Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Produced by||Kevin King, Avi Lerner, John Thompson|
|Written by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Based on||Characters by |
|Starring||Sylvester Stallone |
Jake La Botz
Maung Maung Khin
|Music by||Brian Tyler |
Jerry Goldsmith (Themes)
|Editing by||Sean Albertson|
|Studio||Millennium Films |
Nu Image Films
for Equity Pictures Medienfonds GmbH
|Release date(s)|| |
|Running time||91 minutes |
|Country||‹See Tfd› Germany |
Rambo (also known as Rambo IV or John Rambo) is a 2008 American/German action film starring Sylvester Stallone reprising his famous role as Cold War/Vietnam veteran John Rambo. Stallone also co-wrote and directed the film. It is the fourth and most recent 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 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. This film shows more killings than any other of the Rambo series - 236. Rambo kills a group of pirates, an entire squad of Burmese soldiers, and then, at the climax of the film, a huge number of Burmese army soldiers whom he shoots with a jeep-mounted machine gun. Stallone justified this in a press conference by saying the violence in the film was to draw attention to the ongoing problems in Myanmar.
The film grossed $113,204,290 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 released on Blu-ray two weeks later.
Twenty years after the events of Rambo III, 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 U.S. 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 and later burns their bodies to conceal the evidence. Michael is greatly disturbed at Rambo's actions; upon arriving in Burma, he says that the group will travel by road and will not need him for the return trip. 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 Rambo's help to guide a hired team of five mercenaries 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 team's leader Lewis Reese (Graham McTavish), 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 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. Rambo and the mercenaries stealthily infiltrate the camp and successfully locate and rescue Sarah and the other prisoners and flee with them. 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 a mercenary known as "School Boy" the group's sniper (Matthew Marsden). Just as the captured mercenaries and hostages are to be executed, Rambo hijacks a jeep-mounted .50-caliber machine gun and kills dozens of the Tatmadaw. Tint hides as the slaughter happens and kills one of the missionaries, after this one of the mercenaries is killed by an M2 frag 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.
Encouraged by Sarah's words, Rambo travels to the United States and returns home, walking along a rural highway past a horse farm and a rusted mailbox bearing the name "R. Rambo".
- Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo
- Julie Benz as Sarah Miller
- Matthew Marsden as School Boy, a young British sniper
- Graham McTavish as Lewis
- Tim Kang as En-Joo
- Reynaldo Gallegos as Diaz
- Jake La Botz as Reese
- Maung Maung Khin as Tint
- Paul Schulze as Michael Burnett
- Cameron Pearson as Jeff - Missionary #4
- Thomas Peterson as Dentist - Missionary #2
- Tony Skarberg as Videographer - Missionary #3
- James Wearing Smith as Preacher - Missionary #5
- Kasikorn Niyompattana as Snake Hunter #2
- Jordan T as Snake Hunter #1
- Supakorn "Tok" Kitsuwon as Myint
- Aung Aay Noi as Lt. Aye
- Ken Howard as Rev. Arthur Marsh
- Aung Theng as Pirate Leader
- Pornpop "Tor" Kampusiri as Snake Village Owner
- Wasawat Panyarat as Snake Village MC
- Kammul Kawtep as Snake Village Young Charmer
Filming started on February 23, 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."
The most recent installment of the Rambo franchise had undergone many name changes during pre-release, and has been known as the following:
- Rambo IV - The title used in Brazil and Russia (Russian: Рэмбо 4), due to the fact that First Blood was originally released as simply Rambo (or as Rambo: First Blood in Russia (Russian: Рэмбо: Первая кровь)) in those countries and also this is how the film is completely known and referred to as by fans and the public.
- John Rambo - This 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.
- Rambo: Regreso al Infierno - (Rambo: Return to Hell in Spanish) - The name of the film in Mexico and Latin America, and In other Latin countries, the film was re-titled from Rambo: Regreso al Infierno to John Rambo: Vuelta al Infierno (John Rambo: Back to Hell in Spanish) and in some other Latin regions, the film's original title John Rambo still remains.
- Rambo: El Regreso - (Rambo: The Return) in Chile, as First Blood was also known as Rambo in those territories.
- Rambo 4: John Rambo - Back to Hell - Singapore title
- Rambo: The Final Battlefield - Japanese title.
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 AICN's 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 don't necessarily feel that it will be. He's definitely a superb athlete, there's no reason he can't 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 Goldsmith's original themes into the movie. He did not rely on Goldsmith's 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. Brian Tyler also composed the soundtrack to The Hunted in 2003, a film with striking similarities to the first Rambo film, First Blood.
- Rambo Theme 3:34
- No Rules of Engagement 7:09
- Conscription 2:55
- The Rescue 4:04
- Aftermath 2:33
- Searching for Missionaries 7:07
- Hunting Mercenaries 2:44
- Crossing into Burma 6:59
- The Village 1:44
- Rambo Returns 2:44
- When You Are Pushed 2:26
- The Call to War 2:52
- Atrocities 1:40
- Prison Camp 4:42
- Attack on the Village 3:01
- Rambo Takes Charge 2:23
- The Compound 7:48
- Battle Adagio 3:10
- Rambo Main Title 3:30
- Rambo End Title 2:59
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, Europe's 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 Republic of Ireland cinemas, which were managed by Odeon. The film was, however, shown in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland 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 was rated R by the MPAA for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language.
The film gained mixed reviews from critics, but was well received by fans. It earned a 36% rating on the movie review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes, but in CinemaScore polls, the film received an average A- grade from audiences.
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:
I'm 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. It's 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 it's 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.
Reception in Myanmar
The film is currently banned by the Myanmar government. The military junta has ordered DVD vendors in Myanmar not to distribute the film due to the movie's 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. Myanmarese 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 I've ever had in film." Also, overseas Myanmarese have praised the movie for its vivid portrayal of the military's oppression of the Karen people.[dead link]
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 director's 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 director's cut (or as they labeled it, "extended cut") would be released in 2009, though no other specifics were given. Additionally, the director's 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 cover art does not say John Rambo, but simply its current title. However, in the opening credits, it goes by the name of John Rambo. The "new scenes" in the extended cut are the deleted scenes (seen on the Rambo 2-Disc features) just simply reinstated back. There are no new action sequences but there are a few alternations: a few new sound effects are added, the opening mine field scene is moved to appear later in the movie, Rambo's monologue about war as he carves a new blade is replaced with Reverend Marsh's prayer, a brief scene of Rambo waving to Reverend Marsh as he and the mercenaries sail off into Burma, the scene where Lewis complains on the boat is altered with different camera angles and the frame of Rambo spitting is removed, and the scene where Rambo waves back to Sarah and Michael and walks behind a jeep is reinstated. 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 Stallone's then latest film The Expendables. The extended cut runs 99 minutes long, whereas the theatrical version runs 91 minutes.
- Human rights in Burma
- Karen people
- Burma VJ
- Beyond Rangoon
- The Lady
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- Rambo (2008)
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- YouTube - Latest Rambo Movie Rouses Hopes in Burma
- Rambo DVD Release - DVD Active
- Rambo 6 DVD Set - DVD Active
- Rambo DVD and Blu-ray Disc details
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