Rambo: First Blood Part II

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Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo first blood part ii.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by George P. Cosmatos
Produced by Buzz Feitshans
Screenplay by Sylvester Stallone
James Cameron
Story by Kevin Jarre
Based on John Rambo
by David Morrell
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Jack Cardiff
Edited by
Anabasis Investments, N.V. [1]
Distributed by TriStar Pictures [1]
Release date
  • May 22, 1985 (1985-05-22)(United States)
Running time
96 minutes [2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$25.5 million [3]
Box office$300.4 million [4]

Rambo: First Blood Part II is a 1985 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprises his role as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo. A sequel to First Blood (1982), it is the second installment in the Rambo franchise, followed by Rambo III . It co-stars Richard Crenna, who reprises his role as Colonel Sam Trautman, with Charles Napier, Julia Nickson, and Steven Berkoff.


The film is set in the context of the Vietnam War POW/MIA issue. In the film, Rambo gets released from prison by federal order to document the possible existence of POWs in Vietnam, under the belief that he will find nothing, thus enabling the government to sweep the issue under the rug.

Despite mixed reviews, Rambo: First Blood Part II was a major worldwide box office blockbuster, with an estimated 42 million tickets sold in the US. It has become one of the most recognized and memorable installments in the series, having inspired countless rip-offs, parodies, video games, and imitations. Entertainment Weekly ranked the movie number 23 on its list of "The Best Rock-'em, Sock-'em Movies of the Past 25 Years". [5]


Three years after the events in Hope, Washington, former US Army soldier John Rambo is visited at a prison labor camp by his old commander, Colonel Sam Trautman. With the Vietnam War over, the public has become increasingly concerned over news that a small group of US POWs have been left in enemy custody in Vietnam. To placate their demands for action, the US government has authorized a solo infiltration mission to confirm the reports. Rambo agrees to undertake the operation in exchange for a pardon. In Thailand, he is taken to meet Marshall Murdock, a bureaucratic government official overseeing the operation. Rambo is temporarily reinstated into the US Army and instructed only to photograph a possible camp and not to rescue any prisoners or engage enemy personnel, as they will be retrieved by a better equipped extraction team upon his return.

During his insertion, Rambo's parachute becomes tangled and breaks, causing him to lose his guns and most of his equipment, leaving him with only knives and his bow and arrow. He meets his assigned contact, a young intelligence agent named Co Bao, who arranges for a local band of river pirates to take them upriver. Reaching the camp, Rambo spots one of the prisoners (Banks) tied to a cross shaped post, left to suffer from exposure, and rescues him against orders. During escape, they are discovered by Vietnamese troops and attacked. The pirates also betray them. Rambo kills the pirates and destroys the gunboat with an RPG while the POW and Co Bao swim to safety. Rambo asks Co to stay behind shortly before they reach the extraction point. The rescue helicopter is ordered by Murdock to abort, saying Rambo has violated his orders.

Co Bao watches as Rambo and the POW are recaptured and returned to the camp. When Trautman confronts him, Murdock reveals that he never intended to save any POWs if any should be found, but to leave them to save Congress the money it would take to buy their freedom and evade any possibility of further war.

Rambo learns that Soviet troops are arming and training the Vietnamese. He is interrogated by the local liaison, Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky, and his right-hand man, Sergeant Yushin. Upon learning of Rambo's mission from intercepted missives, Podovsky demands that Rambo broadcast a message warning against further rescue missions for POWs under fatal cost. Meanwhile, Co infiltrates the camp disguised as a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. Rambo at first refuses to cooperate, but relents when the prisoner he tried to save is threatened. But instead of reading the scripted comments, Rambo directly threatens Murdock, then attacks and subdues the Soviets with Co's help and escapes into the jungle. Rambo agrees to take Co to the United States, and they begin kissing. As they start moving again after making out, a small Vietnamese force attacks the pair, and Co is killed. An enraged Rambo kills the soldiers and buries Co in the mud.

Rambo snaps, and, with the use of his weapons and guerrilla training, he systematically dispatches the numerous Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers sent after him. After surviving a barrel bomb dropped by Yushin's helicopter, Rambo climbs on board and throws Yushin out of the cabin. The pilot jumps out afraid of Rambo, who then takes control. He lays waste to the prison camp and kills all the remaining enemy forces before extracting the POWs and heading towards friendly territory in Thailand. Podovsky, pursuing in a helicopter gunship, seemingly shoots them down and moves in for the kill. Having faked the crash, Rambo uses a rocket launcher to destroy the aircraft, killing Podovsky.

Returning to base with the POWs, Rambo, after using the helicopter's machine gun to destroy Murdock's office, confronts the terrified man with his knife, demanding that Murdock rescue the remaining POWs. Trautman tries to convince Rambo to return home now that he has been pardoned. When Rambo refuses, Trautman asks what he wants. An angry Rambo responds that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Trautman asks Rambo how he will live now, to which Rambo tersely says, "Day by day". With that, the film credits roll as Rambo walks off into the distance.



Development and writing

Producers considered that Rambo would have a partner in the rescue mission of POWs. The producers allegedly wanted John Travolta to play Rambo's partner, but Stallone vetoed the idea. [6] Lee Marvin (who was considered to play Colonel Trautman in the first film) was offered the role of Marshall Murdock, but declined, leading to the role being played by Charles Napier.

James Cameron wrote a first draft under the title First Blood II: The Mission. (Cameron had been recommended by David Giler who did some uncredited script work on the first film. [7] ) Cameron's script had the same basic structure of the first film but had a character of Rambo's sidekick.

Stallone later recalled:

I think that James Cameron is a brilliant talent, but I thought the politics were important, such as a right-wing stance coming from Trautman and his nemesis, Murdock, contrasted by Rambo's obvious neutrality, which I believe is explained in Rambo's final speech. I realize his speech at the end may have caused millions of viewers to burst veins in their eyeballs by rolling them excessively, but the sentiment stated was conveyed to me by many veterans. ... [Also] in his original draft it took nearly 30-40 pages to have any action initiated and Rambo was partnered with a tech-y sidekick. So it was more than just politics that were put into the script. There was also a simpler story line. If James Cameron says anything more than that, then he realizes he's now doing the backstroke badly in a pool of lies. [8]


The film was shot between June and August 1984, and was shot on location in the State of Guerrero, Mexico, and Thailand. During filming, special effects man Clifford P Wenger, Jr. was accidentally killed by one of the film's explosions. [9]


Rambo: First Blood Part II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Film score by
Producer Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith chronology
Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Explorers: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

The musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Although, Goldsmith uses heavily on electronic synthesized elements in the film score. The main song is sung by Stallone's brother, singer/songwriter Frank Stallone. Varèse Sarabande issued the original soundtrack album.

  1. Main Title (2:12)
  2. Preparations (1:16)
  3. The Jump (3:18)
  4. The Snake (1:48)
  5. Stories (3:26)
  6. The Cage (3:55)
  7. Betrayed (4:22)
  8. Escape from Torture (3:39)
  9. Ambush (2:45)
  10. Revenge (6:14)
  11. Bowed Down (1:04)
  12. Pilot Over (1:52)
  13. Home Flight (3:01)
  14. Day by Day (2:06)
  15. Peace in Our Life – music by Frank Stallone, Peter Schless, and Jerry Goldsmith; lyrics by Frank Stallone; performed by Frank Stallone (3:18)

Note: As released in the United Kingdom by That's Entertainment Records (the British licensee for Varèse Sarabande at the time), the UK version placed "Peace in Our Life" between "Betrayed" and "Escape from Torture", thus making "Day by Day" the final track.

In 1999, Silva America released an expanded edition with the cues in film order. Previously unreleased music is in bold.

  1. Main Title (2:14)
  2. The Map (1:09)
  3. Preparations (1:18)
  4. The Jump (3:19)
  5. The Snake (1:49)
  6. The Pirates (1:29)
  7. Stories (3:27)
  8. The Camp/Forced Entry (2:24)
  9. The Cage (3:57)
  10. River Crash/The Gunboat (3:37)
  11. Betrayed (4:24)
  12. Bring Him Up/The Eyes (2:06)
  13. Escape from Torture (3:41)
  14. Ambush (2:47)
  15. Revenge (6:16)
  16. Bowed Down (1:06)
  17. Pilot Over (1:54)
  18. Village Raid/Helicopter Flight (4:55)
  19. Home Flight (3:02)
  20. Day By Day (2:08)
  21. Peace in Our Life (3:19) – Frank Stallone


Home media

The video sold 425,000 units, a record for a tape with a retail price of $79.95. [10]

Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on DVD on November 23, 2004, and a Blu-Ray release followed on May 23, 2008. [11] Rambo: First Blood Part II was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on November 13, 2018. [12]


Box office

Rambo: First Blood Part II opened in the US on May 22, 1985 in a then-record 2,074 theaters and was the number one film that weekend, grossing $20,176,217 . Overall, the film grossed $150,415,432 in the US and Canada and $149,985,000 internationally, for a worldwide total of $300,400,432. [4] The movie broke various international box office records. [13]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 36% based on 42 reviews. The site's consensus is "First Blood Part II offers enough mayhem to satisfy genre fans, but remains a regressive sequel that turns its once-compelling protagonist into just another muscled action berserker." [14] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100 based on reviews from 14 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews. [15]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times called the film "almost as opportunistic as the Congressman it pretends to abhor. In spite of everything it says, it's much less interested in the M.I.A. question than it is in finding a topical frame for the kind of action-adventure film in which Mr. Stallone — his torso and his vacant stare — can do what his fans like best. That is, fight, outwit and kill, usually all by himself, dozens of far better armed but lesser mortals." [16] Variety wrote, "The charade on the screen, which is not pulled off, is to accept that the underdog Rambo character, albeit with the machine-gun wielding help of an attractive Vietnamese girl, can waste hoardes of Viet Cong and Red Army contingents enroute to hauling POWs to a Thai air base in a smoking Russian chopper with only a facial scar (from a branding iron-knifepoint) marring his tough figure. You never even see him eating in this fantasy, as if his body feeds on itself." [17] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film three stars out of four and called it "very good at what it does, but what it does isn't always that good", referring to the depiction of the enemy as going "back to the image of the Yellow Peril, to the notion that white is right and other colors are wrong." [18] Michael Wilmington of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "If a character can seemingly do anything, it's hard to feel tension or concern about his fate. (At least, Superman had kryptonite.) We are left with nothing but detached aesthetic appreciation: watching Rambo race through several million dollars worth of explosions and aerial attacks, coruscant fireballs billowing everywhere and bodies flying hither and yon. Except for anyone irretrievably into violent power fantasies, this will probably soon pall." [19] Pauline Kael commented in The New Yorker , "The director, George P. Costmatos, gives this near-psychotic material—a mixture of Catholic iconography and Soldier of Fortune pulp—a veneer of professionalism, but the looniness is always there." [20] Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post wrote, "At best, 'Rambo: First Blood Part II' is a crudely effective right-wing rabble-rouser, the artistic equivalent of carpet bombing—you don't know whether to cheer or run for cover. At worst, it's a tribute to Sylvester Stallone, by Sylvester Stallone, starring Sylvester Stallone." [21]

The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of The 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made. [22]


Academy Award Best Sound Editing Frederick Brown Nominated
Razzie Award Worst Picture Buzz FeitshansWon
Worst Actor Sylvester Stallone Won
Worst Screenplay Won
James Cameron Won
Worst Original Song Frank Stallone ("Peace in Our Life")Won
Worst Supporting Actress Julia Nickson Nominated
Worst New Star Nominated
Worst Director George Cosmatos Nominated

Other media


A sequel titled Rambo III, was released in 1988.


David Morrell, author of First Blood , the novel the first Rambo film is based on, wrote a novelization called Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Video games

A tie-in video game was produced for ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 called Rambo . There was also Rambo for NES as well as a Rambo: First Blood Part II , for Sega. MSX and DOS games based on the film. Sega later adapted some of the battle scenes in the film for the 2008 arcade game Rambo . In 2014 was released Rambo: The Video Game , based on the first three Rambo films.

Other references

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