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Rambo: First Blood Part II

Year: 1985
Production Co: Anabasis NV
Director: George P Cosmatos
Writer: Kevin Jarre/Sylvester Stallone/James Cameron
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna

David Morrell's novel upon which First Blood was based was a comment on an America still at war with itself after the confusion, heartbreak and bloodshed of Vietnam.

A generation of young men were sent off to die horribly in bloodied jungle battlefields, and for the first time the commander/father figures who sent them looked down on the carnage from above (instead of joining them on the battlefields like they had in World War II), safely out of harm's way while their erstwhile children died in droves below.

So the story of John Rambo's initial rebellion against a small, bigoted US town was about youth trying to find a father when all the fathers it knew had abandoned it to end up broken, emotionally scarred or dead. That's what Colonel Trautman (Crenna) and to a lesser extent Sheriff Teasle (Dennehy) were all about.

But this is Sylvester Stallone's and America's revenge fantasy, and what started as a low-key drama with some violent action morphed into one of the signature action franchises of the 1980s – the heyday of such films.

This time - to paraphrase the mumbling, half-illiterate titular super-soldier – we get to win. When POWs are discovered still behind bamboo bars in Vietnam, Rambo is sent in to kick all the Viet Cong arse a nation wishes he had first time around. The exploding bow and arrow, the booby traps – all the fixtures that would come to symbolise the name and wipe away all the mythology First Blood had built up were front and centre.

And most of it was apparently thanks to co-writer James Cameron, who claims to have written the action before Stallone rewrote his script and made it more political.

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