Rambo Was Never Cool (But Now He’s Just Fat and Sad)

Well, this is interesting. John Mueller at the LA Times has compiled some nifty numbers from the odious schlockfest known as the Rambo franchise, an unapologetic affront to all things cinematic that began in 1982 and has recently emerged from a ten-year coma to once again stab us in the eyes and piss in our ears.

The new Rambo movie, cleverly titled Rambo, opens tonight in the US and it completely amazes me that there will be people lining up to part with a portion of their hard-earned money for the express purpose of having their intellects insulted for 90 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong; I like to suspend my disbelief as much as the next guy, but come on. I’m not willing to just lay my brain aside and clap my hands like a drooling idiot every time Sly kills someone or pops off a sophomoric one-liner.

I continually grasp at the gossamer hope that one day Americans will grow beyond the desire to watch militaristic muscle-bound dumbasses shoot the shit out of stuff. The fact that John Rambo is always sticking it to “the Man” is of little consolation when his contrived soliloquies are the most intellectually stimulating aspects of the films. In the trailer, for example, we hear the bowie-wielding philosopher say, “Live for nothing, or die for something.”


And check out the screencap from Rambo at right. Clearly, ol' John hasn’t had any kind of snake handling training. He has no concept of what the hooked stick is for and has freely offered his forearm to a cobra, even going so far as to roll up his sleeve! Of course, this is probably the one cobra in the entire world that neglects to take the ready opportunity to strike its assailant, instead preferring to weave about menacingly until slammed against a tree. Or something like that, anyway. I haven’t actually seen the movie.

I blame the audience for this garbage being foisted upon us. As I mentioned above, I have no doubt there will be plenty of gung-ho, might-is-right, bring-it-on, kill-em-all-and-let-god-sort-em-out, war-loving types who will gladly pull a sweaty wad of Washingtons out of their fatigues simply for the “pleasure” of watching Stallone shoot a lot of big guns.* Then they’ll sit around and talk about their favorite scenes over a case of Budweiser before going out back with their modified assault rifles for the redneck equivalent of a group orgasm.


Me, I’ll be putting my nine bucks down on Cloverfield. Sure, there’ll likely be just as much death as in Rambo, but at least there’s the potential for an intelligent message to be delivered along the way.

*Draw whatever psychological conclusions you want from that, by the way. It doesn’t take a psychology grad student to understand the implications of such an intimate love of firearms.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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20 Responses to Rambo Was Never Cool (But Now He’s Just Fat and Sad)

  1. CrowSeer says:

    I haven't actually seen any of the Rambo films… which is weird because back in the day my sister used to rent anything our local rental place had going, especially the action films (she's a big Segal fan), so you'd think one of them would have come up eventually. I've only really seem Sly in Copland and Demolition Man, which are both very good… but I'm not especially tempted to check his previous work out.

  2. Jeff D says:

    The first one is actually a pretty decent movie. The rest…not so much.

  3. Kevin Wolf says:

    I'm totally seeing it tomorrow. I predict a dumb, violent good time.
    I saw There Will Be Blood last week, okay? I'm allowed to eat junk food sometimes.

  4. RedScylla says:

    "there’s the potential for an intelligent message to be delivered"–you must have seen a different trailer for Cloverfield than I did…

  5. Kevin Wolf says:

    And Cloverfield can suck a dick. That shaky-cam, faux cinema verite style is played.
    Rambo, however, looks to be a cheeky throwback to the greatest age of action filmmaking, the 80s. I hope this starts a whole new genre of movies about senior citizens going on killing sprees in the jungle.

  6. Oh, Kirk, my dear, dear friend. Get ready for a rant. First of all, this post has made you a hero in this household. I ran into my husband's office just now, while he was working, mind (something we both agreed we subject each other to in emergencies,only) to tell him about your post.
    Hubs and I lived through the Vietnam War and lost a number of young friends to it.We lived in fear of which one was going to get shipped over there next, Hubs more so than I probably, because the next one could have been him, whilst during that era, it could never have been me. When he and I were on our first date, one of the first things we bonded over was our mutual disgust over Rambo movies.
    The first thing I need the world to know is where Stallone was during this war he's made his career on. He was out of the United States- deliberately, in order to avoid the draft.
    The second thing I want to say is that his depiction of this disgraceful time in US history(only to be capped by this current one and current administration) has changed the perspective of every young person who's seen any of the films. They believe that "we could have won" the Vietnam War. I taught high school for many years and got to see and hear firsthand the repurcussions of that, amongst the generation that came after that war. I would take up way too much space here to explain it, but I'm sure you can imagine it. Not only did this film series have a big influence on them, it demeaned every Vietnam war vets' unwilling sacrifice. They were treated horribly enough upon their return, spat upon and jeered at by fellow citizens, many left to live homeless and with few medical benefits and poor pensions; Stallone's films just added the icing on the cake to their degradation.
    People say, "It's just a movie." But, that isn't so. Not when you have the Rupert Murdochs of the world running the news multimedia, which melds too dangerously close to what Hollywood presents. Many people can no longer tell the difference between what's real and what's wishful thinking on someone's part, or is just plain propoganda with the latest technology.
    As much as I despise Sylvestor Stallone for what he's done to the world's perception of this war (and Americans) he and I have one thing in common. Both of us are having a hard time sliding into old age gracefully. I combat it by exercising, eating healthly, dying my hair, rubbing the latest creams on my face. He combats it by making another movie which pretends that the last 26 years since he first took off his shirt and mumbled his guttural, unintelligible, inanities haven't aged him. Some are fooled by his wildly unrealistic perceptions of the Vietnam era and of himself. But, many of us can see the truth as plain as the wrinkles on his bloated face and the flab around his sagging middle.Yuck
    Thanks for letting me vent.

  7. Patricia says:

    I'm sure this will be just as good as his last Rocky film….yup. *grin*

  8. Lorelei says:

    All I have to say is that Rambo's looking a little beat. Rather than randomly killing the bad guys in Burma, I think he shoulda taken a quick detour to Thailand for a little fun in the sun. And a little sucky sucky fucky fucky two dollah action*: Maybe a little paid lovin' would make him less inclined to wage war at the drop of a hat.

    *damn I am full of class.

  9. shush now says:

    *applause*Oh, My GOD. One of the mixed martial arts extravaganzas my husband and I watched was brought to us by "RAMBO: Stallone is RAMBO!" and every time the announcer said it I turned to the long suffering husband and said, "tell me that isn't actually the name of the movie!"Surprise, surprise, it IS. Movie posters plastered all over the place saying RAMBO: Stallone is RAMBO. Kill. Me. Now.I could kind of in a way understand First Blood. It was more psychological and on some level meant to show the horrors of PTSD. The next three? Meaningless self gratification. I wish the producer had masturbated instead.

  10. Kirk says:

    Dude, I couldn't possibly have offended you with this post. Could I?*You have to admit that, at the very least, a movie like Rambo is a guilty pleasure.With regard to Cloverfield, I haven't seen it yet, so I only just learned it was done completely in the shaky-cam style. Can't say I'm happy about that, but what can I say? I'll take sci-fi monsters over war-schlock any day. And it's not that I don't like shoot-em-ups; I just hate these badass-vet-loses-it flicks.*just in case, sorry if I did.

  11. Kirk says:

    All I meant was that you're more likely to get a decent allegory from science fiction than you are from a shoot-em-up.Since the writing of this post, I've had plenty of people tell me not to bother looking for anything deep in Cloverfield. In fact, I'm starting to think I'll spend my movie money on something else and just wait for the DVD.

  12. CrowSeer says:

    Reading the reviews at the Onion A.V. Club, I've learned that the first Rambo flick was based on a novel… they changed certain parts, obviously… but that may explain why it was so different to the others, if only in bodycount terms.
    Secondly, Cloverfield sounds like a good gimmick, but a bad film… it's kind of a nice idea to have an invasion or monster attack (or whatever it is) filmed from a sort of street-level perspective, but that also means lots of jerky camera work, and a bit of credulity stretching so the characters are close enough to film the action but not die. I'm not rushing to see it, personally… but it has had positive reviews too!

  13. Kevin Wolf says:

    Not offended, just defending big, dumb movies and the people that love 'em. We're not all rednecks. It looks like a bloody good time at the movies. I don't worry too much about a movie's politics, because I made up my own mind a long time ago, and no number of shots of Stallone's bare, oiled chest is going to change it. But if he wants to screw an explosive head onto an arrow and gratuitously blow up an evil Vietnamese dude with it, I'll be there grinning in dumbfounded disbelief.
    This is the power and magic of dumbness, and also the same reason why Schwarzeneggar's Commando is such a revered classic to a certain sort of film buff.

  14. Kirk says:

    "…Schwarzeneggar's Commando…"Gah. As much as I hate to admit it, I'll forever remember that scene where Arnie just tears a guys arm right the hell off. At the time, I'd never seen anything like that. Made an impression on me.

  15. Kevin Wolf says:

    My favorite bit is when he's in the tool shed, and he throws a circular saw blade at a dude so hard that it shaves part of the guy's head off.

  16. Kirk says:

    "…but that also means lots of jerky camera work, and a bit of credulity stretching so the characters are close enough to film the action but not die."This is an awesome point I hadn't considered. Forty story sea-monster attacks my city, I'm running like hell.Yup, guess I'm waiting for the DVD after all. So… I guess maybe I'll go see I Am Legend? Maybe? I understand the German Shepherd abuse is minimal enough for me to deal with.

  17. Kirk says:

    "…throws a circular saw blade at a dude so hard that it shaves part of the guy's head off."Is that from Commando as well? Huh. Hey, remember that Predator movie where the Predators were doing that very same thing with a compact disc? That was the technological upgrade – from sawblade to CD.

  18. I saw the second Rambo film many years ago and didn't think much of it until one of my sons, many years later, said he heard we could have won the war. After I stopped laughing, I corrected him and told him Rambo was just a character in a film and had nothing to do with the real Viet Nam. That lasted until I heard a fellow co-worker say something similar a few years later. It was then I realized that people actually believe this stuff, believe that we could have won the war in Viet Nam. I'm fine with the films as entertainment, cheer all you want, laugh or cry all you want as well. But under no circumstance should you believe any of the nonsense that passes for meaning in those films. If you don't know or have a draft lottery number, then you probably don't know what I'm talking about. #359 (Yippee, I won!!!) Good Stuff, Kirk.

  19. Kevin Wolf says:

    Okay, I saw Rambo: First Blood Part II MANY, MANY times as an impressionable middle-schooler, and I never took away the impression that we could have won the Vietnam War. Is that what the movie's even about? I remember Rambo shooting people with exploding arrows and killing them with an M-60 and flying through the camp in a helicopter firing rockets and going "Uuuurrrgghh!"
    I don't think this bogus, right-wing, revisionist historical justification for "staying the course" in an unwinnable war is a product of a bonehead action film. You give Rambo too much credit, people.

  20. I'm starting to realize that while I'm not a huge fan of shoot 'em up films, I will give them the benefit of the doubt… Unless of course I see Sylvestor Stallone's name in the credits. Then I run and hide. If you really want to know the quality of this sequel to a tired franchise just listen to the choice of music for the promo. "Bodies" (which if you'll recognize if you hear the repetitive chorus "Let the bodies hit the floor")? Seriously. *fall to the ground twitching* When. Will. The. Hurting. Stop?

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