"Rambo" Back on Duty
Wednesday June 1 8:47 PM ET
Rambo is coming out of hiding and looking for some fresh blood.
After a 17-year layoff, Sylvester Stallone is ready to reprise his role as everyone's favorite muscle-bound Green Beret for a fourth installment in the popular 1980s film franchise.
After protracted legal wrangling, the rights to Rambo were snapped up in 1997 by Miramax's genre division, Dimension Films. But a planned Rambo IV stalled. Now, with Miramax heads Harvey and Bob Weinstein exiting Disney, they have sold the sequel rights for the intrepid character to Nu Image/Millennium Films, and the project is finally moving forward.
In addition to breaking the old red bandanna out of mothballs, Stallone, 58, will write the screenplay.
"I've signed the deal and I have the old headband, machine gun and bow and arrow ready to go. I am looking forward to showing movie fans the real action hero again," Stallone said in a statement.
Stallone, who earned an Oscar nomination for writing the original Rocky and who has directed such flicks as Staying Alive and Rocky V, compared Rambo IV to such 1970's revenge classics as Straw Dogs and Deliverance.
The sequel opens with our brooding Vietnam vet finally settling down with a wife and child, while still working for the military. (Sadly, Richard Crenna, who costarred in the three previous installments as Rambo's longtime commander, Colonel Samuel Trautman, will be MIA from the new sequel, havingdied in 2003.)
Though he's "assimilated into the tapestry of America," workplace stress forces Rambo to leave the big city and move his family to the boonies. Their lives are upended however by white supremacists unhappy about a part-Navajo man moving into the area. When the racists take Rambo's 10-year-old daughter hostage, dad is forced back into action to rescue her.
According to Stallone, the new film will be similar in tone to the "character-driven" franchise-launching First Blood (1982), in which Rambo uses his battle-honed skills to get even with a small-town sheriff, as opposed to the more cartoonish action-packed sequels. Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) was the blockbuster film of the series, featuring Rambo returned to Vietnam to rescue fellow POWs; 1988's Rambo III found our hero battling the Soviet army with the help of Afghan guerrillas.
If Rambo is able to tap into moviegoers' rah-rah nationalist fervor that made him so popular during Reaganmania of the '80s, Nu Image boss Avi Lerner promises more first blood adventures.
"It's a franchise," Lerner says. "If number four works, then you have a number five."
Thatís not the only collaboration the company has with Stallone. Nu Image is also developing a Stallone script on the life of famed poet Edgar Allen Poe. Stallone also plans to direct the film. (Quoth the raven: "Yo!")
Stallone's recent stab at reality TV as cohost of NBC's The Contender wasn't successful, getting canceled after one lackluster season. He also has been working on a new Rocky installment, but that project hasn't managed to get off the drawing board. Now, he's hoping that revisiting Rambo will help resurrect his once mighty career. Rambo IV is slated to start lensing in Sofia, Bulgaria in January before moving on to locations in India and the U.S. A release is being targeted for either late 2006 or early 2007.