Director: George P. Cosmatos
Runtime: 96 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
As masterful as First Blood (1982) is, it wasn’t really until its sequel that the Rambo that most people recognize appeared on movie theater screens. In this film, Vietnam War veteran and supersoldier John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is sent back to Vietnam by the American government to investigate the possibility of U.S. P.O.W.s left behind after the end of the war. Yes, this is the one where the iconic main character really starts to go to town on his enemies.
Rambo: First Blood Part II wastes no time getting started, and almost constantly bludgeons the audience over the head with awesome action scenes. The high point just may be a helicopter rampage sequence that’s truly one for the ages. Another highlight is Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score. The pacing is generally speedy, and the whole picture has a palpable sense of righteous rage. It’s kitschier than the first one, but this has an appeal of its own.
On the down side, there is some pointless romance involving Rambo that probably could’ve been written out of the screenplay. As much as I love this flick, it’s probably my least favorite of the original Rambo trilogy. It seems a bit torn between the angsty, tormented world of First Blood and the wild, shoot-’em-up-heavy universe of Rambo III (1988). Those two films come close to perfection in doing their own things, while Rambo: First Blood Part II feels like a stepping stone from one to the other.
While John Rambo was largely a tragic figure in First Blood (and he still is to an extent throughout the entire series), the first sequel transforms him into a sweaty, shirtless, M60-slinging Captain America who makes Uncle Sam cry tears of pride. Still, there’s enough pathos to the main character to make the flick still feel like it’s from the same franchise as First Blood. The bottom line is that this is a tremendous action film full of explosions and dead bodies. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, you’ll want to check it out.
My rating is 9 outta 10.