Thursday, 23 October 2014

Rambo II: This Time It's Not Rambo 1

So I've never been particularly inclined to look at any Sylvester Stallone movies, and with good reason. After all the guy's got a reputation for making terrible action movies and not being really hard to understand. While I can sympathize with the reasons why he has that distinct voice (his lower jaw is partially paralyzed) I just don't think he's really that good an actor, as I found out today in my action cinema class when we had to watch Rambo: First Blood Part II.

I had low expectations even before going in, but the whole movie was pretty bad even by the standards I was setting. Half the time it was impossible to understand the dialogue, and not just Stallone's. The rest of the cast was okay but really we were obviously supposed to be following his character of Rambo despite him having no real depth or personality. He was just a guy with a lot of weapons and not much motivation.

It was also insanely jarring how inconsistent the action was. In the insanely contrived scene where Rambo's female partner gets killed, she is shot multiple times and dies soon after, and yet the same people cannot shoot a man standing at exactly the same range and every bit as visible. This is a cliché that has often been mercilessly parodied, commonly known as the "Stormtrooper effect" (so named for its infamous use in the Star Wars franchise, which ironically could have gotten around the problem if they'd just stated that the force was protecting the heroes). This was apparently quite popular in the 80's but that doesn't make it any less frustrating, especially when the bad guys are supposedly trained soldiers.

None of the characters ever seemed to have much in the way of depth at all, certainly not enough for me to care about any of them. The bad guys had no real motivation, Rambo is just a maniac with a gun, and did that one POW even get a name? If he did I don't remember it being brought up. Also I swear that guy got shot at least twice during the climax despite being okay at the end.

Come to think of it that's another thing, none of these POW's we're supposed to be concerned for have any personality at all. There's no real reason we should be concerned for their safety because we don't know any of them. They're just a bunch of shirtless guys and so when one or two get shot there isn't much emotion to be felt.

The only character I really had any interest in was Co (Julia Nickson). She was actually an interesting character and a strong female character in one of these films. She got to wield a machine gun for a while, a few action scenes, and even got to save Rambo's life. This film had an actual action girl in it, so how do the filmmakers mess it up? By killing her off way too early and forcing us to spend the rest of the film with a bunch of uninteresting shirtless men of course. I think I get what they were trying to go for, making the bad guys seem more ruthless and giving Rambo more motivation (as if the torture scene earlier and him being left for dead by his own people wasn't enough) but it was a lame and horrendously contrived scene that came straight out of nowhere and made the conversation immediately before completely pointless.

Now I'll confess, I still haven't seen the first Rambo film, but this one is a waste of time. Even the action scenes couldn't keep me going. I understand Sylvester Stallone has a physical deformity that inhibits his speech, but even if I could understand what he was saying I don't think he'd be a very good actor.

When it comes to action movie stars, I'll take Schwarzenegger any day. His action movies are fun and sometimes actually have a point to them. Stallone on the other hand is a guy I don't feel particularly inclined to see any more of. I've been told that Rocky is alright but beyond that I'm certainly not (willingly) checking out any more of the Rambo films or any of his later work. Rambo: First Blood Part II is a dull, pointless, and boring action movie that I would strongly recommend avoiding at all costs.


  1. Fun review, John. If you expected to give a crap about anyone in this movie, your expectations were still too high, lol. For whatever it's worth, First Blood is a far superior film and actually has a heart. The rest of the franchise is an acquired taste. Part III is far worse than Part II and the fourth movie, '08's Rambo is an unrelenting display of carnage. Literally, Rambo kills three times as many people in that one than in Part II, and it's less than 90 minutes long. Wrap your head around that one.

    1. Indeed, I've been told First Blood is quite a bit different from the later incarnations of Rambo though I'm not sure I'm particularly inclined to see it. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how going in knowing it wasn't going to be very good was still setting my standards too high.

    2. You said it yourself. It was bad even by the standards you were setting. It's a guilty pleasure for me, but I realize that it's not a good movie.