Do you guys think there is any kind of philosophy running through the Stallone movies which began with first blood?
In the book they guy dies at the end, in the movie he survives, the message of the book is lost in translation to the movie, in the book the vet of the "good war" prevails over the vet of the "bad war", he kills him in the show down and there is a theme, at least the author David Morrell says so on his website, of seeking father figures.
The movies are more eighties macho action movies, or at least the early ones are, now Stallone said he didnt want to make another Rambo film after Rambo 3 because he thought the character had become too political. This is the movie which has a tribute to the heroic Afghan people, always love that historical irony.
The first movie I understood as someone being bullied by the police losing it and starting a war in the mountains near were he lived, there was plenty of machoismo about it but a lot of movies seemed to be making a single point to me at that time, movies like Karate Kid and No Surrender, No Retreat, that if oppression or bullies existed they deserved to be resisted. If only morally, in stories or by hope alone.
The second film is supposed to resemble, at least superficially, the exploits of a US folk hero of the survivalist right wing who flew his own, privately sponsored, "missions" into Vietnam to rescue POWs left there after the conclusion of the Vietnam war.
I dont know all the facts but I do know that some cultural critics have suggested that it didnt matter if the US had really lost the Vietnam war so long as Stallone refought it and won single handedly on the big screen. Contrasts and comparisons have been made with the historical revisionism in US second world war cinema and even Blackhawk down.
Although I'll confess, as a kid, and perhaps this reflects some olde latent racialism or racism in the pop culture of the times but I thought in the second movie that Stallone was fighting the Japs, although I also thought that some how MASH featured the Japs too, it was all "yellow peril" in a certain sense.
The third film, I thought was kind of dumb. In the merchandising of the first movie bowie knives, then renamed in pop culture as Rambo knives, and belt fed machine guns loomed large, in the second film the soviet RPG but in the third film Rambo drove tanks and helicopters and the character was capable of anything and everything, the whole thing seemed to be like a parody of the earlier films, featuring sequences which had become cliches like combat zone medicine. It all seemed a little ridiculous.
The TV series of cartoons, comics, action figures etc. never took off in any big way here.
The final movie intrigued me, it seemed to have a lot more to do with seriously considering the machismo in a more circumspect way, also Rambo seemed a lot less impossible a character and a lot more realpolitik in his dealings some how, this was contrasted with other idealpolitik characters. Although I also felt that the this film was in many ways a real eighties style action hero flick, those movies are violent, they special effects in the eighties hadnt quite caught up the content in the way the recent film was able to pull it off.
I also think in some ways that the world is a very different place, the final one had nothing like the merchandising of the earlier films, although war toys have all but disappeared anyway besides the medal of honour market in video games (there never was a movie tie in for the any of the consoles for the final Rambo film so far as I know, although there may have been a first person shooter in the arcades around about that time).