Before there was John Wick and Beatrix Kiddo. Before Chuck Norris jokes and Jason Bourne, and Schwarzenegger’s Commando, there was a John J. Rambo. American-Made killing machine and all around sad dude. And now he’s back.
Currently, television seems the place to be. Over the past couple of weeks there have been a few announcements of popular movies making the move over to our small screens. Notably there was Fargo a little while back and Robert Rodriguez’s El Marichiseries earlier this week. Well, add Rambo to that list as Avi Lerner has announced that his Nu Image production company has signed on to co-develop, with Entertainment One (eOne), a TV series based on Avi Lerner’s good pal Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo series. Lerner has stated, “I’m happy to be partnering with a prolific company like Entertainment One who has a track record of creating high quality programming for their broadcast partners around the world.”
The blood-thirsty action packed franchise kicked off in 1982 with First Blood, a very rough adaptation of David Morrell’s novel of the same name, which saw Sly’s Vietnam vet taking on a corrupt small-town lawman. John Rambo has since returned for 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II, 1988’s Rambo IIIand, most recently during Sly’s old-man action come-back, for 2008’s Rambo. Of course, this is not the first time that Rambo has been portrayed on TV. Remember Rambo: The Force of Freedom from 1986? That series lasted 65 episodes! Let’s all hope this new series will be a bit better than that. Perhaps with less shark riding.
“I’m excited by the prospect of collaborating again with my good friend Sly for an encore in this next phase of the Rambo legacy,” commented Lerner, an action movie producing vet who has produced Rambo movies in the past. eOne also seem thrilled by the chance to bring Rambo to the small screen. eOne Television CEO John Morayniss in a statement Wednesday commented, “The ability to fuse the big screen and the small screen through Avi’s feature film expertise and eOne’s domestic production capabilities and international distribution infrastructure, makes for a highly complementary partnership,”
As an added bonus, the seemingly always Stallone is currently in talks to star in the TV series too. Now, in what capacity remains to be seen. I doubt his elderly Rambo will be the focal point of the series. I would love to see a series that documents Rambo’s time in ‘Nam. There is plenty of reference in the movies as to the horrors that Rambo faced as well as his time as a POW. Stallone could easily bookend or even narrate episodes as Rambo as a way of contextualizing how it affected him into becoming the disconnected character that he is in the films.
There is plenty of material to be mined from the Rambo premise and if handled well, it could do what Band of Brothers and The Pacific did in providing a great deal of action and story but also offer a commentary on the war and how it impacted so many peoples lives and the US political landscape.
Chuck Norris. That should be enough to make any action hound jump up in joy. It’s a sequel that’s a prequel so we should be in for a wild ride here. We don’t learn much about Chuck other than he is bad ass (which we already knew) but we learn a little more about his surroundings and the reason he is a bad ass in part one. Okay, you want more plot information, well here you go. Chuck plays Colonel James Braddock, a mostly quiet, reserved guy keeping an eye on his troops. You see, it’s just after the Vietnam War and these poor soldiers have been held captive by the evil Colonel Yin for 10 years.
Normally when I start these articles I give a little introduction to what type of film I’m going to be talking about, but in this case I don’t really need to. For example – have you seen Predator? Sure you have, it’s a great piece of 1980’s action. Okay have you seen Robocop? Well if not – why not, the remake will be out soon so get a move on!
My buddy Aaron is a bartender for a certain movie theater here in Michigan, and on occasion, the theater will have advanced screenings for movies the Wednesday night prior to the film’s release. Well early this Thursday morning I got a few texts from my good friend about his thoughts on Stallone’s newest epic one-liner fest…
Aaron: It’s 2am and I just saw expendables 2 so you gotta wake up! – 2:21 AM
Aaron: I’d hate to insult the definition of plot by saying this movie had one. It’s more like, simple reasons we’re about to kill these guys. – 2:22 AM
Aaron: That being said, it was the prefect kind of movie for a cheesy ass script. – 2:22 AM
Aaron: Rambo, Die Hard, Terminator, even Chuck Norris jokes. Lots of action, average acting, some pretty good humor. – 2:24 AM
Aaron: Boob count: Zero. But I’ll give an award to Walker Texas Ranger for having the best kill. – 2:25 AM
Aaron: 3.5 Grizzlies out of 5. Is that the scale? I don’t know. I’m tired. Leave me alone. Go to sleep. – 2:28 AM
For those of you wanting to see 80 year old Sylvester Stallone running around killing more random foreigners, then look no further than Rambo 5: Rambo kills Mexicans! Okay, so that’s not really what the title is but there is more talk about there being a fifth installment of the franchise which last saw a tired looking John Rambo owning people left and right in Burma. Supposedly this would be the final installment in the Rambo saga, being more of a small town affair as First Blood was. I see John causing some carnage against cartel folks in a small border town and I’m good with that. I hate cartel guys.
This guy is so excited for RAMBO 5, Sly had to subdue him.
Given that the initial rumors of Rambo 5 involved him helping a special forces team hunt down some sort of genetically enhanced human/werewolf this seems like more of a story that Rambo might fit in. I’m all for crazy were-beast things, but I honestly can’t see the franchise making an almost Sci-Fi liked jump like that.
I’m just surprised that Sylvester Stallone has managed to prolong his career this long. With the success of the most recent Rocky and Rambo installments, and the hugely successful action star fest known as the Expendables, Stallone doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast. Expendables 2 is right down the road and it looks just as promising as the first. What’s everyone else thinking about another Rambo? Has that franchise run it’s course? Truthfully I’m ready for a return of sorts to the feel of First Blood, and I can’t think of a better way for them to end the franchise than with the idea they have right now. Sound off below with your comments!
This is the latest of a whole series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific, we used Excel.
For this topic, in addition to my list, I asked 13 members of my staff to give me a list of their “Top 10 Action Movies of the 1980s”. The action movies of the 80s, more than any other decade or genre, have an identity. Big muscles, big explosions, and witty one-liners. There are even movies that came out in other decades that you could consider 80s Action. Stuff like Point Break (1991), Cop Out (2010), and The Expendables (2010). Though we’re only counting stuff actually from the 1980s, you get the idea. Now, Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course owned the decade, but it wasn’t just them kicking ass back in the day, but several other action stars will pop up on this list as well.
Anyhow, as for the results: From the 13 people asked to make a Top Ten list, plus my own Top 10, it resulted in 43 different movies being named. I’ve tallied up the points, and I now give you the Top 25 of them…
25. Highlander (1986)
24. The Protector (1985)
23. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade (1989) 22. Escape from New York (1981)
21. Above the Law (1988)
20. Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) 19. No Holds Barred (1989)
18. The Untouchables (1987)
17. The Running Man (1987)
16. Bloodsport (1988)
15. Rocky IV (1985)
14. Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981)
13. Big Trouble in Little China (1986) 12. Cobra (1986) 11. Roadhouse (1989)
And the TOP 10….
*Something new this time around is the AFI Box Office, which is ‘Adjusted for Inflation’…
10. Tango and Cash
Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash are narcotics detectives who, while both being extremely successful, can’t stand each other. Crime Lord Yves Perret, furious at the loss of income that Tango and Cash have caused him, frames the two for murder. Caught with the murder weapon on the scene of the crime, the two have alibi. Thrown into prison with most of the criminals they helped convict, it appears that they are going to have to trust each other if they are to clear their names and catch the evil Perret.
This movie so full of one-liners and unnecessary violence it amazing Schwarzenegger isn’t in it.
This one is where some debate came in, mostly from Rev Kaiser who argued this movie was more Sci-Fi than Action, but to me there are just too many great Action elements present to leave this off the list. That, combined with Kaiser’s main motivation for his argument being he wanted Roadhouse in the Top Ten, he was outvoted. Aliens is so much more than just Sci-Fi, as Alien delivered us one of the greatest horror/thrillers ever, here we were given some of the most heart-pounding action scenes ever filmed.
Best Quote: “We’d better get back, ’cause it’ll be dark soon, and they mostly come at night… mostly.”
Trivia: The Alien nest set was kept intact after filming. It was later used as the Axis Chemicals set forBatman. When the crew of Batmanfirst entered the set, they found most of the Alien nest still intact.
‘New Detroit’, a hell hole spawned by the predicted progression seen in the 1980s real Detroit. It was only logical in the late 80s to assume Detroit would get worse, and so it made sense that one day they would look for an answer to crime though technology. Hence Robocop. The fact that Officer Murphy is killed and then resurrected in a Jesus like fashion to right the wrongs of the city, is only made sweeter by the fact that his killer was Red Foreman. This is a story about corruption at the highest levels and an underdog desire to do whats right and fix a once great city. And the fight was so bloody and violent, this marks the first time ever that a movie was rated X for violence. Oh how I miss the 80s, I‘d but that for a dollar!
US Release: July 17, 1987 Director: Paul Verhoeven Notable Cast: Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Leeza Gibbons, and Ray Wise. Oscar Wins/Nominations 1/3 (Sound Effects Editing) US Box Office: $53,424,681 (AFI: $108,762,266)
Best Quote: “Bitches, leave.”
Triva: The repeated line ‘I’d buy that for a dollar!’ comes from Cyril M. Kornbluth‘s short story ‘The Marching Morons’, which presents a similarly cynical view of an over-commercialized future that’s desensitized to violence and war. A radio game show in that short story uses the line ‘I’d buy that for a quarter.’ as its signature phrase.
7. First Blood
In a departure from the source material, which saw John Rambo ultimately killed in the end of the book, this ended up being the franchise that saved Stallone’s career. And the funny part is, after shooting he hated the movie so much he tried to stop its release. This movie turned into a direct message about the treatment of soldiers returning from Viet Nam and say what you want about Stallone’s acting ability, but the end scene in which we see Rambo break down and cry in front of Col. Troutman is both powerful and moving. That, combined with one man, manhandling an entire police department made for the birth of a pop-culture icon. “Rambo” is now synonymous with ‘Badass”.
TONI X: “I’ll be the first to admit that Die Hard is a better movie, hell, it’s the greatest action movie of all time – But Commando is the 80’s. It has a fantastic soundtrack that is all about the decade, slick cars, slick scumbags in slick clothes, a pre – Who’s the Boss? Alyssa Milano and most importantly – It has Schwarzenegger in it. No movie can be the definitive ’80’s Action Movie’ without Schwarzenegger. Not only this, but Schwarzenegger starts this movie by carrying a tree – for reals. They had to show this dude being such a beast in his first goddamn shot just so you know he means absolute business.
Commando also created the Schwarzenegger archetype, granted, there were other movies where Arnie showed superhuman feats of strength, but in those flicks he was playing either a macho fantasy warrior, a killer cyborg or Hercules himself. Commando implies he was just a human being who could rip a pipe out of a wall and impale Wez with it. This is the starting point for the now classic Arnold one liners and insane logic bending shootouts.
Not only that, but every great 80’s action movie trope is here-the pointless nudity just for the sake of it, the hardass military brass trying to recruit Arnold, the country of Val Verde, a palatial mansion where all hell breaks loose and Bill Paxton – Straight Up 80’s.
But the most significant reason that Commando trumps Die Hard as an 80’s action movie is this. Die Hard is actually an adaptation of a novel called “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Roderick Thorp, Hollywood initially adapted the novel into a screenplay as a sequel to Commando. If it wasn’t for Schwarzenegger turning down the role and retooling the script for Bruce Willis – Die Hard would have been Commando 2. Commando is not only the greatest 80’s action movie of all time, but it is responsible for the greatest Action Movie of any decade. That’s why it’s number one in my book.”
Best Quote: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last? I lied.”
Trivia: Arius (Dan Hedaya) is said to be a deposed dictator from the country of Val Verde. Val Verde was a fictionalized South/Central American country used by Hollywood from the 1980s to early 1990s to depict a Spanish-speaking country similar to Cuba or Nicaragua without encountering diplomatic problems. It is also referenced in the films Predator, Die Hard 2, and the made for TV movie Deadly Enemies (Pilot).
5. The Terminator
Arnold was already known in some circles. Multiple winner of the ‘Mr. Universe‘ competition 4 times, and he had just stared twice as ‘Conan the Barbarian’, but it wasn’t until he played a near unstoppable killing machine in 1984 that he became a household name. The movie itself changed the genre forever, and kick started the career of James Cameron. The mythology sprouted from this movie led to 3 sequels, a TV show, and countless comic books and parodies. The Terminator is sent back in time to assassinate the mother of the still unborn leader of the future’s human resistance. That’s badass. This was a bad day to have middle name starting with the letter ‘A’…
US Release: October 26, 1984 Director: James Cameron Notable Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Dick Miller, Bill Paxton, and Brian Thompson. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0 US Box Office: $38,371,200 (AFI: $90,903,200)
Best Quote: “Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Triva: O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator, but the producers feared he was “too nice” to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. In 1990, (years, ironically, before Simpson’s first trial) Dark Horse Comics printed issues using his likeness.
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones is one of the greatest action characters of all time, and Raidersof the Lost Ark was fresh and exciting, and it achieved that by looking to the past for inspiration. George Lucas wrote this movie based of the old serials he would watch as a kid. Constant action throughout, from fleeing booby traps to fighting Nazis to poisonous snakes and ancient desert prisons, Dr. Jones time and again beats the odds and achieves the impossible. And unlike most of the movies on this list, this was actually marketed to the whole family, so I think people in their late 20s and into their 30s have a special nostalgia attached to these movies having grown up on them. It’s as good as an action movie can be without gratuitous boobs and swearing. US Release: June 12, 1981 Director: Steven Spielberg Notable Cast:Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, and Alfred Molina. Oscar Wins/Nominations: 5/9 (Art Direction, Visual Effects, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing) US Box Office: $242,374,454 (AFI: $693,993,041)
Best Quote: “The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste in entire regions. An Army that carries the Ark before it… is invincible.”
Triva: Renowned British wrestler Pat Roach gets killed twice in this film – once as a giant Sherpa left in the burning Nepalese bar and once as the German mechanic chewed up by the plane’s propeller.
3. Lethal Weapon
The pinnacle of Buddy Cop movies, this is the king of mismatched partners at the start – the suicidal young hot-shot cop, paired with old crotchety about-to-retire veteran. This is the movie that created the clichés we now recognize in almost every cop movie released in the last 20 years. Riggs and Murtaugh investigate the apparent suicide of a friend’s daughter, and end up getting sucked in for more than they expected. The whole case culminates in a Christmas season street brawl between Riggs and Mr. Joshua (Busey) in a hydrant downpour out in front of Murtaugh’s house. The movie would spawn 3 more sequels and prove to make Mel Gibson one of Hollywood’s biggest stars over the next 15 or so years. US Release: March 6, 1987 Director: Richard Donner Notable Cast: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitch Ryan, Grand L. Bush, and Al Leong Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/1 (Nom. – Best Sound) US Box Office: $65,207,127 (AFI: $132,749,036)
Best Quote: “Well, I’ll tell you what. You make it through tomorrow without killing anybody, especially me, or yourself, then I’ll start trusting you.”
Triva: Film’s soundtrack includes Elvis Presley song I’ll Be Home for Christmas. Darlene Love, who plays Murtaugh’s wife, was background dancer in Elvis’ production Elvis.
After The Terminator made him a star, and Commando created his archetype, then it was Predator that made him an icon. The story of an elite group of commandos that are sent into the jungle on a rescue mission, only to soon discover they were sent there under false pretenses and find themselves under attack by an unseen assailant. It is here, even more so than in Commando, that we see Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fight of his life. This movie is all about survival and it was a shocking experience in ’87 to see something hunting Arnold, and not the other way around. From the gratuitous bicep closeups to the frequent use of mini-guns, this is about as “Guy Movie” as it gets.
Triva: Shane Black, who plays ‘Hawkins’, is far more famous for his screenwriting than his acting. His writing credits include stuff like The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and our #3 on this list – Lethal Weapon.
1. Die Hard
This is, sure-fire, without debate, the single greatest action movie of all time. Due on to the fact that this came out in 1988 and not 1990 that Predator misses out on topping our list. The ultimate story of the wrong time – wrong place, this time it was the right guy. A seemingly average cop from New York, without the muscles and armory of Schwarzenegger and Stallone (both of whom are referenced in the movie) John McClane must save his wife and her co-workers from a group of terrorists, and he has to do it barefoot.
John McClane has become the standard for actions stars since, and this is the movie that ushered in the beginning of “90s Action”. After this, even in Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies, it was no longer about shirtless bodybuilders cutting down trees with bullets. This was a cop, with kids and marital problems and he was forced to handle a situation. He wasn’t called in because he was the best (IE: Predator, Rambo II, ect…), he just happened to be there.
Now with the announcement of a 5th Die Hard movie coming, the franchise is still relevant over 20 years later. This movie made Bruce Willis. But who doesn’t get enough credit is Alan Rickman. A hero is often times measured by the strength and quality of his villain, this is maybe what hurts Commando’s legacy. This was Rickman’s film debut, and he delivered one of cinema’s all time great villains. It was Hans Gruber than made John McClane great, and that is what spawned the sequels.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/4 (Nom. – Film Editing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, Sound) US Box Office: $83,008,852 (AFI: $160,766,536)
Best Quote: “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf–ker. “
Triva: Bruce Willis was also shooting Moonlightingconcurrently which accounts for why nearly all of McClane’s scenes take place at night. Willis would shoot his TV series during the day and then come to the Fox lot in the evening to work on this film.
So the 9th episode of Camelot focuses on 2 major things: 1. Morgan’s capture and impersonation of Igraine 2. The Arthur/Guinevere/Leontes Love Triangle
So first, as we saw in Episode 8, Igraine has escaped Castle Pendragon and made her way back to Camelot only to be confronted by…herself. That’s where we pick up in 9. Igraine thinking herself crazy retreats to her room to find Merlin still in her bed from his night with her Morgan. She blubbers coherently enough that Merlin figures out what has happened and they almost immediately set out for Pendragon to confront Morgan. Alone and unarmed. Again. For the extreme badass that Merlin is supposed to be, he sure doesn’t show it much…
As Merlina and Igraine are preparing to leave, Leontes confronts Guinevere about her relationship with the King. She initially denys it, but quickly folds like a the cheap thin metal they used on my new grill…
While all the melodrama is going on in Camelot, Bardon Pass, the main trade post of the kingdom is under attack and Arthur’s guards there are killed. So as Merlin and Igraine head to Pendragon, Arthur, Leontes, and the others head to the Pass.
By this time Morgan is back at her own Castle and it’s clear that the attack on the Pass is of her doing, and lead by her peeping Tom from a few weeks back. As she arrives she is met by the mysterious Nun, whose motivations to this point are still completely shrouded, and the two discuss Igraine’s escape and how no one will believe the weak-minded Queen.
As her men continue attacks all over the lands, more and more villagers flock to Morgan for the protection Arthur isn’t providing. She goes on the convince the stupid frightened people that Arthur is being mislead by Merlin and that he’s not to blame for the troubles of the land, begging that they put their faith in her.
Now, when Merlin and Igraine show up to confront her, the deck is already staked against her. The many people seeking refuge within the castle walls see Merlin as a liar, and are convinced of Morgan’s innocence.
Merlin enters quite boisterously and makes grader claims that many in the crowd do not understand. Morgan emerges from within Castle Pendragon’s walls with a smirk on her face that only further proves this too is part of her plan.
Merlin and Igraine are quickly branded as traitorous and bat-shit crazy. Respectively. They are then taken into custody as Morgan announces plans to March them back to Camelot and reunite with her brother. Except what no one knows it that she have already given her men orders to kill Arthur in the Battle at Bardon Pass. Thus ensuring the crown will fall upon her head in his demise. Pretty clever.
Merlin has legitimate questions as to the endgame played by the Nun, but they aren’t questions we’ll yet have answered. This is about the time the stupidity of the writing once again takes grasp. They’re need to constantly inject Guinevere into every situation has become bothersome. So when she came galloping into the battle to bring Leontes his bible, I was hoping she’d catch an arrow…
Of cousre she doesn’t get shot, but she does fall off of her horse, causing Leontes and Arthur to play a quick round of “Who can get Shot Quickest” as they rush out in a hail of falling arrows to save her. Unfortunately, Morgan’s men can’t shoot any better than the Vietnamese in Rambo II, so unbelievably, no one gets hit here.
This does once again prove though how stupid Arthur is. If he dies, all is lost. Guy really doesn’t deserve to be King at this point…
Ol’ Arttie decides now would be a good time to tell the troops how he betrayed his Champion and that’s he’s basically a dick and all. His brother Kay disowns him and then, as the full blown battle begins, is promptly shot with an arrow. Not however before Morgan’s troops shoot the only Black knight, dudes were totally racist…
Arthur’s men however are well trained enough to push back the attacking horde and hold their ground. This leads to Arthur’s next stupid selfless act – he orders that everyone retreat out the back of the pass, unseen by the enemy, to get help for Kay and Gwen, since she bumped her head and all. Arthur will stay at the pass, alone, and distract the opposing forces for as long as he can. Then, everyone actually leaves. Really?
So Guinevere’s decision to jump into the battle is now gonna cost them the Bardon Pass. Hey, G, thanks for stopping by!
So this episode was mostly setup for the impending 10th episode and season finale. I give it a 3 of 5.