A Retrospective on the Rambo Movie Franchise

A Retrospective on the Rambo Movie Franchise

The Rambo media franchise consists of five movies, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Rambo, Rambo: Last Blood. Each of these films is in the action genre and all adapted from David Morrell’s 1972 novel titled First Blood. The first movie, First Blood, debuted in 1982, Rambo: First Blood Part II in 1985, Rambo III in 1988, Rambo in 2008, and Rambo: Last Blood came out in 2019. For over three decades, Sylvester Stallone has been the only actor who portrayed John Rambo on the silver screen. On the back of his outstanding success with Rocky, Stallone starred in the first installment of the Rambo movies. Since then, he has continued to this very day. He even directed the fourth installment, Rambo.

The movies that made Rambo a household name

First Blood (1982)

Rambo First Blood

The First Blood portrayed John Rambo as a Green Beret, Vietnam veteran war hero with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his experience as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. John Rambo also had issues adjusting to life as an ordinary civilian. Rambo travels to a small town to look for his old friend and a fellow United States soldier who he learned had died the previous year from cancer. He then decides to stay to eat and work but was immediately alienated by the town’s sheriff, Sheriff Will Teasle, who asked him to leave the town and not return. Still hungry and refusing to let go of his rights to freedom, Rambo storms back into town where the officials later arrest him for vagrancy.

In the police station, they harassed and roughly handled Rambo, which caused him to have flashbacks to his torture in Vietnam. This event caused him to lash out at the police officers harassing him, and he fought his way out of the station into the nearby wilderness. The police were in pursuit, and to wade off a helicopter that is shooting at him, Rambo threw a stone at the copter, which resulted in the death of a police officer, which further aggravated Sheriff Will Teasle.

Rambo’s former Commanding Officer, Colonel Samuel Trautman, thus called in the National Guard. The Colonel appealed for a reasonable surrender. However, both the Sheriff and Rambo rejected his proposals. Unfortunately, his pursuers discover then attack Rambo’s hideout, which led Rambo to commandeer an army truck that held bombs and guns. With the truck’s ammunition, he planned to attack the town in retaliation. Finally, Colonel Samuel Trautman convinced Rambo to stop from killing the Sheriff before talking him down into a surrender.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Rambo: First Blood Part II

After First Blood’s events and Rambo’s conviction, he served his time in a maximum civilian prison with hard labor, which suits him perfectly. The movie kicks off with Colonel Samuel Trautman’s visit to Rambo in prison, offering him his freedom, but in exchange, he must return to the Vietnamese Army camp that held him as a prisoner to ascertain whether there is any other American prisoner of war in Vietnam. Marshall Murdock, a corrupt political figure who has no desire for the exposure of truth, led the mission. Rambo’s only task was to take pictures and should not engage the Vietnamese soldiers.

Rambo came into the country where Co Bao, his designated guide, met him. Rambo discovered that there were American prisoners of war still held in Vietnam. So, he tried to break out with one of the prisoners to prove his point. Unfortunately, when his escape helicopter left them, on Murdock’s orders, he found himself stranded.

With no means of escape, the foreign soldiers recaptured Rambo and the prisoner then tortured Rambo. Co Bao entered the camp discretely to aid Rambo’s escape, but she died from a bullet while trying to escape. Angered by Co Bao’s death, Rambo started a one-man war against the Vietnamese and Soviet soldiers, killing them all. Rambo also freed all the prisoners and conveyed them to the US Army base in Thailand. Once there, he threatened to kill Murdock if he does not tell the whole truth. He also demanded that Murdock rescue the other American prisoners of war in other fields parts of Vietnam. Finally, Rambo received his promised presidential pardon.

Rambo III (1988)

Rambo III

After the events of Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo now lives in a monastery in Thailand. Here, he takes part in violent stick fighting and donates his monetary returns to help renovate the monastery. The movie shows Colonel Samuel Trautman asking for the help of Rambo on a mission to Afghanistan. The CIA coordinated the mission to deliver heavy-duty weapons to Afghan freedom fighters, The Mujahideen, who are repelling the Soviet forces. Colonel Trautman did not convince Rambo, who believed his soldiering days are over. Colonel Samuel Trautman went to Afghanistan on his own. In Afghanistan, the Soviet troops ambushed then captured Colonel Trautman and his troops. They then imprisoned Colonel Samuel Trautman and tortured him regularly for information.

A US embassy field officer, Robert Griggs, informed Rambo of this unfortunate incident, and he immediately left for Afghanistan. Aided by Mousa, a local weapons supplier, and a young boy, Rambo made his way to the Soviet base where the Soviets were interrogating Colonel Trautman. The first attempt to rescue Colonel Trautman proved to be a complete failure, with the boy shot and Rambo injured. Rambo vowed to retry, but he sent Mousa and the boy away to safety first. Rambo returned to the base alone, where he successfully rescued Trautman and some other prisoners, killing many Soviet troops in the process. A large Russian army later confronted them, but the Mujahideens aided them in the battle.

Rambo (2008)

Rambo (2008)

Here, Rambo still lives in Thailand, residing in a village remarkably close to Burma. He works as a snake catcher and a boatman for a living. The movie begins with news of Burma’s crisis which describes how the Burmese Army, that Major Pa Tee oversees, are massacring the people. A group of missionaries asks for Rambo’s service to ferry them down to Burma as they were on a humanitarian mission. Rambo initially turned down the offer, but a lady in the group, Sarah Miller, persuaded him.

Rambo had initially shown his ruthlessness when he killed a handful of pirates who tried to truncate their journey. Although he acted to save the missionaries, they were not comfortable with the violence he was capable of. After arriving in Burma, they told Rambo to leave as they would seek an alternative route in getting back.

When the missionaries crossed paths with Major Pa Tee Tint’s army, the troops killed two missionaries then captured the others. After two weeks without their return, the pastor sought Rambo’s help to lead a small group of mercenaries to the last known location of the missionaries. Worried about Sarah Miller, Rambo joined the group, and on catching up with the Burmese army, they were initially successful in their mission of saving all the hostages and prisoners of war, but the Burmese army quickly recovered everyone except Rambo, Sarah, and the mercenary team’s sniper.

Just as the recovered group were set for execution, Rambo entered in style, engaging the Burmese army with a machine gun, killing every one of them, and he also machetes the Major Tint trying to escape.

Rambo: The Last Blood (2019)

Rambo Last Blood

After what happened in Burma, Sarah Miller convinced Rambo to return home to the United States. He did exactly that and returned to his deceased father’s ranch, which he runs with his friend, Maria Beltran, and her granddaughter Gabriela. Gabriela was desperate to find her biological father and had found him in Mexico with the help of her friend, Gizelle. Against the counsel of Rambo and her grandmother, Gabriela sought out her father. He told her he does not care for her and her mother. Heartbroken, Gizelle and Gabriela went to a nightclub to cheer up. Unfortunately, the Mexican Cartel drugged then kidnapped Gabriela.

Maria informed Rambo about Gabriela’s disappearance, and he dashed down to Mexico. To look for Gabriela, Rambo only made things worse for himself and Gabriela as the cartel beat him and Victor, the boss, promised to make life more miserable for Gabriela. An independent journalist found Rambo and nursed him back to life.

After recovering fully, Rambo raided one of the Cartel’s brothels he suspected Gabriela was in, and after fighting his way in, he found her dosed up on heroin. Gabriela then died from a heroin overdose. Outraged, he sent Maria to safety, bobby trapped the whole of the ranch and then went back to Mexico to attack the man responsible for Gabriela’s death. Rambo raided Victor’s home, killing a lot of his men, and decapitating him. In retaliation, Victor’s brother, Hugo, leads a small army of mercenaries to Rambo’s already rigged ranch, killing everyone.


Rambo movies remain one of the most outstanding series, spanning three decades. Rather than getting tired of the series, the movies continue to attract a larger audience with their unique storylines.

About the author

Author: Chris Ingledue 


Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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