Why Sylvester Stallone Didn't Direct Rambo: Last Blood

Longtime Rambo star Sylvester Stallone explains to fans why he chose Adrian Grunberg to direct Rambo: Last Blood instead of directing himself.

Rambo Last Blood BW poster

When it came to appointing a director for the latest entry in the Rambo franchise, Rambo: Last Blood, it seemed that the obvious choice would be the star of the movie himself, Sylvester Stallone. However, Stallone passed on the position, and gave Adrian Grunberg the director's seat.

This move left fans scratching their heads, as Stallone did direct the last Rambo film, titled simply Rambo, to massive praise by audiences. The movie, which picked up 20 years after the events of Rambo III, found its titular hero trying to escape the ghosts of his past by living a simple life as a river boatman in Myanmar. However, he gets sucked into the mission of a group of mercenaries in helping to find a group of kidnapped missionary aid workers, to violent effect.

Related: Rambo: Last Blood Cast & Character Guide

Now, 10 years later, Rambo: Last Blood sees John Rambo taking on a more personal journey of revenge when his adopted niece, Gabrielle, is kidnapped by Mexican sex traffickers. So the question is, why would Stallone pass the torch to Grunberg, having done such a fine job directing himself, in the past? Screen Rant attended a press conference for Rambo: Last Blood, at which Stallone had the following to say:

Yeah, it was just a matter of time. And I think I was working on something else. But with Adrian [Grunberg], I saw what he did before, and I knew he'd be a good partner.

Sylvester Stallone in Rambo Last Blood

Stallone went on to explain that Grunberg is attuned to his method of revision, that the director understood what would work based on past Rambo movies, and what wouldn’t. Stallone was pleased with Grunberg’s efforts to keep the aesthetic of the film similar to that of the previous Rambo films. And he had nothing but praise for Grunberg’s work ethicStallone likened the experience to the time he himself had to take over as director for John Avildsen on Rocky II. He understood that he had to maintain the same tone and look as Avildsen had set for the first film.“I directed it kind of like John Avildsen. And it worked fine,” Stallone said.

As such, Stallone was pleased with the way Grunberg did his best to mimic the directing style set in the previous Rambo movies. What he didn’t want was a complete change in feel that could have been affected by some other incredibly talented but tonally different directors. “I wouldn't want all of a sudden [to] jump into some very dramatic change, like Darren Aronofsky," Stallone said. "He’s a great director, but that would have been a shock.”

So, there you have it, direct from the mouth of John Rambo himself. And while Rambo: Last Blood has received largely negative reviews thus far (not unlike 2008's Rambo), fans will be happy to find that the technical prowess of the director certainly captures the feel and aesthetic of previous Rambo entries.

More: John Rambo's Tragic Backstory (& How The Character Changed Over Time)

Key Release Dates
  • Rambo 5: Last Blood (2019) release date: Sep 20, 2019
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