Sylvester Stallone “Will Not Portray” Rambo In TV Series

rambo first blood part 2 Well, that didn’t take long to clear up. Just a few days ago, Entertainment One and Nu Image announced that they’re working on a Rambo TV series that film star Sylvester Stallone could possibly appear in. But now The Hollywood Reporter got exclusive word from Stallone’s people who said he will not appear on the show.

“While a television series based on the Rambo property is in development with Entertainment One and Nu Image, contrary to reports, Sylvester Stallone will certainly not reprise his role as the iconic John Rambo for the small screen,” the PR rep said. They did note that the Academy Award winning actor/screenwriter might have a hand in the creative side of things.

How do you think they’re going to handle this one, gang? The original Rambo was a Vietnam vet who could never quite fit back into society, so what will the deal be with the new version? They could go the period piece-route and keep the same basic premise or update the character as a veteran who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Also, will they just reset the whole thing or make the new character a relative of John Rambo a la the Shaft movie starring Sam Jackson? What would be your ultimate Rambo show?

Rambo TV Series In The Works, Stallone Might Star

rambo art

 

It’s time to set off some celebratory explosions, gang! According to The Hollywood Reporter, there’s a Rambo TV series in the works and it just might feature Sylvester Stallone. Everything’s in the very early stages right now, but Entertainment One and Nu Image made a deal to create and develop a show based on one of Stallone’s most iconic roles. Speaking of Sly, he’s apparently in talks to participate on some kind of creative level and possibly appear in the series. This actually sounds pretty similar to the deal Eddie Murphy made for the Beverly Hills Cop show that didn’t go to series.

John Rambo first appeared in David Morrell’s 1972 novel First Blood which was translated to the big screen in 1981 by director Ted Kotcheff and co-screenwriter Stallone. The actor returned for three more sequels including 2008’s Rambo which, along with Rocky Balboa, helped Sly get out of the slump he’d been in, cinematically speaking. The character is a Vietnam veteran who never seems to be able to win the war he’s still fighting to this day.

We Want Action Double Feature: Rambo (1985) & Predator (1987)

rambo first blood part 2 poster

For the past seven or eight years — pretty much since I got out of college — I’ve been focusing on absorbing as much new entertainment as possible, not necessarily brand new, but new to me. In that time, and going back to my days in high school and college, I’ve also been building up a collection of books, trades, movies and albums that I’ve deemed good enough to keep (or cheap enough to check out). In the past few weeks, though, I’ve been more in the mood to revisit the films and trades I love and own instead of looking for new things to devour. I’m not sure if this is a function of getting older or maybe the result of having my fill of goofy, bad movies seen on Netflix (for the time being).

Whatever the case, when Lu went down for her nap yesterday, I didn’t have the desire to flip through my ridiculously long Netflix Instant queue. Instead, I wanted to watch Rambo: First Blood II. I got a great deal on the Rambo Blu-ray set a while ago which reintroduced me to the fantastic original film, but also the whole franchise which I realized I have a lot of fond memories of.

As I noted after watching First Blood, the Rambo I really remember from my childhood — the shirtless guy with black pants, a headband and a bazooka — actually came from this sequel.  The film finds Rambo’s one time commanding officer Col. Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) approaching the imprisoned one man army corps (Sylvester Stallone, of course) with a special offer: help us with a mission in the jungles of Vietnam and get a Get Out Of Jail Free Card. Rambo takes the deal and nearly completes the mission before getting burned by the guy who’s really in charge, Marshall Murdock (Charlies Napier). With that, Rambo gets captured and tortured, but thankfully has a friend on the outside in Co (Julia Nickson) who helps him escape, a move that unleashes Rambo’s mighty vengeance on his captors and, eventually, his  betrayers.

The film includes all the bigtime action you’d expect with explosions, arrows through bad guys and even the perfect synergy of both: exploding arrows. But, what struck me once again about a Rambo movie is the fact that Stallone portrays this character with a depth and sadness that my younger self couldn’t understand. This is a guy who was trained to kill and he’s great at it. Now he’s in the real world and he can’t catch a break. A sheriff thinks he doesn’t look right and tries kicking him out of town. A shady military guy dangles freedom in front of him and leaves him high and dry. For him, the war is never over and he’ll probably never get to win, this time or any other. Sure, you can watch this movie and enjoy the aforementioned explosions, but there’s more going on which I can appreciate these days.

predator poster One layer of Rambo I noticed that was completely unintended, though, is its similarity to Predator. Rather, since the latter came out two years after the former, Predator‘s similarity to Rambo. Both movies feature an incredibly well-trained person going into a jungle to do a job, getting betrayed or lied to and going up against an unforeseen challenge that takes all their skills to defeat. For Rambo it’s an army of Vietnamese baddies, for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, it’s an alien hunter with crazy weapons. Both movies also include a strong female character who plays an important part in the proceedings, a general lack of shirts in the end, super cool “preparing for battle” montages (a favorite genre trope of mine) and even similar dudes-holding-guns posters.

But, I’m far less interested in talking about the similarities between these two flicks than I am about how much I love them both(though someone should definitely do a mash-up). In the case of Predator — a favorite of mine going back to the Family Video rental days on into my Wizard internship when I scored the ass-kicking nickname Dutch after watching the first two Predator movies in a weekend — the film greatly benefits from its extended cast. We’re not just seeing Schwarzenegger in the jungle, but his whole crew, a gang consisting of Dillon (Carl Weathers), Mac (Bill Duke), Blain (Jesse Ventura, before we knew how crazy he is), Billy (Sonny Landham), Poncho (Richard Chaves) and Hawkins (screenwriter and Iron Man 3 director Shane Black). It’s important to have such a beefy group of dudes because they offer the Predator something to fight.

And fight they do! From the scene where everyone just desperately blasts into the jungle hoping to hit what took their friend to Billy making a last ditch effort to try and stop their pursuer, this movie is jam packed with iconic action set pieces all of which lead up to the king-daddy of them all as a mud-covered Dutch does his damndest to kill this thing with a series of cunning booby traps. I have no idea if it was intended or not, but there’s a real “natural versus technological” theme in that last fight in which the one with fewer pieces of tech winds up winning the day over the more “advanced” species.

Anyway, Predator doesn’t have the depth that Rambo does and that’s fine by me. If I felt for every single action hero the way I do for John Rambo, these things would be a lot less fun, but every now and then it’s good to actually feel something in addition to explosion-fueled excitement.

I mentioned many of the similarities between these two movies above but there’s one more that I think it worth noting: both have had fantastic sequels in the past five years. After mounting a comeback in 2006 with Rocky Balboa, Stallone decided to revisit one of his other famous characters in the wildly intense Rambo from 2008. Meanwhile, the Predator franchise, which has been Dutch-less since the initial outing, came back swinging with Predators in 2010, a film I really enjoyed and want to revisit soon. Heck Stallone even said at one point that he’d like to see Rambo face off against a Predator, but I think he was half joking. In fact, after doing a little research, it turns out Stallone was interested in adapting a book called Hunter which would, essentially, do just that. I fully support this decision!

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Havoc Vs. Turbo From Rambo

This will probably be the last Rambo TCT for a little while at least. After reviewing First Blood and then writing about this commercial last week, I just couldn’t stop watching Rambo toy commercials on YouTube. I love this particular one because it’s such a crazy mix. You’ve got the very grounded, movie-like villain Havoc who’s decked out with all kinds of guns and what not, the kind of guy you’ve seen in plenty of action movies. On the other side you’ve got Turbo who, sure, has a ton of guns, but then this crazy, sci-fi futuristic helmet thing that appears out of nowhere. I love that weird mix of influences and ideas. Here’s hoping NECA adds both of these characters to their line of Rambo figures.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Rambo & General Warhawk

Today’s selection for TCT actually came about from a pair of recent posts. First of all, I talked about innapropriate toy lines based on R-rated films for kids with last week’s entry in this column when talking about Alien Vs. Predator toys. A few days later, I wrote about re-watching and really enjoying First Blood. So, what better way to continue both subjects by showing off some of the toy tie-ins for the animated series Rambo: The Force Of Freedom?

I chose this particular commercial out of the group available on YouTube because this is the specific Rambo figure I remember having. As it turns out, this is how the character looks throughout most of Rambo: First Blood Part 2, a film that more prominently influenced mass culture than the original. I also that that General Warhawk’s sword launcher was pretty rad! It’s also interesting that the “battle action weapons” seem to be pull-string activated. I don’t remember any other toys doing that.

First Blood (1982) Is Awesome

first blood poster Before talking about how much I enjoyed First Blood, I want to talk a little bit about my history with the character of Rambo. As a kid growing up in the 80s, you could not escape this huge idea of the character. I don’t remember when I saw the movies, but I knew there was this bandana-wearing dude running around shirtless shooting people and wielding a big knife. He. Was. Awesome.

Part of the reason I knew about the character, aside from just living in the world at that time, because they heavily marketed this guy for kids, which is funny when you think about the fact that the violent franchise is built around a Vietnam vet with PTSD. There was a 65 episode cartoon called Rambo: The Force Of Freedom. That series also spawned a line of action figures which I will feature in next week’s Toy Commercial Tuesday (plug!).  I definitely had one of the shirtless, black pants action figures, but think I lost it or someone swiped it. I should have gone on a Rambo-like rampage until I got it back, but that’s tough to do when your 7 or whatever.

I mention all of that because the version of Rambo that lived in my head for so long doesn’t really match up to the character seen in the first film. When I finally got around to watching First Blood for the first time in high school, I was confused and lost interest. “Why’s Rambo just walking around like a guy? Why isn’t he blowing anything up? Eh, what’s on the internet.” A week or so back I got a hankering to watch the movie again, but it wasn’t on Netflix Instant so I scoped it out on Amazon and discovered they were having a big sale on the box set, so I got myself a little birthday present.

While I’m not sure how great the BR conversion is (some of the blacks looked pretty spotty), this movie really is beautiful. Director Ted Kotcheff really took advantage of the Washington setting and made sure to grab wide sweeping shots of the landscape. I don’t know if it was his intent, but I got the feeling that part of the emotional heart of this story was to juxtapose the beauty of the location with the ugliness of assumption and violence that it winds up being the backdrop for.

And really, this is an emotional movie on many levels. You’ve obviously got the emotional states and responses by the main characters the fuel the thing: Brian Dennehy’s assumptions about the kind of person Rambo is leads to a lot of the trouble, while the combined crap of Rambo’s life lead him to head back into town instead of just leaving like he easily could have. More than that, though, you really feel what Rambo went through (as much as anyone who hasn’t gone through a war can do so). I’ve seen plenty of movies revolving around the Vietnam War and every time I do, I’m reminded of how terrible people were to the returning soldiers. These are guys who either by their own choice or thanks to the draft were put into a system that’s designed to turn you into a killer (or at the very least, a person with the skills to kill), sent to a faraway place with little to no support, immersed in death and killing and then expected to come back home and integrate into society? That’s the plight of every soldier, but it was rougher for the Vietnam vets because, unlike their WWII brethren, they didn’t get parades or cheers, but instead angry protesters and jeers. I’m amazed that any of those guys were able to come back and be productive — or at the very least non-destructive — members of society.

So there’s a lot of that in this film; a lot of heart and a lot of anger. But the action scenes are also really solid. You’ve got everything from the car/motorcycle chase into the woods and the helicopter coming after Rambo to Rambo’s town-centric rampage. This dude’s not messing around and has certainly been pushed too far.

One of the interesting aspects of this film is that it’s very gray when it comes to morality. You want to root for Rambo because he’s been through so much, but does he really need to take his war into town where civilians can be hurt? No, not really. And, at the heart of things, Dennehy’s character really does have the town’s best interested at heart even if this all started because he couldn’t get past a guy’s long hair and general scruffiness. If memory serves, the three other Rambo films don’t have much of this in that Rambo’s sent into a place where his mission is to kill the bad guys — and they’re often really, really bad guys as is the case in 2008’s Rambo — but in this original film, he’s up against a bunch of townspeople who are just trying to keep their home safe. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that even if their motivations are based on misinformation.

It’s not often that I come away from an action movie both pumped up from the action scenes and thinking about something. I like when that happens, just not all the time. Too much thinking about these things tends to lead to feeling bad about the usually catastrophic level of death and violence featured in these movies.

Sylvester Stallone Is Awesome

I had a revelation while watching Over The Top (1987) this weekend: Sylvester Stallone really is a good actor. In addition to his obvious bad assery, I found myself feeling bad for the big galoot as he struggled with dealing with his son. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, I’ve seen a surprising amount of Stallone movies this pass year including Death Race 2000, First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Over The Top, Tango and Cash (how did I not blog about those three?), Cliffhanger and Rambo. I’ve also seen most of the Rocky movies in my days, but need to rewatch them, Cop Land and, as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t wait for The Expendables. Two of those I’ve watched recently, so let’s jump in, shall we?

A few weeks back I had some free time on the weekend (I came down with a crazy cold while we were trying to paint our bathroom, I swear) and decided to give Cliffhanger (1993) on Netflix Instant Watch. I got so into it that Em, who was graciously finishing the painting while I slowly turned into a snot machine, heard me yelling at the TV and was about to yell at me for playing video games while she was working until she came in to see me on the edge of my seat.

See, the thing is that THEY’RE ON THE SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN. Sure there’s actors, stuntmen, matte painting and other special effects, but this is before cheap CGI, so someone was actually on a mountain and you can feel that danger. I don’t know if it was unconscious or not because it popped into my head right away “Woah, that’s high up, someone had to actually do that,” but I definitely felt it the whole time. Just try and tell me this isn’t intense:

I’d never seen the movie, so it held a lot of surprises for me, especially when it came to the cast. I pretty much only knew that Stallone and the girl from Northern Exposure (Janine Turner) were in it. I had no idea John Lithgow, Michael Rooker and the cop from CSI Miami (Rex Linn) were all in it. You gotta love Lithgow as a villain.

The thing that surprised me about both of these Stallone movies is how much deeper the story is than you’d expect. With Cliffhanger, you’d just expect it to be dudes on a mountain making other dudes find their lost money, but instead you’ve got all this backstory between Stallone and Rooker and Stallone and Turner. The same goes for Over The Top, which I picked up at Best Buy for $5 last week even though I’d never seen it before. It’s not JUST the Stallone arm wrestling movie. He’s also dealing with his 10-year-old kid who he’s never met before (played by David Mendenhall, the voice of Daniel Witwicky in Transformers), the kid’s sick mom, her dad (played by Lost Highway’s Robert Loggia!) and a bunch of dudes in tank tops at the arm wrestling championship.

Of course, it comes with its fair share of ridiculousness too. Stallone’s a truck driver and one of the prizes for the American arm wrestling championship just so happens to be a big rig. Exactly what he needs. Huh, go figure. There’s also a whole series of scenes in which his son steels a car, drive it to the airport, gives it to a security guard, flies to Las Vegas, avoids his grandpa’s goons (one of which, I’m pretty sure played a goon in Road House, the one with the curly hair) and makes his way to the arm wrestling championships all while his dad is in the middle of the competition. Crazy! How does he do this? Were credit cards even around back then? It’s like they tried to throw a little Home Alone in the middle of this action movie, it’s great. You’ve also got a great series of weirdos he has to arm wrestle (all of whom are much, MUCH bigger than him.

But, yeah, of course the best moments involve Stallone being a badass:

d>

If you can’t get behind this kind of awesomeness, I pity you.

Two more quick things. One, the movie was so rad that it earned itself an action figure line back in 1986 with real arm wrestling action! I very much wish I could find a commercial online for this, but as the basic video search I did on YouTube brought nothing, click through to this Virtual Toy Chest link, you’ll be doing yourself a service my friend.

And second, just try and tell me that this painted image of Stallone, arm extended with a truck and a hawk behind him isn’t cooler than anything you’ve seen in the past 13 years. Bazinga!