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  • Writer's pictureThe Screen Room

Superior Sequels: First Blood vs Rambo

This week on Superior Sequels I thought I'd take a look at a franchise that’s been the topic of conversation of late (there’s talk of another movie despite Sylvester Stallone feeling like it’s run its course).

I’ve taken the liberty of narrowing this debate down to just one sequel because, really…is there any question?

First Blood (1982) vs Rambo (2008)

If you weren’t aware, Stallone’s classic action thriller First Blood is based on the 1972 novel of the same name by David Morrell. Morrell wasn’t involved with any of the sequels that followed. Instead, various writers including Sly himself wrote the stories and screenplays, and the whole franchise kind of became Stallone’s baby.

For me, Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) and Rambo III (1988) suffer from that 80s cheese machismo that proved so popular at the time. Those films seem to be more about action and explosions than they do characters and story. Not that I don’t like action and explosions, I just feel like this debate really only comes down to the two films in the series that are the whole package. Also, as much as I enjoyed the latest sequel, Rambo: Last Blood (2019), I felt it wasn’t needed after the ending of Rambo (2008), therefore I haven’t included it either.

Anyway, both of these movies are brilliant in their own right. Rambo (2008) in my opinion is one of the best belated/legacy sequels of all the ones we’ve seen. It’s one of the few examples of how a sequel to a movie made years prior should be (Top Gun: Maverick, Blade Runner 2049 and Rocky Balboa being other examples).

But which is the better movie?

Both have simple, yet compelling stories but Rambo (2008) turned the violence and blood and guts up to 11.

Is the original story of a troubled Vietnam veteran at war with a small town Sheriff (and himself) still the best movie in the franchise? Or does the surprise return of John Rambo 20 years after his last outing surpass it?

Let me know in the comments.


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