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