It’s been nearly 40 years and exactly four films since the first Rambo feature, ‘First Blood’, hit cinemas to mixed reviews in 1982.
But over the years, the film was re-evaluated by critics and praised more readily for its impact on the action genre. And this weekend, Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo era comes to a close with one final bloody romp — ‘Rambo: Last Blood’.
According to filmmakers, audiences can expect a more personal, grounded story arc as they bid farewell to the retired war veteran. Ahead of the film’s release on Thursday, here are five fast facts to know.
It picks up nearly four decades since the first film
Despite initially lukewarm critical reception, ‘First Blood’ (1982) was a box office success and spurred on a 37-year franchise, with all five films co-written by Stallone. (Rambo is even getting a Bollywood remake — starring Tiger Shroff — in 2020.)
Directed by Ted Kotcheff, ‘First Blood’ followed misunderstood Vietnam War veteran John Rambo, played by a then-36-year-old Stallone, as he used his battle skills to defeat evil.
Now 73, Stallone suggested that his character has come a long way since his primal fighting days.
“Rambo had been so isolated for so many years, and now he’s part of a family,” he said. “That dynamic helps you really understand how he thinks and what makes him tick. This film is quite different from the previous films; it’s more personal.”
Rambo has settled down — on a ranch in Arizona
After decades of non-stop action and bloody takedowns, Rambo has finally taken to a quiet life in Arizona, where he resides on a sprawling ranch with an adoptive family.
“We are taking a ten-year leap forward since we last saw Rambo [in the 2008 film ‘Rambo’],” said Stallone. “He has long been removed from society but now seems to want to become a part of it. He’s been accepted into a family he loves, and wants to take care of them.”
Rambo now lives with Maria, portrayed by Oscar-nominated Mexican actress Adriana Barrazza, who’s like a sister to him, and her granddaughter, Gabriela, who he treats as his own daughter.
There’s more than meets the eye as Rambo moves underground
Though Rambo’s countryside sanctuary should be enough to keep him happy, he finds himself listless and builds a labyrinth of tunnels and a bunker underneath the ranch.
“Rambo may have come to terms with himself and found home and family, but he’s not settled,” said Stallone. “There’s no real comfort in his life at the ranch; his body is there, but his mind isn’t.”
In the tunnels and bunker, Rambo sleeps, rests and stores some memorabilia; according to director Adrian Grunberg, it’s “where Rambo can release his demons.”
“It’s where Rambo feels, at least partly, like he’s still dug in, like in a trench,” said Grunberg. “He considers the ranch above the tunnels, which houses Maria and Gabriela, representative of all that is good. The tunnels are his private hell.”
His love for his family is what ramps Rambo up again
When teenaged Gabriela — whose mother had died and whose father was abusive — decides she wants to go looking for her biological dad, she disappears to Mexico and doesn’t return.
This is the catalyst that forces Rambo’s fighting instincts back to the surface, and sends him on a quest to find Gabriela and return her home safe. But, when Rambo witnesses Gabriela being drugged and abused by the cartel, he goes from searching for his loved one to seeking full-blown and brutal vengeance.
Rambo gets back to his roots in the killing sequences
According to the creators of ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, the fighting style in the film harks back to the origins of the franchise.
“You don’t see Rambo with two rocket launchers in each hand, blowing helicopters out of the sky, like he’s done in some of the previous films,” said producer Les Weldon. “This is the Rambo we met in ‘First Blood’, who uses his skills and environment to hunt and trap his prey. There is still plenty of action, gunplay, and vengeance, but it’s all more grounded in reality. This is a Rambo that is going back to his roots.”
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'Rambo: Last Blood' releases in the UAE on September 19.