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RAMBO 2, 1985
Movie Reviews!

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RAMBO 2, 1985 MOVIERAMBO 2, 1985
Movie Reviews

Director: George P. Cosmatos

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff, Julia Nickson, Martin Kove, George Cheung

Review by Joseph Paul John McCarthy

SYNOPSIS:

John Rambo is removed from prison by his former superior, Colonel Samuel Troutman, for a top-secret operation to bring back POW's still held in Vietnam. Rambo's assignment is to only take pictures of where the POWs are being held, but Rambo wants to get the POWs out of Vietnam. Teamed up with female Vietnamese freedom fighter Co Bao, Rambo embarks on a mission to rescue the POWs, who are being held by sadistic Vietnamese Captain Vinh and his Russian comrade, Lieutenant Colonel Padovsky. Rambo starts killing every enemy in sight while still focusing on his intentions to rescue the POWs. There are also corrupt American officials involved in the mission, including Marshall Murdock, one of Rambo's superiors.

REVIEW:

In director George P. Cosmatos's commentary of Rambo II, he talks about the infamous scene when Rambo is first dropped into the Vietnam jungle and is encountered by a poisoness snake. Cosmato says that the snake was supposed to jump on Rambo's back but the wrangler couldn't make it happen take after take.

So they improvised and had Rambo twist it's neck (which began the term of "doing it Rambo style") to kill it instantly. He says he was always angry at that scene until he sat in with a preview audience and saw how everyone reacted in universal laughter. In fact he says he was shocked to see how much people were laughing at many other scenes in the screening. But it was then that he knew he had a hit (which Rambo was, the highest grossing film in the world in 1985) because laughter and killing always makes an audience happy.

Unfortunately Cosmato, Stallone and company weren't making a comedy as Rambo II was supposed to be a controversial action film that tackled the still missing POW soldiers in Vietnam, while taking another shot at the US government. I guess Rambo II has those elements, but watching it then when I was an 9 year old kid (perhaps in hindsight I was a bit too young to be watching a film like this) and watching it again 25 years later, I couldn't help but laugh at the many moments in the film. I mean there are so many scenes that are just laugh out loud funny.

The TOP 3 funny scenes from Rambo II:

1) Rambo kisses the attractive female jungle guide (aren't they always knock out gorgeous), perhaps his first ever kiss and you think he's going to lose his virginity right then and there. But not even 5 seconds goes by when she gets shot down by the Russians and the Vietnamese soldiers. Rambo screams like a caged animal and it's then that you know that he's going to kill all 100+ soldiers all by himself. You couldn't help but feel sad for his boner.

2) Speaking of the Russians, they just show up for some reason in on the POW conspiracy (why they are keeping them is anyone's guess because it's not like they know anything now in the 1980s) and attempt torture on Rambo. Stallone, fresh off his Rocky IV film, seems to have gotten himself into some Russian troubles again. It's when the monstrous Russian guy enters the picture ala Ivan Drago, you know a mano on mano fight will happen between the two. As Rocky punches the Russia to win a boxing match, Rambo uses a knife to kill the Russian. And there's no "can't we all just get along" speech afterwards.

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3) And basically 90% of the film having Rambo not wearing a shirt. You kind of figure that just for the sake of all the bugs and other treacherous animals in a Vietnam jungle, that wearing full clothing would be the biggest necessity. After Rambo's mission is over you think that he's going to have about 2 million insect bites, which will cause him to die. Actually, that would of made for an ironic ending. Rambo kills everyone, rescues all the POW soldiers and then collapses. The tiny insects have killed the big bad Rambo.

So what makes this film the guilty pleasure that it is and a film like Bourne Identity a serious look at a US military creation who they raised into a killing machine until they didn't need him anymore and threw him away as quickly as a baby's diaper after it's job is completed. If you take a look at the story structure of the Rambo and Bourne series, they are really both the same films. Two killing machines who have a hard time connecting with people, much less having a conversation with anyone and actually speaking, on a mission to live while the CIA, special forces, hired hitman or whomever is trying to kill them.

It's when you think they are almost dead when someone, an old connection of some kind, utters the words "You don't know John Rambo/Jason Bourne." These boys aren't going to die. So what makes one film a funny parody and the other an intense edge of your seat thriller. The above comments I make probably answer the question, but I don't think it's that simple.

In Rambo, they shoot the film like any other action movie ala the James Bond films of the time. Whereas the Bourne films are shot in a documentary way as the camera is always shot on hand-held or steadicam and you're always with the main character throughout. Meaning, you're almost always in close-up shots and what he sees for the first time, so do you. You're never ahead or behind the plot. Jason Bourne is your mirror to what's going on. Shooting this style immediately makes the audience believe everything that's happening because our past experience of watching shooting styles like this.

Doing it DOC style forces us to think this is real even though in the back of all our minds we know this isn't the case. But when you're never ahead of the plot and always with the main character, you don't really think about it. The exact same thing can be said about the popular TV series of the 2000s, 24. Using time as your friend and forcing us to accept the insane things that occur with Jason Bourne and 24's Jack Bauer.

This is also the case in many other movies done after the 1980s Rambo films. Just think about all the Michael Bay films who takes it to even another level by cutting the action every 3-4 seconds so the audience can't think about anything because they are bombarded with so much scenery all at once. In the Rambo films, you just can't believe what is happening but you enjoy the action.

Put pleasure and unbelievable together and you have yourself a good laugh. So the movie's themes of corruption, and the soldiers just being expendables for the sake of politics like ponds on a chess board, are forgotten. Perhaps this is also because Rambo isn't much of a personality. Stallone performs the character to it's proper integrity as a guy like this doesn't make for interesting conversation. He's basically a human being who feels but could never actually express his emotions, even if he had 10 straight years of weekly therapy.

That part of his personality has been taken away from him. So a character like this is almost impossible to connect with because very few of us can actually relate with him. That's what makes the first Rambo film, First Blood, so extraordinary. They actually achieved this. But I don't think they would imagine that they could do this twice. But Stallone and company win in the end because everyone saw this film in 1985 in beyond. There is something charming about Stallone playing Rambo. A sad guy who is a real life terminator. And very funny in a very unintentional way.

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RAMBO 2