Best Bad Action Movies #8: Rambo: First Blood Part II

Year 1985
Stars Sylvester Stallone

Co-Star: Nuclear Tipped Arrowhead

Plot John Rambo (second best John on this list) is sent on a mission to take pictures of a POW camp in Vietnam and totally not save any POWs or fuck up the enemy, I mean, seriously, y’all. James Cameron co-wrote this, meaning there is yet another confirmed movie out there that he wrote which is better than AVATAR.

Highlights This movie involves Rambo largely exterminating (with extreme prejudice) swaths of Vietnamese and Russian soldiers by himself. If that does not sound gnarly enough, he does much of it with a survival knife and arrows via bow. … Which brings me to the next so very high of highlights: Nuclear warhead arrows. Sure, they do not say that the explosive arrows are nuclear, but judging by some of the kabooms! the two inch arrowheads deliver, it is a safe conclusion to draw. PLUS (yes, caps were necessary), a cool rattle snake noise comes over the soundtrack when he twists these bad boys onto the shaft of the arrow. … The choice of bringing the Russians into this flick was boss. Its always fun to stick it to those pinkos. … Better than the Soviets are the Benedict Arnolds who hand Rambo a mission they hope he fails. For these jokers, they dug up Charles Napier (dude in Blues Brothers who said, “You’re gonna look pretty funny trying to eat corn on the cob with no fucking teeth), Martin Kove (sensei of the Cobra Kai dojo), and a dude who looks like Chris Elliot (and probably had an equally successful acting career) with aviators on. … The overkill tactics employed by all parties is grand. Trying to kill one man? Have you tried mortars or a giant barrel of napalm? Obvious first choices. Yet, no implementation of overkill is better than when Rambo does it himself (ref: Best Take). The movie was a flamethrower short of having every weapon.

Drawbacks I am nitpicking here, but for a movie that has one goal (blam-bango action), there is a lot of build up early on. Yet, this is not all bad, as much of it is comical development between Rambo and Co (his Vietnamese contact to the POW camps) and the evil turncoats that send Rambo on a doomed mission. … Being trained into a machine of war, Rambo does not have a personality. Although this is amusing in its own right, it means no one-liners.

One Vietnamese soldier is about to become thousands of pieces.

Best Take When Rambo pulls out the nuclear tipped arrows, the director turns up the ridiculous knob a few notches. After taking out some vehicles and buildings (Why was he blowing up a seemingly innocent village of farmers?), Rambo finds himself in a cascading river with a lone Vietnamese officer shooting at him. When the poor schlep runs out of ammo, Rambo stands up, pulls out an arrow, fixes a nuclear tip to it (cue rattlesnake), shoots, and blows up the soldier. If that were not enough (it was), the Soviet henchman comes in with a helicopter to drop a barrel of napalm on Rambo. After successfully dodging said barrel’s massive explosion, followed up by hundreds of rounds from a machine gun, Rambo jumps from below the water surface and lands with his feet on the landing gear of the helicopter which was hovering three feet above water, simultaneously throwing the helicopter’s gunner into the river. It is one of the better stretches of action, this side of They Live.

In the first cut, there was a triple take of Rambo yelling when Co died (for real). Test audiences laughed too much, so they axed it. Too bad, as Sly yelling is very amusing.

Justification This is an absolute classic bad action movie with one of the genre’s elite in his roided-out glory as the lead. It is about as successful at killing things as any body count movie could hope. (IMDb has the number of kills at 67. This has to be an very arbitrary number.) In addition to many of the normal weapons (guns, grenades, missiles), Rambo is given a knife, bow, and arrows to add to the variety of ways in which he kills things dead. The only knock that lands this at #8 is the robotic personality of Rambo.

Next Up? Yojimbo in the desert.

About Judas Pato

Just another hard working member of the press, covering the Chicago Bulls and nonsense - often both, simultaneously.
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4 Responses to Best Bad Action Movies #8: Rambo: First Blood Part II

  1. djhatesyou says:

    He can’t even make a living parking cars, blowing shit up and killing things dead is an a career Rambo could always fall back on. And I’m glad he did. I can’t believe this isn’t higher!

  2. Judas Pato says:

    I made the list before rewatching them all. I am guessing I got the list very wrong, but none will disappoint. The only flicks I can confidently vouch for are the top five (maybe).

  3. This is THE premiere Stallone BAM. I would have been tempted to go with Demolition Man, or more likely Tango & Cash. You made the right call.

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