Rambo: First Blood Part II

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Rambo: First Blood Part II Movie Poster Image
Sly shoots up Vietnam in violent '80s sequel.
  • R
  • 1985
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Rambo mainly kills hostiles rather than defenseless noncombatants face to face, though he doesn't seem to mind strafing an entire village. While there are "good" Vietnamese shown (mainly Rambo's love interest), most are enemy slave drivers or pirates. Russians are torturing sadists. Elements of U.S. military portrayed as untrustworthy bureaucrats or mercenaries. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In Rambo's reality, Vietnam War was a war the U.S. military wasn't allowed to win, fought for an unappreciative populace and a government that deliberately turned its back on POWs. As iconic protagonist of one of the best-known movie franchises, Rambo displays larger-than-life heroism. Bombastic portrayal of battle scenes in which Rambo kills dozens of enemy soldiers with perfect aim every time while never getting shot tends to overwhelm the code of honor Rambo expresses in his strong and silent way in the less violent scenes. 

Violence

Graphic war violence throughout. Blood-spattered shooting. Characters pierced with arrows, blown up with bombs, torched with fire. Rocket launchers, machine guns, knives. A character tortured with electrocution, beating, hot metal, threatened eye gouging. Villages and war machines exploded. A U.S. military office sprayed with machine gun ammo. Massive explosions. 

Sex

Vietnamese sex worker is a distraction in the enemy camp. There's a towel-clad girl on a pirate ship; nothing explicitly shown. 

Language

Rambo says "f--k you" at a dramatic moment. "S--t," "bastard," "goddamn," "hell." 

Consumerism

Coca-Cola machine prominent in some scenes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Vietnamese pirates shown drunk on alcohol. Beer drinking. Cigar and cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rambo: First Blood Part II is a classic 1985 Vietnam War movie sequel in which Rambo must find a way to rescue POWs imprisoned and tortured by the Vietnamese army. Unsurprisingly, the movie has abundant violence and graphic killings using guns, rocket launchers, knives, and arrows, plus grueling scenes of torture. While the profanity is generally infrequent, Rambo does say "f--k you" during a climactic moment. Vietnamese pirates are shown drinking alcohol and drunk, and there's cigarette and cigar smoking. Kids who don't know much about Vietnam War history probably won't be enlightened here; all that's said is "we weren't allowed to win" as Rambo burns down Indo-Chinese villages and troop convoys. If anything, kids are much more likely to learn about the 1980s Cold War mindset of the United States. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybillybob9999 August 7, 2018
Parent of a 11, 13, and 13-year-old Written byValerie C. January 29, 2018
I don't like the torture and other violence
Teen, 17 years old Written byYoew January 5, 2019
Teen, 15 years old Written byBrianKerr July 9, 2018

Nothing like First Blood!

First Blood is the best for it's emotional anti war attitude, but First Blood Part II ignores that and throws Vietnam veteran John Rambo into action! But i... Continue reading

What's the story?

RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II finds Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), the muscleman combat-hardened Vietnam-supercommando from First Blood, brought out of prison to earn a possible presidential pardon. He has 36 hours to be air-dropped into communist Vietnam and seek evidence that American POWs are still being held captive. But his superiors -- yuppie white-collar types only interested in a cover-up -- don't expect him to succeed. When Rambo does find an active POW camp, the Americans abandon him to evil Russian and Viet Cong forces, and Rambo has to fight his way free -- shirtless, muscles gleaming like an oiled bodybuilder, amidst giant fireball explosions.

Is it any good?

This sequel to First Blood was a bigger, dumber, and more financially successful action blockbuster that opened on a then-record number of movie screens. Rambo: First Blood Part II is cartoonish, and in a B movie way. When the unstoppable Rambo (he just ignores bullets fired his way half the time) kills a whole Soviet patrol one by one, in a different camouflage disguise/gimmick one edit to the next, you remember Bugs Bunny doing stuff like that to Elmer Fudd or Daffy. Plus tie-ins with Vietnam War reality, and the melancholy legend maintained by conspiracy thinkers, that U.S. POWs still languished in enemy hands, seem tactless -- if you take it seriously. If you do scratch below the surface, you may find this overly simplistic message: The U.S. military -- in Rambo's case, one warrior -- could have won Vietnam, or any conflict, if "they" (who? Liberals? Jews? Jane Fonda? Freemasons and Illuminati?) hadn't sabotaged the effort.

"I just saw Rambo; next time I'll know what to do," famously said President Ronald Reagan, conferring a White House blessing on this action smash-hit. John Rambo, a tragic and mostly human-sized character in the first movie, got peddled aggressively as a Tarzan/Davey Crockett/G.I. Joe combo to 1980s kids, soon showing up in a weekly TV cartoon.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Rambo was so popular in the 1980s, when USSR occupation troops could still be found in Afghanistan, Poland, East Germany, and other Cold War hot spots. Do you think Rambo helped the image of Vietnam veterans (who were often portrayed by Hollywood as dysfunctional down-and-outs)? Why or why not?

  • Some critics called Stallone's action movies "fascist" in their glorification of pumped-up White patriots with big guns/fists putting the smackdown on foreign foes. What do you think now?

  • Families can also talk about whether the amount of violence in Rambo is fitting, given its subject matter. Are there times when violence needs to be graphic to get a filmmaker's point across? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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