80s Movies

The Making Of The Rambo Series Was Plagued With Absolute Insanity  

Jacob Shelton
131k views 20 items

Hey, bros! Are you ready to learn a thing or 18 about the homoerotic masterpiece that is the Rambo tetralogy? Of course you are! You either end up living for nothing or dying for some insane Rambo facts, right? If you grew up in the '80s or very early '90s, you spent at least one summer afternoon with a bandana tied around your head impersonating John Rambo while you fired an imaginary assault rifle at whatever country you were rescuing missionaries from.

Have you ever wondered about Rambo behind-the-scenes? The second and third installments in the franchise came out at a time of action movie excess, and the story behind those films is ripe with Sly Stallone diva facts that fit nicely alongside the muscle-bound bros glistening with oil who painted each frame of the franchise with their mighty tan brushes. Because of this, you might not remember that First Blood, America’s introduction to John Rambo, is a post-Vietnam deconstruction of small town America, in which political commentary meets gratuitous violence. The movie essentially jump-started the modern action era along with films like Death Wish and The Terminator.

But bros, let's be real about something here: the Rambo movie facts you’re about to read are fascinating, especially when it comes to the way Stallone had the foresight to keep his character alive in order to franchise his second golden-egg-laying, muscle-bound goose (the first being Rocky, obviously). Aside from stories of Stallone’s rise to power, these Rambo series facts will reveal which actor from the golden age of Hollywood almost derailed the series, and the interesting way that Stallone was paid for Rambo III.  

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Shots Were Fired On The Crew Of Rambo, And Stallone Called The Location 'A Hellhole Beyond Your Wildest Dreams'
Shots Were Fired On The Crew O... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Making Of The Rambo Series Was Plagued With Absolute Insanity
Photo:  Lionsgate

While filming Rambo in the Salween River region between Thailand and Myanmar, the crew was almost mowed down by machine gun fire. Stallone told USA Today

"We had shots fired above our heads. We were told we could get seriously hurt if we went on. I witnessed survivors with legs cut off and all kinds of land-mine injuries, maggot-infested wounds and ears cut off. We hear about Vietnam and Cambodia but the results of this conflict are more horrific. This is a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams."

Do you think they used a union crew?

Rambo Almost Had A Case Of Saturday Night Fever, As Producers Wanted To Cast John Travolta As A Techy Sidekick
Rambo Almost Had A Case Of Sat... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Making Of The Rambo Series Was Plagued With Absolute Insanity
Photo:  TriStar Pictures

Hold onto your butts: this fact is completely bonkers. For Rambo: First Blood Part II (yes, that's the movie's full title) producers thought Rambo should have a tech-oriented partner to help rescue POWs in Vietnam. Who did they think could play Stallone's tech bro? None other than John Travolta.

Stallone nixed the idea and had Rambo team up with a young local woman who (spoiler alert) died at the hands of her own people, but not before she gave ol' John some of those uncomfortable things bros call "feelings." It's unclear whether the original vision for the film had Travolta and Stallone trading faces. 

Stallone Claims Rambo III Turned Him Red, Literally
Stallone Claims Rambo III Turn... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Making Of The Rambo Series Was Plagued With Absolute Insanity
Photo:  TriStar

At a live Q&A in London, Stallone claimed the reason he's so red is extreme sunburn suffered while filming in Afghanistan: "III was an incredibly brutal movie. We were in the desert, and that’s why I’m so red these days – I got so burned I ain’t never coming back."

Is that how skin works? Or is that actually just a metaphor for communism? 

Do You Remember Rambo The Animated Series?
Do You Remember Rambo The Anim... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Making Of The Rambo Series Was Plagued With Absolute Insanity
Photo:  Carolco Pictures

Well, do you? And, if so, is it because you have a thing for hunky, muscle-bound airheads but He-Man was too blond for you?

Apparently, the first two Rambo movies (you know, the movies about the Vietnam vet who has such intense PTSD the only thing he can do is kill?) were so hot, producers decided they needed to figure out how to sell toys of this maniac. And what better way to sell toys than make an animated series?

The series, Rambo: The Force of Freedom (WOW!) debuted and ended in 1986, after producing 65 episodes, which feels like too many to have in one year. It's almost as if the producers were trying to bleed dry a property that had long run out of ideas. 

Here's a fun excerpt from a Reagan-era piece in the New York Times:

"'When you think that the President has mentioned him, the symbol of Rambo transcends the film,' said Amy Kastens, a spokesman for Anabasis Investments NV, producers of the television series. 'That symbol is a symbol of good. He's very patriotic. He stands for strength, he only does good, and he undoes evil.'

She added that the lead character of the children's shows will not be a Sylvester Stallone look-alike. 'It'll be a total departure from the film,' she said of the television show. 'There won't be any violence. He will have giant muscles and all of that. But he will be a guy who loves nature and won't look for trouble.'"