Having long-since abandoned his life as a lethal soldier, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) lives a solitary life near the Thai border. Two weeks after guiding a missionary (Julie Benz) and her comrades into Burma, he gets an urgent call for help. The missionaries have not returned and although he is reluctant to embrace violence again, Rambo sets out to rescue the captives from the Burmese army.
Rambo (also known as Rambo IV, John Rambo or Rambo: The Fight Continues) is a 2008 American-German independent action film directed, co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone reprising his famous role as Cold War/Vietnam veteran John Rambo. It is the fourth installment in the Rambo franchise, twenty years since the previous film Rambo III. This film is dedicated to the memory of Richard Crenna, who played Col. Sam Trautman in the first three films, and who died of heart failure in 2003.
The film is about a former United States Army Special Forces soldier, John Rambo, who is hired by a church pastor to help rescue a group of missionaries who were kidnapped by men from a brutal Burmese military regime.
The film grossed $113,244,290 during its run at the international box office. After its home video release, it grossed $39,206,346 in DVD sales. The film had its cable television premiere on Spike TV on July 11, 2010. However, it was the extended cut that was broadcast, not the theatrical version. The extended cut was later released on Blu-ray two weeks later.
When governments fail to act on behalf of captive missionaries, ex-Green Beret John James Rambo sets aside his peaceful existence along the Salween River in a war-torn region of Thailand to take action. Although he's still haunted by violent memories of his time as a U.S. soldier during the Vietnam War, Rambo can hardly turn his back on the aid workers who so desperately need his help.
20 years after the events in Afghanistan, amid the political protests of the crisis in Burma, ruthless military officer Major Pa Tee Tint (Maung Maung Khin) leads an army of Tatmadaw soldiers to pillage small villages in a campaign of fear. He watches with indifference as innocent villagers are forced into mine-infested marshes and orders his men to abduct the teenage boys of the villages to be drafted into his army. Former soldier John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) now lives in Thailand in a remote village near the Burmese border where he makes a living capturing and selling snakes as well as taxiing people up and down the Salween River in his boat. He is approached by missionary Michael Burnett (Paul Schulze) who requests that he and his group be ferried into Burma on a humanitarian mission to provide aid to Karen tribespeople. Rambo refuses, claiming that without weapons, there will be no changes, but is eventually persuaded by missionary Sarah Miller (Julie Benz) to make the trip.
During their trip, the boat is stopped by a trio of pirates driving a gunboat who demand Sarah in exchange for passage. After negotiations fail, Rambo kills the pirates with his cold war-era Colt M1911 and later dumps a single body in the water to conceal the evidence, as well as burning the rest of the bodies on the return trip. Michael is greatly disturbed at Rambos actions; upon arriving in Burma, he says that the group will travel by road and will not need him for the return trip; in addition, he intends to report his actions to the authorities. The mission goes well until the Tatmadaw, led by Major Tint, suddenly attack, slaughtering most of the villagers and two missionaries and kidnapping the rest, including Michael and Sarah. When the missionaries fail to return after ten days, their pastor (Ken Howard) comes to ask Rambos help to guide a hired team of five mercenaries, Lewis (Graham McTavish), School Boy (former SBS) (Matthew Marsden), En-Joo (former SEAL) (Tim Kang), Reese (former US Army Ranger) (Jake La Botz), and Diaz (former US Army Special Forces) (Reynaldo Galledos), to the village where the missionaries were last seen.
Rambo agrees and accompanies the mercenaries to the drop-off. He offers to help but is refused by the teams leader Lewis, an ex-Special Air Service operative, who demands he stay at the boat. As the mercenary team arrives at the village, a squad of Tatmadaw soldiers show up with a group of hostages. The soldiers are playing a game, forcing prisoners to run through a rice paddy with landmines, and betting on the outcome. The team takes cover, planning to stand by and (seemingly reluctantly) let the hostages be killed in order to avoid provoking a response from a much larger group of soldiers. Having disregarded Rambo as a simple boatman, the mercenaries are shocked when he appears and single-handedly wipes out the entire squad of Tatmadaw soldiers with his compound bow, allowing the hostages to escape unscathed.
Rambo convinces the team to avenge the massacre and save the hostages at the P.O.W. camp after he witnesses the destroyed village filled with mutilated human and animal corpses and later kills the patrol making fun of some locals. Rambo and the mercenaries stealthily infiltrate the camp and successfully locate and rescue Sarah and the other prisoners and flee with them. Rambo manages to get rid of a pursue team by making a booby trap from a dud WW2 Tallboy bomb. Tint quickly learns of the situation and ruthlessly investigates with the help of his army. The Tatmadaw manage to capture everyone except for Rambo, Sarah, and School Boy, the groups sniper. Just as the captured mercenaries and hostages are to be executed, Rambo hijacks a UAZ-469 jeep-mounted .50-caliber M2 machine gun and ignites an intense shootout. Tint hides as the firefight escalates and kills one of the missionaries. After this, En-Joo is killed by an M67 grenade. The Tatmadaw, having a large numerical advantage, come close to victory but the Karen rebels show up and join the fight, turning the tide of the battle. Tint, realizing his defeat, attempts to escape the area, but Rambo intercepts and disembowels him.
In the final scene, encouraged by Sarahs words Rambo returns to his home in the United States, Rambo is seen walking along an Arizona highway until he sees a horse farm and a rusted mailbox. Reading the name "R. Rambo" Rambo smiles and walks down the gravel driveway as the credits roll.Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo
Julie Benz as Sarah Miller
Paul Schulze as Michael Burnett
Matthew Marsden as School Boy
Graham McTavish as Lewis
Reynaldo Gallegos as Diaz
Tim Kang as En-Joo
Jake La Botz as Reese
Ken Howard as Father Marsh
Maung Maung Khin as Tint
In between the making of the third and fourth films in the Rambo franchise, the films original producer, Carolco Pictures, went out of business. In 1997, Miramax Films purchased the Rambo franchise. The following year, Miramax subsidiary Dimension Films intended to make another film, and a writer was hired to pen the script, but any attempts to make it were deterred by Stallone, who had stated that he no longer wanted to make action movies. In 2005, the studio sold those rights to Nu Image/Millennium Films.
Filming started on January 22, 2007 and ended on May 4, 2007. The movie was shot at Chiang Mai, Thailand as well as in Mexico and the United States in Arizona and California.
While filming near Burma, Stallone and the rest of the crew narrowly avoided being shot by the Burmese military. Stallone described Burma as a "hellhole". He said "we had shots fired above our heads" and that he "witnessed survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land-mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off."
John Rambo was the original working title for the film but was changed because Stallone thought that audiences might think that this is the final film in the Rambo series (due to the then recently released Rocky Balboa), which was not his original intent. In many other countries, the title John Rambo is kept because the first Rambo movie, First Blood, was released as Rambo in many foreign territories. The film premiered on television as Rambo, but the title sequence referred to it as John Rambo.
On October 12, 2007, Lionsgate announced that the film title was being changed to Rambo: To Hell and Back. After some negative feedback from the online community, Stallone spoke with AICNs Harry Knowles and said:
"Lionsgate jumped the gun on this. I just was thinking that the title John Rambo was derivative of Rocky Balboa and might give people the idea that this is the last Rambo film, and I dont necessarily feel that it will be. Hes definitely a superb athlete, theres no reason he cant continue onto another adventure. Like John Wayne with The Searchers."
Brian Tyler composed the original score for the film. Stallone wanted Tyler to incorporate Jerry Goldsmiths original themes into the movie. He did not rely on Goldsmiths actual theme, though he used it enough to tie this film to the others, musically, and also based his own theme and orchestrations on the style of the original to maintain the musical series. The soundtrack includes 20 tracks. Tyler also coincidentally composed the soundtrack to The Hunted, a film noted with striking similarities to the first Rambo film, First Blood.
All music composed by Brian Tyler.
Rambo opened in 2,751 North American theaters on January 25, 2008 and grossed $6,490,000 on its opening day, and $18,200,000 over its opening weekend. It was the second highest grossing movie for the weekend in the U.S. and Canada behind Meet the Spartans. The film has a box office gross of $113,344,290, of which $42,754,105 was from Canada and the United States.
In an unprecedented move, Europes biggest cinema chain (and the third biggest in the world), Odeon, controversially refused to show the film on any of its screens in the United Kingdom, blaming "commercial differences". UCI followed suit in its cinemas in Ireland which were managed by Odeon. The film was, however, shown in Ireland and the United Kingdom by other theater chains such as Empire Cinemas, Vue, Cineworld and Ward Anderson. The film was not shown in the French-speaking part of Switzerland due to legal and commercial problems with the distributor, even if it was available on screens of France and the Swiss German-speaking part.
The film gained mixed reviews from critics, earning a 37% rating on the movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
In his review for The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, "Mr. Stallone is smart enough — or maybe dumb enough, though I tend to think not — to present the mythic dimensions of the character without apology or irony. His face looks like a misshapen chunk of granite, and his acting is only slightly more expressive, but the man gets the job done. Welcome back." Michael H. Price of Fort Worth Business Press wrote, "Stallone invests the role with a realistic acceptance of the aging process, and with traces reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart in 1951’s The African Queen and Clint Eastwood in 1992’s Unforgiven — to say nothing of the influences that the original First Blood had absorbed from Marlon Brando in 1953’s The Wild One and Tom Laughlin in 1971’s Billy Jack." Jonathan Garret (a former writer for the Atlanta Journal Constitution) said in an interview: "Rambo is the most violent movie I have ever seen. The last 11 minutes of the film are so violent, it makes We Were Soldiers look like Sesame Street".
When asked what his take on the film was, First Blood writer David Morrell said:
Im happy to report that overall I’m pleased. The level of violence might not be for everyone, but it has a serious intent. This is the first time that the tone of my novel First Blood has been used in any of the movies. Its spot-on in terms of how I imagined the character — angry, burned-out, and filled with self-disgust because Rambo hates what he is and yet knows its the only thing he does well. ... I think some elements could have been done better, [but] I think this film deserves a solid three stars.
The film is currently banned by the Burmese government. The military ruling party has ordered DVD vendors in Burma not to distribute the film due to the movies content. Despite having never been released there theatrically or on DVD, Rambo is, however, available there in bootleg versions. Despite the film being unpopular among some of the population due to the negative portrayal of the Tatmadaw, the opposition youth group Generation Wave copied and distributed the film as anti-Tatmadaw propaganda.
According to Karen Freedom Fighters, the movie gave them a great boost of morale. Burmese freedom fighters have even adopted dialogue from the movie (most notably "Live for nothing, or die for something") as rallying points and battle cries. "That, to me," said Sylvester Stallone, "is one of the proudest moments Ive ever had in film." Also, overseas Burmese have praised the movie for its vivid portrayal of the militarys oppression of the Karen people.
The DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions were released in the U.S. on May 27, 2008. The DVD is in 1 and 2 disc editions. The Special edition has a 2.40 anamorphic widescreen presentation and a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track. The single editions have a standard 5.1 Dolby Digital track. The Blu-ray Disc has Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS HD 7.1 Tracks. The DVD and Blu-ray Disc on disc one have the film, deleted scenes, 6 featurettes, and commentary by Sylvester Stallone. The Blu-ray Disc also has 2 extra special features, that includes a trailer gallery.
The 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions have a digital copy of the film. There is also a 6 disc DVD set of all four Rambo films, packaged in a limited edition tin case with over 20 bonus features. A Blu-ray Disc set with Rambo 1-3 was also released.
The DVD was released in the UK on June 23, 2008.
The film was the 19th best selling DVD of 2008 with 1.7m units sold and an overall gross of $39,206,346.
When asked about the moral of the film in a Daily Yomiuri Online interview, Sylvester Stallone mentioned that he will be doing an Extended Cut of the film, which will go by the original title of John Rambo. Nevertheless, the news became most well known after a May 2008 interview with Jay Leno when he announced the work of a directors cut, and that the proceeds would go to Burma. On top of this, an online petition appeared shortly after the announcement in order to "motivate" Stallone in completing this new cut. At the 2008 Comic-Con, it was vaguely announced that the directors cut (or as they labeled it, "extended cut") would be released in 2009, though no other specifics were given. Additionally, the directors cut premiered at the 2008 Zurich Film Festival. DVD Active announced it would premiere only on Blu-ray Disc in Canada and the United States on July 27, 2010.
The extended cuts Blu-ray was released under the original title, "Rambo", however, the film replaces the original title with "John Rambo". The extended cut reinstates most of the deleted/extended scenes featured in the theatrical versions 2-disc special edition release, as well as some unreleased footage and some significant alternations. The extended cut premiered on cable television (VIA Spike TV) on July 11, 2010, two weeks before its Blu-ray release. It then had its encore presentation on August 8 and August 9, 2010, promoting Stallones then latest film The Expendables. The extended cut runs 99 minutes long, whereas the theatrical version runs 91 minutes. Of those run times the end credits roll for 11 minutes.
On February 2012, Sean Hood offered an update on his Twitter account stating that Rambo 5 is on hold as Sly finishes Expendables 2. He hasnt decided if R5 will be an Unforgiven or a passing of the torch." Meanwhile, Stallone confirmed a fifth installment, saying this one would be the last one. Under the title Rambo: Last Stand, it would bring Rambo to Arizonas Mexican border and to Mexico as well.