Thanks to the plethora of war movies set there almost everyone knows about the Vietnam war. They know how America tried to intervene in the spread of Communism and went to war with a country that had never lost a conflict with an invading force. Despite America being the superior war machine they couldn’t decisively defeat the Vietnamese and it was pressure from public outrage that ended it. You would have thought America would have learned from this and stayed away from Afghanistan, another country that has never been conquered. One movie that stands out from all those films is First Blood, it’s not set during the war but after, when a veteran comes how and gets harassed and abused by the people he thought he was fighting for. Rambo never actually killed anyone in the first film. Go back and check, he didn’t. Of course you wanted him to; that’s the great part about watching action films, you can delight in the slaughter of random people and not feel guilty. The only person who actually died was the cop who fell out of the helicopter. Rambo doesn’t die either, the number of sequels probably told you that. First blood didn’t start life as a film however, it was a novel written by David Morrell in which many people were killed and Rambo (spoiler alert) gets shot in the last chapter. With a shot-gun to the back of the head. This ending was changed in the movie as it was felt to be too depressing and dark. American audiences wanted an underdog story where if there is not triumph there is at least a moral victory. This doesn’t lessen the effect of the film and it was so successful that a sequel was made, the screenplay written by James Cameron and Stallone himself.

First Blood 2 is a dramatically different film and so this novelisation is too. This time Rambo is most definitely the hero. He’s not some crazy ex-soldier attacking the civilization that harasses him for coming back with long hair but the returning warrior back in town to mess up those pesky Viet Cong and their Soviet masters, save some poor POW’s and even stick it to the treacherous CIA. He even does it all with only a bow and arrow.
America wins again!

Hooray!

This does not really make stimulating reading but the main advantage this movie novelization has is that David Morell the writer of the original Fresh Blood was hired to adapt the novel. He has the ability to take this silly stuff and make it an enjoyable ride with enough side tracks into Zen philosophy, the design of modern bows and arrows and old episodes of MASH. Rambo remains the underdog and there is a lot of satisfaction in seeing him get back at the evil Vietnamese (boo! hiss!) who tortured him (what are the chances they’d be in the same place at the same time???) and beat up the CIA guy who you knew from the get go was up to no good. Morell’s hands were tied from the get go with Stallone and Cameron making it a black and white tale of Good (America) and Evil (Everyone else and the American Government). Gone are the moral lessons of the bleak existence soldier’s often face when returning him, no one wants another book like that. We just want to see a special forces nutcase kick some ass and save some of the forgotten soldiers of a distressing war most people would rather forget anyway. Rambo goes to the country that couldn’t be beaten by the American war machine and kicks’ its ass. Perhaps we need more movies like this these days every one is very upset about the involvement in the Iraq, Afghanistan conflict, and lets face it with Syria in the state its in it’s only a matter of time before someone gets involved. All the films that come out these days are either very down about the war: The Hurt Locker, Brothers or fucking fire fight nonsense where US soldiers fight alien invaders and giant robots. It’s either the showing you being a soldier is a state that will ruin you and leave you a soulless wreck or hands down the best fucking thing you or anyone can do until we learn how to breed dragons for wrestling. We should insist any impressionable youngster who watches Transformers and hurries to the recruiting agency has to sit through Johnny Got His Gun first.
I don’t know if David Morrell wrote the novelisation of First Blood 3 because that’s when Rambo goes to Afghanistan…

Um, hooray?
This book is for a flight. A short one. Just watch the movie.

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