In the film Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke has a classic scene as a one-man band. He plays the drums and the accordion and the cymbals all by himself, and it comes out to a quaint little song. He charms the ladies and impresses the kiddies with his musical abilities and it almost seems possible that this could really be done. Rambo II is just like that, except for instead of Dick Van Dyke, it’s Sylvester Stallone, and instead of drums, it’s rocket launchers. A few of us may remember First Blood and some will even argue that it is a better movie. That is not our business. Our business is adventure and taking that into account (if I could get a tad intellectual here) First Blood is wholly and completely pwned by Rambo: First Blood: Part Deux.
There was a lot of discussion in the 1980s about who was a better action star. In one corner you have Sylvester Stallone and in the other you have Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is maybe not complete luck that Arnold seems to have won, but the reason that there was a discussion at all is due almost entirely to Rambo. The Rocky films, good as they might be (and some of them are), are not the all-out bullet-eating fight fest that Rambo is. The thing about Stallone is that he always wanted to position himself as some sort of intellectual. Not without merit mind you. I remember my high school French teacher was sort of baffled when she learned that in France he has actually achieved the status of an intellectual. She said that she didn’t associate books and literature with … well with Rocky. Until I reminded her that Sylvester Stallone WROTE Rocky.
Because he has a little bit more emotional depth, Stallone is probably better suited to Rambo 1 than Arnold. But truthfully either one of them could have done well with Rambo 2. That is because the real star of Rambo 2 is the action. And while it is actually true that Stallone wrote Rocky, it is also equally true that he did not write Rambo II. No, that honor goes to none other than James T. Cameron of Titanic fame. Now some of our younger readers might not know this, but before Cameron became a romance writer and the author of such sweeping tearjerker movies as Avatar and Titanic, he was actually pretty good at thinking up reasons to have things explode. There is a rumor (I suspect generated by Cameron himself) that he really only wrote the action and not the story for Rambo II. And I accept this rumor as fact because the action is by far the best part.
Let me make this clear, though, because by now we have had a lot of gory stories make our list: I do not condone violence. Unless fictional people are pretending to be tortured by plastic knives in a movie from the eighties and Rambo is there and has the power to stop them. In which case I condone it. Besides, Rambo II only has a body count of 58. This is much lower than Rambo 4, which had 83.
Next up … 80