First Blood – 1982

Director Ted Kotcheff
Screenplay Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim, Sylvester Stallone based on the book by David Morrell
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Bill McKinney, Jack Starrett, David Caruso
Review Here (**** out of ******)
White Douchebag Nothing beats the original. Brian Dennehy is great as Will Teasle the small town sheriff that most of us would like, except most of us aren’t Rambo. Extra credit for Jack Starrett’s Deputy Galt, who really revs things into high gear with his helicopter pursuit.
Rank 1 out of 5

Rambo: First Blood Part II – 1985

Director George P. Cosmatos
Screenplay Sylvester Stallone, James Cameron
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff
Review This is a pile that is poorly directed (surprising given Cosmatos work on Tombstone, if nothing else). Rambo heads back to Vietnam to rewrite history, rescue some P.O.W.s and win the war pretty much by himself. The villains are laughable, the cinematography is parody level and Stallone seems lost in all of the hormones and quick cuts. This could be the worst film of his career. There are a lot of other contenders, unfortunately. Somehow, this is still the biggest moneymaker of the series. (1/2* out of *****)
White Douchebag Charles Napier is perhaps the worst of the series as Murdock. He’s the asshole who pulls the rug out on victory just for the sake of being a dick. Berkoff is the typical Russian stooge, just so we know it’s not really any of the fault of the natives.
Rank 5th

Rambo III – 1988

Director Peter MacDonald
Screenplay Stallone, Sheldon Lettich
Starring Stallone, Crenna, Kurtwood Smith, Marc de Jonge, Sasson Gabai
Review This is not a great film, though it is an incredible improvement over the previous film. I avoided this for decades due to bad word of mouth. MacDonald is much better at setting up a scene and letting Stallone’s script breathe. A few jokes (i.e. “It’s blue”) actually land successfully. The film is beautifully shot at times, only surrendering to over editing when the helicopters are involved. The story is a simplified version of the Russian / Afghanistan war. It works as a lesson for those who saw the futility in Vietnam and the parallel. It’s all still stupid, especially when the symphony music plays. Overall, though, it flows and looks a little cooler. (**1/2 out of *****)
White Douchebag Nice sleight of hand, using Kurtwood Smith as bait as the Murdock of this film. We don’t see him after the first act, though. Instead we get a doubling down of de Jonge as another Russian Colonel ready to be taken out.
Rank 4th

Rambo – 2008

Director Stallone
Screenplay Art Monterastelli, Stallone
Starring Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Tim Kang, Rey Gallegos, Jake La Botz, Maung Maung Khin, Ken Howard
Review This is without a doubt the most brutal of the Rambo films. The blood lust has been ramped up to an other worldly level. The treatment of human life is at the level of The Green Inferno. It’s also a little less corny than it’s two predecessors. This time, Rambo solves his little part of the Burmese / Myanmar Civil war. He’s saving a small Christian village after being brought in by some missionaries. Stallone, like fellow ostracised star Mel Gibson, is in don’t give a shit mode. He lays it all out there, even in a horrid hair piece designed to make his giant head look something like before all of the HGH. The film is easily the most brutal of the series. It’s worse than torture porn, but it’s also the most realistic because of this. Extra points for Tim Kang’s mercenary. Finally someone who’s in on the plan before Rambo gets there. (***1/2 out of *****)
White Douchebag The count is high in this one. The first act has Schulze’s Michael Burnett, who literally tells Rambo every wrong thing one can say in any given situation. He can’t die soon enough. First he’s got to be responsible for other innocent people dying. The second act introduces an Aliens type platoon of arrogant mercenaries, with McTavish drawing a bead on our hero. He starts by calling him the boat man, while bitching about everything. The innocent people and the environment are all beneath his contempt. I wonder if he’s going to die because of his stupidity or his callousness? Nope, he gets injured and realizes how cool Rambo is first.The rest of his U.N. type team is effective and treated seriously.
Rank 2nd

Rambo: Last Blood – 2019

Director Adrian Grünberg
Screenplay Matthew Cirulnick, Stallone
Starring Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Genie Kim, Joaquín Cosío, Oscar Jaenada
Review Here (***1/2 out of *****)
White Douchebag There are none…and the Liberals cry racism in 3, 2, 1…
Rank 3rd

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