Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985)


Introduction

Rambo: First Blood Part II is a 1985 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprises his role as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo.

A sequel to First Blood (1982), it is the second instalment in the Rambo franchise, followed by Rambo III (1988).

It co-stars Richard Crenna, who reprises his role as Colonel Sam Trautman, with Charles Napier, Julia Nickson, and Steven Berkoff.

The film is set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. In the film, Rambo gets released from prison by federal order to document the possible existence of POWs in Vietnam, under the belief that he will find nothing, thus enabling the government to sweep the issue under the rug.

Outline

Three years after the events in Hope, Washington, former US Army soldier John Rambo is visited by his old commander, Colonel Sam Trautman. With the Vietnam War over, the public has become increasingly concerned over news that a small group of US POWs have been left in enemy custody in Vietnam. To placate their demands for action, the US government has authorised a solo infiltration mission to confirm the reports. Rambo agrees to undertake the operation in exchange for a pardon. In Thailand, he is taken to meet Marshall Murdock, a bureaucratic government official overseeing the operation. Rambo is temporarily reinstated into the US Army and instructed only to photograph a possible camp and not to rescue any prisoners or engage enemy personnel, as they will be retrieved by a better equipped extraction team upon his return.

During his insertion, Rambo’s parachute becomes tangled and breaks, causing him to lose his guns and most of his equipment, leaving him with only knives and his bow and arrow. He meets his assigned contact, a young intelligence agent named Co Bao, who arranges for a local band of river pirates to take them upriver. Reaching the camp, Rambo spots one of the prisoners (Banks) tied to a cross shaped post, left to suffer from exposure, and rescues him against orders. During escape, they are discovered by Vietnamese troops and attacked. The pirates also betray them. Rambo kills the pirates and destroys the gunboat with an RPG while the POW and Co Bao swim to safety. Rambo asks Co to stay behind shortly before they reach the extraction point. The rescue helicopter is ordered by Murdock to abort, saying Rambo has violated his orders.

Co Bao watches as Rambo and the POW are recaptured and returned to the camp. When Trautman confronts him, Murdock reveals that he never intended to save any POWs if any should be found, but to leave them to save Congress the money it would take to buy their freedom and evade any possibility of further war.

Rambo learns that Soviet troops are arming and training the Vietnamese. He is interrogated by the local liaison, Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky, and his right-hand man, Sergeant Yushin. Upon learning of Rambo’s mission from intercepted missives, Podovsky demands that Rambo broadcast a message warning against further rescue missions for POWs under fatal cost. Meanwhile, Co infiltrates the camp disguised as a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. Rambo at first refuses to cooperate, but relents when the prisoner he tried to save is threatened. But instead of reading the scripted comments, Rambo directly threatens Murdock, then attacks and subdues the Soviets with Co’s help and escapes into the jungle. Rambo agrees to take Co to the United States, and they begin kissing. As they start moving again after making out, a small Vietnamese force attacks the pair, and Co is killed. An enraged Rambo kills the soldiers and buries Co in the mud.

With the use of his weapons and guerrilla training, Rambo systematically dispatches the numerous Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers sent after him. After surviving a barrel bomb dropped by Yushin’s helicopter, Rambo climbs on board and throws Yushin out of the cabin. The pilot jumps out afraid of Rambo, who then takes control. He lays waste to the prison camp and kills all the remaining enemy forces before extracting the POWs and heading towards friendly territory in Thailand. Podovsky, pursuing in a helicopter gunship, seemingly shoots them down and moves in for the kill. Having faked the crash, Rambo uses a rocket launcher to destroy the aircraft, killing Podovsky.

Returning to base with the POWs, Rambo, after using the helicopter’s machine gun to destroy Murdock’s office, confronts the terrified man with his knife, demanding that Murdock rescue the remaining POWs. Trautman tries to convince Rambo to return home now that he has been pardoned. When Rambo refuses, Trautman asks what he wants. An angry Rambo responds that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Trautman asks Rambo how he will live now, to which Rambo tersely says, “Day by day”. With that, the film credits roll as Rambo walks off into the distance.

Cast

  • Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo.
  • Richard Crenna as Colonel Samuel “Sam” R. Trautman.
  • Charles Napier as Major Marshall Roger T. Murdock.
  • Steven Berkoff as Lieutenant Colonel Sergei T. Podovsky.
  • Julia Nickson as Agent Co Phuong Bao.
  • Martin Kove as Michael Reed Ericson.
  • George Cheung as Lieutenant Tay.
  • Andy Wood as Banks.
  • William Ghent as Captain Vinh.
  • Voyo Goric as Sergeant Yushin.
  • Dana Lee as Captain Trong Kinh.
  • Steve Williams as Lifer.

Trivia

  • Producers considered that Rambo would have a partner in the rescue mission of POWs.
    • The producers allegedly wanted John Travolta to play Rambo’s partner, but Stallone vetoed the idea.
  • Lee Marvin (who was considered to play Colonel Trautman in the first film) was offered the role of Marshall Murdock, but declined, leading to the role being played by Charles Napier.
  • The film was shot between June and August 1984, and was shot on location in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, and Thailand.
  • During filming, special effects man Clifford P Wenger, Jr. was accidentally killed by one of the film’s explosions.
  • Despite mixed reviews, Rambo: First Blood Part II was a major worldwide box office blockbuster, with an estimated 42 million tickets sold in the US.
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II opened in the US on May 22, 1985 in a then-record 2,074 theatres and was the number one film that weekend, grossing $20,176,217.
    • Overall, the film grossed $150,415,432 in the US and Canada and $149,985,000 internationally, for a worldwide total of $300,400,432.
    • The movie broke various international box office records.
  • It has become one of the most recognised and memorable instalments in the series, having inspired countless rip-offs, parodies, video games, and imitations. Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie number 23 on its list of “The Best Rock-’em, Sock-’em Movies of the Past 25 Years”.

Rambo Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): George P. Cosmatos.
  • Producer(s): Buzz Feitshans.
  • Writer(s): Sylvester Stallone, James Cameron, and Kevin Jarre.
  • Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Cinematography: Jack Cardiff.
  • Editor(s): Mark Goldblatt and Mark Helfrich.
  • Production: Anabasis Investments N.V.
  • Distributor(s): Tristar Pictures.
  • Release Date: 22 May 1985 (US).
  • Running time: 96 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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