SYLVESTER Stallone first hit it big with “Rocky” in 1976 which was such a blockbuster that it had “Rocky II, III, IV and V” as sequels, but it’s more of a sports drama. It’s not until “Rambo: First Blood” that Sly did a blockbuster action movie where the title character also became an icon like Rocky Balboa. It’s his first non-Rocky big hit and viewers just loved Rambo as a Vietnam veteran killing machine.
They made his first Rambo movie also a big hit that spawned sequels “Rambo II” & “III” where he became a one-man army in Afghanistan. The last “Rambo” flick was made in 2008. “Rocky” had other sequels and the character later surfaced as coach of the son of his opponent, Apollo Creed, in “Creed 1 and 2”.
Now, Rambo, who lives to kill, is resurrected once again in “Rambo: Last Blood”. We watched it in a mall theatre and there were very few of us viewers inside. Rambo's trademark shaggy long hair and sweat band are gone and you’d hear comments like “ang tanda na niya”. Of course, we want to say, what do you expect?
Everyone gets old. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jackie Chan look visibly old in the Chinese-Russian co-production “The Dragon Seal” which was shown simultaneously with “Rambo: Last Blood”. Sly is now 73 years old, Arnold is 72 and Jackie is 65. They’re no longer the young international action superstars that they were before, but they won’t give up that easily and just fade away into the sunset.
In “Last Blood”, John Rambo now lives a peaceful life in a huge horse ranch in Arizona. Living with him is a family friend, Maria (Adriana Barraza) and her granddaughter, Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal), who wants to reconnect with her long lost dad who she discovers is living in Mexico.
John and Maria warn her that her biological dad is a big asshole, but she’s hard-headed and won’t believe it. Without telling them, she drives to Mexico and eventually discovers for herself that everything they say about him is all true.
But she no longer gets the chance to return to America as she is kidnapped by a sex-trafficking crime lord who makes her one of their syndicate’s prostitutes. So what do you expect? Rambo then goes to Mexico to look for her and he gets badly beaten up by the syndicate’s henchmen, led by Hugo (Sergio Mencheta) and his war-freak brother Victor (Oscar Jaenada) who puts a nasty mark of an ugly scar on his face.
A journalist, Carmen (Paz Vega), whose sister was also kidnapped and killed by the syndicate, rescues him and helps nurse him back to health. As soon as he is up and about, he goes on a relentless rampage like what you’d expect for Rambo to do. He gets to locate where Gabrielle is and retrieve her while taking down brutally some extremely dangerous syndicate thugs. But she perishes from all the illegal drugs injected into her. He then kills Oscar, cuts off his head and throws it in the middle of the highway.
The plot is quite predictable. You know that, soon, it will be the turn of Hugo and the other bad guys to attack Rambo in his own farm and he surely prepares very carefully for his showdown with them, with his farm and its tunnels full of traps that impale the intruders in various parts of their bodies. The climax will satisfy all viewers who thirst for and enjoy ruthless violence performed on bad guys. This is a generic, old school action film without the now usual computer generated action scenes.
The body count is very high and will undoubtedly satisfy the blood lust of moviegoers who sadistically love brutality and blood baths on screen. Sly delivers his trademark bumbled lines about violence and regret, but you don’t really go to a movie like “Rambo” for that. Director Adrian Grunberg does what is expected of him, making sure his work is serviceable and that viewers always know that the bad guys who crossed Rambo are truly dead. Rambo is a real badass, no doubt about it, but somehow, we miss his younger version who moves with such confident but violent grace. Will “Last Blood” really be the last one in the franchise? We doubt it.