Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is released from prison to return to Vietnam to search for US prisoners of war. It sounds loopy, but in the mid-80s Americans were obsessed by this issue and there was a mini glut of films exploiting, erm, sorry exploring the issue.

Rambo finds the POWs, is captured, and is then tortured by some Russians led by Steven Berkoff who’s there to earn a quick few quid as a pantomime villain.

Quite why the Russians are in such close cahoots with the Vietnamese is never explained in the screenplay written by Stallone and James Cameron. I guess it’s enough to know it was the 80s and they were all Commies.

Rambo captures a helicopter, rescues the hostages from the POW camp and starts to fly them to safety pursued by Berkoff in a tasty looking MI-24 Hind helicopter.

An air battles ensues and Rambo’s chopper is badly damaged. Berkoff moves in for the kill but is momentarily distracted by the smoke coming from Rambo’s damaged helicopter.

Berkoff catches up with the wounded chopper, finding it seemingly downed on the ground with Rambo mortally wounded in the cockpit. Berkoff pauses choosing to savour his coming kill. Unfortunately Rambo is just playing possum, picks up a rocket launcher which he fires through the cockpit window of his chopper blowing up Berkoff’s Hind.

Artistic merit

Action movie hack George P Cosmatos (Cobra, Tombstone) isn’t known for subtlety and blows the shit out of the helicopter with unceremonious simplicity. There’s no fuss, flash or finagle, but you can’t complain about the size of the fireball the pyrotechnics team generate. It’s a rich towering inferno which scatters an impressive amount of wreckage widely about.

Exploding helicopter innovation

There really is none.

Do passengers survive?

An emphatic, no.


There’s plenty of helicopter usage throughout the film. You’re always quietly hoping one’s going to get blown up, so it’s good to see one of the film’s villain making his exit via a chopper fireball.


While the cold dead hand of George P Cosmatos is on the tiller of this film, ace cinematographer Jack Cardiff was, bizarrely, photographing this film. You might have hoped he would have been able to bring a little more imagination or sophistication to the exploding helicopter in the film.

Review by: Jafo

Still want more? Then check out the Exploding Helicopter podcast episode looking at the film. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Podomatic, YourListen, or Stitcher.


  1. Berkoff was a rent-a-psycho for the most of the 80's and then just disappeared. Hight time for a career resurection.

    For the love of God there has to be exploding helicopters in Rambo 3..will keep em pealed.

  2. There is definite exploding helicopter action in Rambo 3. The finale of the film involves Rambo ramming a helicopter gunship with a tank. I won't tell you what happens, but the helicopter doesn't win.