.

Amazingly, Stallone made a film in which there is only ONE MONTAGE. How he managed this in the same year Uwe Boll made a film with no substantial flashbacks gives me the fear for the future of cinema.


One Comment

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  1. Dave / Feb 1 2008 6:18 pm

    Dude, my biggest concern was that we’re supposed to believe Rambo is from Arizona?! Why were they afraid to say NY/NJ? “Arizona, yo!”

    And then, why did that British bomb dud from WWII cause such a massive explosion? It was like a neutron bomb.

    — Stallpwned

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