Rambo: First Blood, Part II

(This is the seventh in a series of reviews of the entire Rocky / Rambo sequence)

I admit it: I fell asleep during this movie. I had gotten up at 6:30 Saturday morning to take Jim to his lacrosse tournament, then watched the second game, and then we finally arrived home around 3 p.m. Our goal was to watch three movies and review them by the end of the day. It shouldn’t have been too hard: that’s just six hours’ worth of movies. But by the time Jim had showered and we watched and reviewed the first movie, it was almost 6 p.m. (I think my server had already observed daylight savings time, so that’s why the time stamp reads 6:52 p.m.). We weren’t finished with dinner + movie 2 until 9:30, and I had a headache. I poured myself a Scotch on the rocks to accompany the film. That was probably my mistake right there.

Like so many of these films, it’s not that Rambo is a bad movie; it’s just not a good movie. As a military adventure, it’s a little limited in what it’s able to do. It’s got to have explosions and violence, and it’s got to have a finish that tops everything that came before it.

During the parts for which I was awake, the movie did this well enough. There were even a few surprises, such as the scene where Rambo promises to take his Vietnamese guide back to America, they kiss, and then she’s gunned down just seconds later.

But we knew all along that the asshole who sent him on his mission would turn out to be an asshole, and we knew all along that Rambo would eventually get his revenge on the asshole, and he does.

Worse, much of the movie devolves into the sort of chase scene I really don’t like — the hand-holding chase scene, where the hero drags a less-able “victim” (usually a woman; in this case, usually malnourished POWs) along while being chased by dozens of evil-doers. Sometimes handholding chases can work, especially when the “victim” shows that s/he can be useful, too. But generally when they go on too long, as they do here, they aren’t especially convincing. In First Blood, the chases were much more interesting, because often the person being chased — Rambo — reversed the roles with his pursuers, creating a dramatic tension not present in Rambo.

Fortunately, there’s just one movie left to watch in this project. I can’t wait for it to be over.

Jim’s review here

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