Long story short (before it gets very long), I went to a Rambo marathon at the Alamo Drafthouse! From First Blood to Last Blood (which was opening that weekend) and every drop of red in between. I’ve sorta seen them before, but not really, similar to what I’d been saying before going to the Mad Max marathon not too long ago. It was also a few days before my Daddy’s birthday, so it felt like an appropriate way to celebrate. These were his kinda movie afterall, and I knew he’d be watching with me.
I had two small budgetary crisis going in. One was I had no idea where I was gonna park. I was certain to hit the $40 daily max at the Bloc even with validation (I later found out I missed an email saying they got a special rate for marathoners). I got there super early and drove around and luckily found that most of the downtown lots in the surrounding block had 7 dollar parking since it was Sunday. Walking back by myself after midnight would be a later challenge.
The other crisis was food. I love the food at the Alamo Drafthouse, but I was not gonna be eating throughout five movies. Unless I just got an order of buffallo cauliflower for each film ,which was something I seriously considered. Either way, I was gonna hafta play it smart to stick to my budget.
Anyways, I got there, carrying my blanket backpack which had a hoodie, pajama pants, and a neck pillow inside. They may be 90 minute movies, but 5 of them in rapid succession meant I’d still be there about 8 hours. When I was walking in, I noticed the Shining twins in the hallway had Rambo headbands on. I found the same headband on my seat. Big regret of the day is that I didn’t put it on. I feel like it woulda gotten me even more in the Rambo spirit.
Server came by and I ordered my buffalo cauli. I overheard him telling the guy next to me that the bottomless popcorn would be good for refills throughout the entire marathon. Seriously consider getting in on that. There’s a preshow about cheesy Rambo ripoffs from around the world. Before long a dude in a really bad (as he admitted himself) Rambo wig comes up to intro the first film, First Blood. He gives us the rundown on parking (doh!) and says there will be only 5 minutes between films (which makes sense since concessions come to us here). Just as my cauli arrives, the film starts. Or rather, trailers start, which was unexpected. I guess they were required since Last Blood was gonna be showing. Anyways, First Blood begins
I’d forgotten that this didn’t have a war setting, and it took me a lil bit to get into it. Quick recap, Rambo is a Vietnam vet who is wandering around looking for purpose. His journey takes him through a small town that doesn’t appreciate drifters. A local sherriff finds a reason to arrest him, but their harsh treatment of him triggers his PTSD and he lashes out and escapes. Pretty soon, more and more cops are trying to find him in the woods and he’s taking them out left and right.
There was a point when we first reached the forest that I thought I might have made a mistake. The film feeling a little slow and light and my eyelids started to feel heavy. How was I gonna get thru 8 more hours of this? But thankfully, the action does pick up partway thru, and it’s pretty epic. Cheesy, but epic. But it’s all very straightforward action. Practical yes (woo!) but nothing too unexpected (boo!). Definitely more my Daddy’s type of action film than mine.
And then [spoilers] we get to the last few minutes. Sly has said maybe 20 words throughout the whole film up to this point, and he just breaks down. The full weight of the war and the aftermath and his psychological state is laid out in one of the most powerful monologues I’ve ever seen on film. Everything that has happened in the film thus far suddenly makes sense and it’s all been worth it. He’s not some random crazy tough guy. He’s got real demons he’s facing and real issues that no one talks about (especially back then). My respect for him skyrockets and I am so ready to cheer him on for the rest of the day.
The credits roll and I leave my seat recharged. Coming back from my bathroom break (PS – shout out to Alamo Drafthouse for gender neutral bathrooms), I see a dad and his kid (maybe 9 years old). They’re both wearing the Rambo headbands and they walk into my auditorium. My heart is so full and I’m really wishing that I had my Daddy watching these with me, even though I know on some level he is.
After going back and forth on what I was gonna order next (more cauli? Fried pickles? Salad?) I got with what I’d initially planned on and get fish and chips. Gotta get some protein in there somewhere. Announcer dude is in and now he’s got a red splat on his arm. “I took some damage during that one” he says. And we’re off
Rambo: First Blood II
Rambo is sent on a secret mission in Asia (was it Thailand?) to find some POW’s so they can be brought back. Lots of fighting happens. This is the beginnings of the wartime Rambo that I’m familiar with. He’s got the big guns and he’s running in the fields and he’s got guys in planes chasing him.
For me, this loses as best Rambo movie by a narrow margin to First Blood, mostly because First Blood has that monologue I was talking about. But this one continues that spirit of wronged yet faithful soldier, moreso than any of the other sequels. It’s also the most coherent and commercial action film out of all of them (and it’s one of the ones that does have a major female character, even if she’s killed off quickly).
The film was better than my fish and chips tho. Well I really liked the chips, but the fish was lacking. I ended up just pulling the thin bits of fish out of the overdone breading, which is quite difficult to do in the dark. Still, protein was a good choice and I’m feeling ready for the next movie. Energy level is good. Excitement is still mixed.
Intro guy comes back, and this time he’s got swag and trivia. It’s one of the few times that trivia hasn’t made me anxious because I know that I’m not gonna know any answers, so I’m not pressuring myself to get them right. He gives away a few tees and Rambo wigs. I notice the servers have also put on some of those Rambo wigs. I order my chocolate chip cookie milkshake for dessert, likely my last bit of food, which should keep me just in budget.
My first idea of Rambo came from playing Rambo III on my Sega Genesis. I think we rented it a couple times from Blockbuster. Anyways now Rambo is sent to the Middle East because reasons. The guns are bigger. The explosions are bigger. The bad guys are badder.
I commented on Stardust later that I thought 4 was the worst, and someone replied why not 3? I was really digging the cheese of 3. It was pure adrenaline, over the top action, like I love. However, I will say that I noticed a few times that my mind wandered for a bit (not sure during this movie, but it was more apparent here) and once I tuned back in, I really hadn’t missed anything. I could pick up exactly where I left off without having missed anything too important.
Also I feel my write up getting thinner and thinner, but it really was a kind of repetitive marathon. Not a complaint, just a comment. It didn’t feel like a rollercoaster, more of a long train ride.
Oh so I had the chocolate chip cookie shake, and it was okay. I like shakes that have chunks in them, which the cookie provided, but there wasn’t as much flavor. That didn’t stop me from drinking way too much of it. I felt so ridiculously full, I was questioning all my life decisions. Dude next to me got an unexpected refill of his popcorn and he offered me some, and as curious as I had been to try this stuff, I couldn’t possibly fathom putting anything else into my mouth. Although really I mostly passed on the popcorn by reflex because I was so surprised at the offer.
Just gonna come right out and say it. This is the one I fell asleep thru. But yeah, it was only one, so that’s pretty good. Other people chose this movie to take a dinner break elsewhere. I never saw the dad and kid again, although I did see another pair later with a slightly older child.
This movie felt slightly different from the others, but it was still lots of nonstop action. Even though I slept thru the middle, I didn’t really miss much plot wise. The action is what’s different though. This film is very graphic. There’s lots of blood, but it feels unsettling because a lot of it is good guy blood. I’m fine with excessive amounts of bad guy blood, but it makes me feel icky otherwise.
I later learned from IMDB trivia that when Sly was making this film, he specifically wanted to use the film to spotlight violence somewhere in the world that wasn’t being talked about. The chosen country was Burma. I think it really was effective in showcasing the genocide that was happening, which is why the graphic violence and why it hit so hard. It’s a different message from the invisible war going on in Rambo’s head in the earlier films (mirroring those of too many vets in our country) but it still rings true with the spirit of Rambo. He’s a soldier fighting for the underdog. I just don’t know how.
Side note: 4 also has the longest end credits of all of them. Usually when I got back, the intermission show was already playing, but this time I came back and found half the credits remaining. And then this had a longer intermission than the others because reasons. It was good to get a long stretch before the home stretch, but I was starting to worry about how much sleep I’d get by the time I got home.
Announcer guy came back, gave away some more swag and invited us to dig thru the box for any leftovers after the film. Thus was the beginning of the end.
Rambo: Last Blood
I’m actually gonna skip the overall commentary on this film and save it for my next post since it is a new release and all. So you’ll just hafta wait for that, but the short version is less Rambo, more Taken, and a little Saw.
Once the credits rolled, the rest of the crowd beat me to the box, so by the time I got there the wigs (which I didn’t want) and the tees (which I did want) were gone, and there were only extra bandannas. I paid my check and rounded my tip up to what I’d budgeted because announcer dude said we had the same servers for the entire marathon, which is an impressive marathon on its own. The Bloc was dead when I wandered out and across the street to where I’d parked. The lot was empty except for two other cars and a group of people drinking right by the entrance I had to go in thru. But I made it, and I got home in time to almost get six hours of sleep before work the next day.
Overall, pretty awesome getting a crash course in awesome action. I’m still more of a Die Hard girl for classic action, but it was a kickass way to spend a Sunday