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Rambo: Last Blood

Posted by THEPOGG on Sep 27, 2019

This week sees the return of an 80s icon. Bandanna, long hair and a never say die attitude should not confuse this muscle-bound Vietnam veteran with tennis bad boy, John McEnroe. Rambo has had nearly four decades to lose that killer instinct, grow a beer belly, develop type 2 diabetes and subscribe to a monthly craft beer delivery service. But if there is one thing we can be sure of it is that Rambo, despite Stallone’s age, will not have softened and will not be heading quietly into the night.

The synopsis for “Rambo: Last Blood” is reassuringly brief:

“When a friend’s daughter is kidnapped, Rambo crosses the U.S.-Mexico border to bring her home but finds himself up against one of Mexico’s most ruthless cartels.”

A one sentence summary should mean that Stallone has left adequate room in this 5th and (we can only assume) final incarnation of his mega franchise for plenty of fighting, killing, exploding and prolonged spells of broody soul-searching.

Most of us probably thought that “Rambo” (the fourth film) would be the last time that John James would find a use for his survival knife or compound bow but in one final show of geriatric defiance Stallone will set his hero off to kill for, not for friends, but for family.

With a title that spells out finality many are asking if this might be the time that Rambo finally takes one stray bullet too many. However, with rumours already circulating about a potential TV series reboot, this might not be the last time we see the character but it is likely to be the last time we Stallone embody it.

In my humble and ultimately inconsequential opinion, Rambo: First Blood is (I haven’t seen “Rambo: Last Blood”) the standout film of the franchise. With the subsequently cash hungry sequels that followed it, it can be easy to forgot how relevant that movie was when it was first released.

America’s troubled involvement in Vietnam may have ended in 1973 but the narrative of that war still had a long way to go before it could come close to reaching any sort of conclusion. In 1982, the year “Rambo: First Blood” was released, the wounds were clearly still too exposed, too visceral for many movie studios to consider sending it our cinema screens. “Rambo: First Blood” changed that, paving the way for a splurge of Vietnam themed films in the mid to late 80s: everything from “Platoon” in 1986 to “Full Metal Jacket” in 1987. However, the remarkable thing about Rambo was not the depiction of war but the depiction of its effect on the soldiers who fought in it.

It’s far too easy to lump “Rambo: First Blood” in with so many of the testosterone, gun-toting action movies of the 1980s. Of course, it was ridiculous in parts, but at its heart this is a movie about PTSD, and the hell that soldiers have to go through when reintegrating into society. The first in the franchise had the soul and the grit of a 70s independent movie, but with enough of the Hollywood sheen that would come to define much of what we can now nostalgically love about 80s cinema.

The films that followed lost everything that made the original special, but then again it was a time and a place moment that allowed “Rambo: First Blood” to be the success that it was. And let us not forget who John Rambo actually was. Yes, there were the muscles and there was a lot and I mean an awful lot of killing (not in the first movie) but John Rambo wasn’t just a perfectly tuned slab of dexterous protein, he was a mentally scarred and tortured war veteran. One who had to relive the death of his closest friends every single moment of every single day and in “First Blood” he was up against who we would normally consider to be the good guys. Ultimately, he was cast aside, forgotten and deeply misunderstood by society.

John Rambo was raised by parents who never loved him. He has never loved or been loved by anyone other than those he fought alongside, something that the new instalment looks to change. Perhaps it could have all been avoided. Roughly 340 lives saved, if only our hero had been given a little love, a few hugs and a hefty dose of understanding and appreciation.

Things you might not know about Rambo

Stallone’s Rambo is based on the character from a 1972 novel, written by David Morrell. There aren’t too many dissimilarities between the two so this synopsis of the novel should sound familiar to anyone who has watched the movie:

Rambo is a Vietnam War veteran who is repeatedly picked up by the police whilst hitchhiking. He returns from the war with the highest accolade any solider can receive (The Medal of Honour) only to find himself rejected by the country he has fought for and branded a vagrant. Eventually he is imprisoned, sentenced for just over a month, but is unable to fulfil his sentence, wracked by horrific flashbacks reminding him of his time spent as a prisoner of war in a Vietnamese cell. He escapes, fighting off the prison guards, makes his way into a near-by forest and becomes the focus of a state-wide manhunt. He kills everyone who comes for him, but the main difference between the novel and film is that Morrell had absolutely no intention of writing a sequel. At the end of Morrell’s novel Rambo dies, the nature of his death left relatively ambiguous.

So what else didn’t I know about Rambo before I started reading about the films?

Well, Rambo is named after a variety of apple. The story goes that Morrell was eating a particularly tasty apple one day, asked his wife what it was called and decided there and then that the name Rambo held all the strength needed to bring his struggling war veteran to life.

Have you heard of WWII hero Audie Murphy? Well, sources claim that Rambo is based heavily on this real-life war vet. Murphy was the single most decorated American solider to survive the Second World War. A film would be made about him, called “To Hell and Back”, with the Murphy staring as himself in the role. Years later Murphy could be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder before his untimely death in an plane crash in 1971.

If you haven’t seen “Rambo: First Blood” before or in a while then this might just blow your mind. Art Galt is the only character in the entire film to die. The death count would increase substantially with each new edition to the franchise, but in that very first movie there was only 1 confirmed death. And the biggest shock of all? You could argue that Rambo didn’t really kill Galt, as he falls from a helicopter trying to avoid a rock that Rambo hurled in his direction.

Let me ask you this? Can you think of anyone other than Silvester Stallone playing the character? It’s a tough ask but it was a close-run thing. Other actors, ranging from Steve McQueen and Robert De Niro were first on the list and when they finally got to Stallone he wasn’t too keen on the idea. He only got on board when he was allowed to make a number of changes to the screenplay and ultimately turn Rambo in a much more sympathetic character than the one in Morrell’s novel.

One of the biggest changes made to the novel was keeping Rambo alive at the end. However, this only occurred after test audiences said that the ending was too grim. That the film’s message painted too negative a picture of life as a solider returning from war and as such Rambo lived on to fight quite a few more days.

”Rambo: First Blood” cost 15 million dollars to make and made a staggering 125 million at the box office. It was voted the 253rd greatest movie of all time, an impressive feat for a movie that some will wrongly try to ague holds little artistic merit.

Speaking of which, muscles don’t come easy you know and they certainly don’t guarantee a dearth of acting chops either. To get built or ripped or whatever you want to call it was easy enough for Stallone in 1982 because he’d already done that for the 3rd Rocky movie but then First Blood Part 11 came rolling round in 1985 we were in the midst of a decade where bigger was better and even more muscles were needed. To manage this Stallone would begin each day of shooting with a 2-3 hour workout, shoot the film for 10 to 11 hours and then he would end the day with a 2-3 hour workout. All this working out would turn Stallone into an 80s action movie superstar.

To finish off this wealth of Rambo based trivia, all you need to know is that after the first movie, as the killings increased dramatically with each instalment after, Rambo has failed to live up to the acclaim of that original movie. All we can do now is hope that “Rambo: Last Blood” bucks that trend and that a 73 (I know!) year old Stallone find the vigour that allowed him to define the role 38 years ago.

Back in May Stallone said a few things that might have inspired hope in those desperately seeking a good end to the franchise:

“In every film, Rambo never goes home, he goes out the to the jungle or Afghanistan. In the new one, he does come home, but in a way he never arrives. He’s there, but he’s not. That’s what the whole story is built around. As soon as he walks outside his door, he has no more control. The world controls you.”

Stallone knows how to pitch, he’s being doing it for years but if he can pull off the sort of alienation that can be interpreted from this quote then “Rambo: Last Blood” would be embracing the soul of the original movie. If he doesn’t shy away from the frailty of an aged war hero then he could tap into new vulnerabilities that, ironically enough might breathe new life into a character that many expect to see taking his last breath.

Slots, Rambo and Conflict

To tie in with the release of the new Rambo movie we will be drawing, what I believe, is the most obvious link between the franchise and slot machines. You don’t get too many slots with muscly central characters. You don’t get too many with alienated central characters either. In fact, slots with any central characters aren’t exactly all that common. However, what you do get are slots with scenarios that suggest some form of violent conflict. Any such violence is obviously only implied through the inclusion of certain weapons and the settings that some of our slots are set in.

To keep things simple I will literally only be including slots on this list if a gun appears somewhere in it, which would in turn imply the conflict that I am looking for. That means there will be some western themed slots, some gangster themed slots and maybe even a Rambo slot might find its way onto this list.

Rambo

This slot simply had to make it onto our list. Not only is it exactly what the article is about but it is a damn fine slot to boot. iSoftBet hit the nail on the head with this one. A slot that looks good, offers excellent entertainment and stunning value for money. Despite being a fair age now there is literally nothing about the Rambo slot game for me to criticise. It scored a ten out of ten and is the perfect way to kick things off.

Play the slot here for free

Dead or Alive II

Net Entertainment will feature heavily on this list and I personally don’t think there is a better way to kick things off than this. Dead or Alive II hasn’t gained the popularity that the original slot has but in my opinion it should have and then some. Having already appeared in a few of our lists this year, this slot (after Rambo) was my go to.

Play the slot here for free

Sticky Bandits

I for one am not ready to leave the Western theme behind just yet, but I am ready to take a look at another slot developer. Quickspin released Sticky Bandits a while ago now, but it still stands up in terms of the overall aesthetic. The slot looks good and it has a couple of decent features. But, more importantly, it appears to be a popular slot with the punters.

Play the slot here for free

Narcos

Net Entertainment fill up another one of our places and, to be honest they are a long way from being finished yet. Features range from the Drive By to the Locked Up feature, which once again signal an intelligent attempt to bring the features in line with the game’s central themes. Add to all of that a slots gaming experience that is fun and engaging and you don’t need to love the show to love the slot.

Play the slot here for free

Reel Steal

Reel Steal has been made to look like a 70s heist movie. There are leather jackets with wide collars, moustaches, wide brimmed hats and the odd revolver to help get those pesky bank assistants into line. There are bags of swag, briefcases with huge gems, fake passports and cameras without display screens. New York sits at the centre of the slot, with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline both projected in the background of a couple of the symbols. You get a few features and a slot that fully commits to its theme.

Play the slot here for free

Platoon

Right after the Rambo slot I had to include this. Another iSoftBet slot and another one based on an 80s Vietnam inspired movie. Platoon isn’t quite as good as Rambo but it is still a fantastic slot. The characters from the movie are all there and you get a couple of decent bonus features to go along with that. The house edge isn’t quite as good as it is in Rambo but it is still better than you will find from most slot games today.

Play the slot here for free

The One Armed Bandit

We’re back in the Wild West with this slot, adding one of Yggdrasil’s 2019 offerings to the list. It’s Yggdrasil, so the slot obviously looks the part. It also comes with Free Spins and Re-spins, with Wilds appearing during the re-spins. It is not the best Western themed slot on our list but it is still better than the average slot.

Play the slot here for free

Jack Hammer

Jack Hammer is a Net Entertainment classic. Slots don’t get much older than this one and yet despite that, Jack Hammer has lost none of its original charm. If you like comic books, “Dick Tracy” style detective noir and playing slots, then this might just be the one for you.

Play the slot here for free

Jack Hammer II

Let the sequels begin! The main difference between this sequel and all the ones that came after “Rambo: First Blood” is that this one is actually better than the original. Essentially Net Entertainment have taken everything that we liked about Jack Hammer and improved it. So the slot looks better and the features are that bit better too.

Play the slot here for free

Dead or Alive

Do I really need to say anything about this classic? This slot is over 10 years old and during that time it has almost never seen itself fall out of the top 50 most played slot games. Along with Starburst this is one of Net Entertainment’s most loved game, and quite frankly, whoa re we to argue.

Play the slot here for free

Sticky Bandits Wild Return

This sequel does exactly what the next instalment in any series should do. In other words, it improves on what came before it. Sticky Bandits Wild Return sees everything you need improved on from the original improved on, earning it a spot on this list.

Play the slot here for free

Conclusions

Like the Rambo franchise we went for a list that contained as many sequels as we could squeeze in. The most important finding to take from this list? That there might be plenty of good slots out there that imply conflict, but none of them can hold a candle to Rambo.

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