'Rambo Last Blood': How Sylvester Stallone revived his career by bringing back the action hero
With 'Rambo Last Blood' waiting to be released here's a look at how Sylvester Stallone has managed to stay relevant in the present by reinventing hit franchise 'Rambo' and 'Rocky'.
If anyone is well-versed in the art of reinventing, has aced staying relevant over the years and successfully at that, it has to be Sylvester Stallone. He has done all of this through one of the most famous Hollywood characters Rocky Balboa who has a fan following even today. The 'Rocky' franchise itself has been so successful that it has helped Stallone stay relevant and in the business for over 43 years despite having done a number of not so good movies throughout his career. This, along with 'Rambo Last Blood', which is a sequel to 2008 film 'Rambo' shows how Stallone has used his yesteryear hit franchises to forge a successful path in the present.
Let's take the Rocky franchise for example. The first 'Rocky' film released in 1976, and since then the franchise has seen a release of six films directly under the 'Rocky' series titled 'Rocky II', 'Rocky III', 'Rocky IV', 'Rocky V', and Rocky Balboa' which released between 1979 and 2006. The story of a small-time boxer whose daytime job is to collect for loan sharks and how he makes a name for himself despite the many hurdles that he faces connected with the audiences in a big way. While the 'rags to riches' format is something that viewers are accustomed to, the setup of a boxer and the portrayal of his struggles to emerge as a winner in the ring was extraordinarily portrayed by Stallone resulting in a great fan following over years. He brought the brand alive yet again through the 'Creed' series, the first film of which released in 2015 and 'Creed II' which released in 2018.
Stallone returned to play the role of Rocky Balboa in the spin-off series and this time he was sought out by his first-ever opponent in the ring - Apollo Creed's son - Adonis Johnson. Adonis wants to be trained by Rocky who is initially hesitant to train him but agrees. The film was reminiscent of the first volume of Rocky, in essence reminding us of Rocky's fight against Apollo through Adonis' fight against Conlan. Yet, it also gave an interesting spin to Rocky's character. While training Adonis, Rocky learns that he is suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and refuses to take treatment initially because it reminds him of his wife Adrian who lost in the battle against ovarian cancer.
Michael B Jordan's performance as Adonis and Stallone as Rocky brought the franchise back to the forefront and the success of the film even ensured that a follow-up was made. Recently, Stallone had also claimed that another film revolving around Rocky's life was in development and a prequel which will portray Rocky's early life is also expected to be produced soon. This ability to see potential in reviving a past project has become something that Stallone excels at and 'Rambo Last Blood', which is slated to release on September 20 in theaters is only further proof of that.
Speaking of 'Rambo Last Blood', the character played by Stallone is that of a soldier returning from the Vietnam War. The first film released in 1982 and was titled 'First Blood' followed by 'First Blood II' in 1985, 'Rambo III' in 1988 and Rambo in 2008. In 'Rambo Last Blood', John Rambo, is expected to rescue his niece who has been kidnapped by the Mexican cartel. John Rambo's character will remain the same and yet would have undergone changes that are befitting of the brand of movies that Stallone is known to be associated with - action movies.