Actor Sylvester Stallone has confirmed that his Rambo movies were never supposed to be a political statement. The character of Rambo made his big screen debut back in 1982 in First Blood, which was quickly followed by two sequels. After a 20-year hiatus, Stallone returned to the role in 2008’s Rambo and will release the franchise’s latest installment Rambo V: Last Blood later this year.
Since the franchise began, Rambo movies - which have seen the weary war veteran take on Vietnam, the Soviet Union and the corrupt Burmese military - have been embraced by right-wing thinkers thanks to their patriotic tone. Republican president Ronald Reagan even had a habit of referring to Rambo in his speeches.
But despite Rambo’s right-wing overtones, THR reports it was not Stallone’s intention to spread any kind of political message with his Rambo movies. Speaking at the packed-out Debussy Theatre in Cannes where he was in town promoting Rambo V: Last Blood to international buyers, Stallone stated:
I'm almost like a political atheist. [Rambo] was never supposed to be, by any means, a political statement. It became one. ... I don't think I'm smart enough. That's not my strength. I'm not a political animal. I never have been. I don't want to be. I'm just a storyteller. But, oh my God, once Reagan said, 'I saw Rambo, and he's a Republican!'
The same goes for Rocky, which alongside Rambo established Stallone as a household name in the 80s. Like Rambo, the patriotic imagery in Rocky - like the Rocky IV posters showing a sweaty and bruised Rocky Balboa with an American flag draped across his shoulders after metaphorically winning the Cold War - has seen it embraced by right-wingers. But like Rambo, any political stance supposedly advocated in Rocky is purely coincidental according to Stallone:
He's not a political animal. Boxers just use the flag of their nation. They're not saying, 'We're better than you.'
Stallone also told the audience that he wasn’t even the first choice to play Rambo, funnily enough, stating: "Nobody wanted me to do Rambo. I was the 11th choice.” Nevertheless, Stallone is still playing the iconic character almost 40 years later and Rambo V: Last Blood is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. At 72, however, the physical nature of the role of Rambo is taking its toll a tad more than it did back in the 80s: “They have to oil me in the morning. I squeak.” According to Stallone, that isn’t too much of an issue as the Rambo we meet in the fifth movie has become a lot “more cunning” and no longer depends on swinging around in jungles ambushing people as brutally as possible.
Set for a September release, Rambo V co-stars Sergio Peris-Mencheta (Snowfall, Life Itself) and Paz Vega (The OA). It was originally going to be a monster movie but was wisely changed so that Rambo comes up against a Mexican cartel rather than a monster. Although it’s a more realistic plot direction that’s in line with the rest of the Rambo franchise, it could well appeal to right-wingers once more given President Trump and his calls for a wall along the Mexican border.
- Rambo 5: Last Blood (2019) release date: Sep 20, 2019