By Michael Dellapi
I want to preface this piece by saying that I didn’t particularly like “Rambo,” and I was rather surprised that my feelings were like this. I have always been a supporter for the absurd popcorn flicks that were the action movies of the eighties. In the case of “Rambo: First Blood,” however, I found myself becoming increasingly bored. Whether most action movies are centered around gratuitous explosions and abysmal one-liners, “Rambo” felt surprisingly tame. Never in my lifetime did I ever expect a Stallone movie to be referenced as tame, but here we are. However, I found myself seeing an interesting parallel between the film and films of a completely different genre. Oddly enough, “Rambo” has a lot more in common with a typical monster movie than it does with films of its intended genre.
John Rambo rips apart a small town in Washington in the same way that Godzilla ravages entire city blocks in Japan. It is absolutely astounding to see one man leave so much devastation in his wake with such limited resources. Whereas some characters could be described as a ticking time bomb, Rambo is a natural disaster in camouflage and ripped jeans. It is here that “Rambo” most immediately diverges from typical action movies and enters the realm more closely akin to a monster movie. However, in order to better understand this concept we need to explore just why Rambo is so determined on laying waste to Hope, Washington.
In the case of most monster movies, an explosive tirade begins due to a combination of captivity and exploitation. This is no different in Rambo’s case. Rambo is immediately treated with hostility on behalf of the town’s police force. It is never exactly clear as to why the sheriff immediately despises Rambo so much, perhaps he’s just evil for the sake of the plot. Regardless, Rambo is incarcerated and subject to abuse by the prison staff whereupon he breaks free and brings destruction to wherever he goes. It immediately called to mind the situation of “King Kong” after first viewing.
The creature in the aforementioned film is imprisoned and likewise manipulated, thus filling it with pure unadulterated rage. Rambo’s course of action is practically identical, and more parallels can be drawn by the way in which Rambo’s oppressors react to his escape. They describe Rambo as having a level of strength unlike anything they’ve ever seen. His cunning is on par with the Predator, picking off victims one by one. It’s astounding just how well this seemingly by-the-numbers action movie can parallel a completely different genre of film. Where this film apparently fails in what stereotype, it shines in another.
Michael Dellapi is a Highlighter Staff Columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org