After 11 long years, Sylvester Stallone returns to one of the two roles that defined his career: John Rambo. The rugged Vietnam veteran first came to the big screen in FIRST BLOOD, in 1982. Now he suits up for one final ride back and forth across the Mexican border, in RAMBO: LAST BLOOD.
Before Stallone's action hero begins to do what he does best, here are five things to know about LAST BLOOD.
Author David Morrell created John Rambo in his novel "First Blood," which was adapted into the film of the same name. The character began as a shellshocked Vietnam veteran who is harassed by a small-town sheriff in Washington state. A violent guerilla battle ensues as the sheriff hounds Rambo into the densely forested hills outside the town. The film FIRST BLOOD is a surprisingly effective movie about post-traumatic stress disorder, with Stallone giving a sometimes sensitive performance in the lead role.
James Cameron (THE TERMINATOR, TITANIC) co-wrote RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II with Stallone, who had also co-written the original movie. In fact, Stallone (who, remember, got an Oscar nomination for writing ROCKY) has had a hand in all the Rambo scripts. This first sequel is where the character became far more overtly violent, and where some of the stereotypical movie violence of the 1980s came into focus, with big guns, big explosions, and big biceps.
In the four previous films, John Rambo took up arms against, in order, local cops and the National Guard; Vietnamese and Soviet troops in Vietnam; Soviet forces in Afghanistan; and finally mercenaries in Burma.
Now he takes on a Mexican drug cartel which has kidnapped the daughter of one of his friends. Based on the trailer, it seems like the fight might range between Rambo's Arizona ranch home, and a location south of the border.
Adrian Grunberg is the filmmaker behind LAST BLOOD. The director has deep ties to Mel Gibson, and has worked as the first assistant director (who manages the production schedule and flow of action on shoot days) on several Mel Gibson movies, and directed the actor in 2012's GET THE GRINGO.
(This is where we'd like to point out that the Rambo films have some impressive directorial talent. FIRST BLOOD was made by Ted Kotcheff, who did both the very weird and amazing Australian film WAKE IN FRIGHT and also WEEKEND AT BERNIES. The sequel was directed by George Cosmatos, who also worked with Stallone on COBRA, and did the underwater thriller LEVIATHAN. Peter MacDonald, who made RAMBO III, did camera work on films as diverse as CABARET and ZARDOZ. Stallone himself directed the explosively violent RAMBO, in 2008.)
Possibly! We haven't seen the film, so there's always the chance that John Rambo might not live through this fight. But after making 2008's RAMBO, Stallone talked up making a sequel pretty quickly — then that project was on and off again for 11 years, culminating in this release. At times, Stallone said he was done with the character, then things would move forward once more. All of which is to say that, if the past decade is any indication, there's no telling if or when John Rambo will return after LAST BLOOD.
Sure was! The most popular song of 2019 became the unlikely soundtrack for John Rambo's return. 'Old Town Road,' by Lil Nas X is probably the last thing we would have guessed would be the first RAMBO: LAST BLOOD trailer song, and yet… it works.
All images courtesy of Lionsgate.