No season of action cinema would be complete without an appearance from its most enduring star, Sylvester Stallone, an Oscar-nominated actor and screenwriter (for the original Rocky) who has braved the vicissitudes of fame, fashion and old age to return triumphant, most recently with The Expendables and its eagerly anticipated sequel. While Sly arguably defined the ’80s action hero with his controversial Rambo: First Blood Part II, it’s easy to neglect its winning predecessor, a gritty thriller that avoids the über-violence that defined the later Rambo movies in favour of intense psychological drama, punctuated by brutally effective action sequences.
Here, John Rambo is a recognisable human being, a disturbed Vietnam vet provoked into retaliation by the hasty actions of an overzealous small-town sheriff (Brian Dennehy) and his deputies. It’s a haunting tale, one that originally culminated in Rambo’s suicide. Stallone’s powerful performance alone suggests that it might be time to reappraise a true icon of cinema (Notes by Derek O’Connor.)
Showing as part of a Bang for your Buck: Action Movies 101 season throughout May.