Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Directed by George P. Cosmatos. With Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff, Marin Kove and Julia Nickson.


Oddly, Rambo: First Blood Part II is a vastly inferior film to Ted Kotcheff’s original John Rambo outing. Why is that so odd? Well, because despite a huge dip in overall quality, Part II is rich with of all the things that have made the character so iconic. It shouldn’t be so, but it has actually become more memorable, almost burying the reputation of its predecessor in the process.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Part II is a bigger, louder and much less interesting film than its predecessor. Explosions and gunfire stand in the way of any kind of character development as Rambo (Stallone) is sent on a reconnaissance mission to Vietnam to scout for potential POW’s. It’s not long before there’s a twist which sees our hero once more, left to his own devices, using his elite skills to survive against the odds. Only this time, he’s not scrapping with a few cops in the woods, he’s taking on the entire Vietnamese and Russian air and ground forces…or so it seems.

It’s plainly ridiculous, but somehow, still fun. The film’s poster (above) tells you everything you need to know – a low-brow cartoon with roots in exploitation territory. Given the quality of the previous film, Part II ought to have been better, but there remains a certain enjoyment in watching Stallone do the brute-force action stuff, and it’s good to see Richard Crenna back as Colonel Trautman, the only actor playing it even vaguely tongue-in-cheek.

When the end comes, you might feel as though you’ve slightly regressed. Part II plays like a weird Vietnam war revenge flick, with Rambo as the misunderstood American force out to gain everyone’s love and understanding by murdering countless ‘bad guys’ abroad. Maybe that explains its domestic success. It’s big, but it’s never clever, that said, it is iconic and very influential. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing. 2.5/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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11 Responses to Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. liamdoesfilm says:

    Had to study First Blood/First Blood II last year, the former is more about the hidden meaning of Vietnam vets whilst the latter is about action, action and more action! Good review 🙂

  2. Laura O says:

    I watched First Blood recently for the first time and really enjoyed it – it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be. So I recorded Part II the other night and I get the impression that this will be closer to what I expected the first time. I have lowered my expectations accordingly!

    • garethrhodes says:

      It was your First Blood review that inspired me to revisit the series. You are absolutely right to lower your expectations. First Blood Part II is a completely different movie. In honesty, it’s idiotic, but there is some fun to be had. The 2008 release, simply titled Rambo, is definitely worth your time though.

  3. cevans1982 says:

    I love the Rambo films, the sequels verge more on the guilty pleasure side but still very well made and extremely entertaining.

    First Blood on the other hand is an outright classic!

    • garethrhodes says:

      We have the same views on a lot of things. Thank you for commenting again. I actually liked the most recent Rambo offering. It shocked me, which I didn’t expect. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good comeback. This sequel is empty-headed fun for the right mood, I’d say.

      • cevans1982 says:

        I also loved the most recent Rambo, it combined the action and spectacle of the sequels whilst returning to the character focus of First Blood. Rambo is clearly a character Stallone loves and enjoys portraying.

      • garethrhodes says:

        He’s good at it too. The 2008 film came in for a lot of harsh criticism, which surprised me because I thought it was fine. Overly violent, perhaps, but still much more impacting than The Expendable series, which I really struggle to get into.

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