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Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 (1985) – DVD Review

Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 Special Edition DVD cover art


Written by: James Cameron & Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff, Julia Nickson-Soul


  • Running audio commentary with director Cosmatos
  • Documentary: “We Get to Win This Time: The Rambo: Phenomenon”
  • Production notes
  • Cast and crew info
  • Theatrical trailer

Released by: Artisan
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Skip it.

[ad#longpost]Having been placed in a federal prison for his little escapade in Oregon some years back, Rambo (Stallone) has decided that this is a better place to make a life of it than dealing with the unwelcoming American public who scorn him and have him labeled as a “baby-killer” because of his service in Vietnam. However, his superior officer, Colonel Trautman (Crenna) has a different ending in mind for John Rambo; Rambo is one of the only men in the country qualified for a reconnaissance mission into Vietnam looking for American POWs still held in camps. His mission is to scout out the same camp he escaped from during his tour of duty and take pictures of American soldiers still being held in these camps. Well, Rambo thinks this is kind of a wussy mission, not actually rescuing them and all, so he decides to go above and beyond the call of duty and bring an actual POW back with him. Little does he know, he’s actually starting another crusade for himself in the process. Oh yeah, and he does it mostly with a bow and arrow…

This movie supposedly picks up where First Blood left off, but it really begins a whole new story…and boy what a stinker it is. We know that Colonel Trautman trained Rambo as a Green Beret in Vietnam, so how, you ask, could he get swindled by some government bureaucrat toying around with a phoney-baloney mission looking for some missing POWs? It’s not really all that far fetched that Rambo decides to actually go on the mission, because…well…he’s a badass. Stallone seemed to be simply going through the motions on this one. It is obvious that Stallone and Cameron tried to give him a heart this time, but it just doesn’t work…neither for the story or the actor. Napier’s Murdock became the template for the bad-guy in these movies, and rightfully so. Even I wanted to throttle him while watching this movie. The thing that made First Blood a good movie went right out the window with this film: believability. There is no way that one man alone could take out what remained of the Viet Cong, hi-jack one Russian military helicopter, destroy another Russian helicopter, and so forth and so on. Granted, if you enjoy watching things being blown up, it makes for a decent action movie, but Hamlet it ain’t.

Sylvester Stallone is John Rambo in Rambo: First Blood, Part 2

Most of the special features of the Rambo Trilogy DVD Collection appear on the fourth disc, but they did slap some on this one. There is a documentary on the DVD that, given the limited depth of the subject matter, goes quite deep into the history of the film. George Cosmatos gives us quite a bit of insight into what went wrong with this film right at the very beginning of the film. He also admits that he never thought of the story as a political one, but rather focused on a man fighting a battle in Vietnam. Since this story is supposed to be a continuation of First Blood, I don’t see how it could not have been looked at as a political story. Watching the commentary, you get the idea that it wasn’t only the screenplay’s fault that this movie is so bad. The rest of the features on this disc are, again, pretty common. The Production Notes give an interesting note about the script which originated from James Cameron. Based on these notes, it seems that Cameron’s original opening for the film would have been stronger than the change that Stallone made. Finally, there are the Cast and Crew bios and filmographies and the Trailers for the film.

While the first Rambo flick did a good job of paying tribute to our soldiers who returned home from Vietnam, this sequel to the story seems to trivialize them. It’s a shame this film was ever made, to be frank. They should have killed Rambo off at the end of the first movie, but…then they wouldn’t have made a gazillion dollars on the sequels would they?

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