How to Kill the Reputation of a Genre or Rambo: First Blood Part II

I have gotten many negative reactions when I have told people that I am interested in war movies. There are many people who think a war movie will always glorify violence and favour supermacho heroes that are close to brainless machines using guns for fun and sport.

I was always reluctant to watch Rambo until I finally gave in. I don´t think that First Blood Part I is that bad. The depiction of a Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress syndrome is quite OK. However, I don´t like Stallone. His facial expressions are far too limited.

But when it comes to First Blood Part II… That is another story. I truly believe that this movie damaged the reputation of the whole genre.

“Do we get to win this time…?” Now seriously… Do you not consider this to be totally tasteless?

Here is what the journalist James Mottram has to add:

If the original film suggests men like Rambo are still fighting the war back home, be it on the inside or in a mountain-town, its sequel took far greater liberties. By the early 1980s, after the dust had settled on grandiose epics like Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter, Hollywood saw the opportunity to rewrite the history of the Vietnam War. A film so guilty of this it should be court-martialled, Rambo: First Blood Part II recast its embittered lead –  jailed in a civilian maximum-security prison between the first two films – as a one-man wager of war. A pure “fighting machine”, as his mentor and father-figure Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) dubs him, he is a nostalgic reflection of what Philip Caputo, in his 1977 book A Rumor of War , called “that savage, heroic time… before America became a land of salesmen and shopping-centres. (James Mottram in Under Fire: A Century of War Movies, p. 155)

What do you think? Did Rambo: First Blood Part II not have its part in killing the reputation of war movies?

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6 thoughts on “How to Kill the Reputation of a Genre or Rambo: First Blood Part II

  1. TPC says:

    Seeing how Sly is an Italian-American, I wanted to take this opportunity to recommend the Frank Sinatra movie, Von Ryan’s Express, I always thought that was a reasonably good movie and then, I saw it again, and yes it is. Ol’ Blue Eyes is in fact, an American POW in Italy in the movie. It’d be good to see again before I recommend it too highly but I do believe it merits a good rating. Of course, ’60s movies like the Dirty Dozen, have a different mindset. Too a minor extent, Inglorious Basterds has a bit of a ’60s World War II movie mindset in my view.

    About the Dozen and a common theme repeated in a number of war movies, Inglorious Basterds, Dirty Dozen, etc. is the idea of Americans or English getting in German uniforms to do some espionage work. This always sounds very farfetched to me but one time I was reading a book of “True” World War II stories and in one instance, that’s exactly what they did. I’m still a bit unsure of it but it was written as having occurred.

    One more War movie from the late ’60s I believe is called Hornet’s Nest with Rock Hudson that takes place in Italy. Again, the mind set back then seemed to often not portray actual history but to create a story in World War II times. Reference: http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.jsp?cid=18556&mainArticleId=138976 From what I remember, a bit of a hokey type of movie but again, maybe it deserves a 2nd chance viewing.

    • Thanks for an interesting comment. I like to mix and not only watch newer films. I did not finish Inglorious Basterds, was the wrong moment or wrong movie for me, don’t know. Will have a look at all your suggestions on imbd and maybe include one or the other later. I have a big “German war movies-project” I am planning to do. The Bridge etc all 60ies I believe but very grim and realistic.

  2. TPC says:

    Actually, I concur with you on “Inglorious Basterds”, I finished it but did not really like it and I’m usually generous with movies. I guess it is more about the producer Tarantino than about the subject matter. Some rave over it, I was disappointed and I believe last December is when it came out on DVD, it was a big deal.

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