Sylvester Stallone didn't think Rambo 4 would hit theaters

Published : 08 Nov 2022 06:53 PM

Despite the high of the revamped film Rocky Balboa, Stallone didn't think that the theaters would consider screening Rambo 4 due to its content.

Although never giving up was a prominent theme in the Rocky franchise, Sylvester Stallone once lost hope in Rambo and its chances of reaching theaters. The Rambo franchise was a pillar of Stallone's early career alongside the Rocky films. As much as those franchises have cemented themselves in the action film hall of fame, the success of Rambo was not always so apparent to the lead actor.

The Rambo franchise follows Stallone's John Rambo, a retired United States Army Special Forces member who fought in the Vietnam War. His experience in the war gives him unparalleled fighting skills. However, throughout the franchise, he works through the trauma that the fighting has left him. The fourth installment, titled Rambo, follows the titular character as he is tasked with saving a group of missionaries from Burma. Rambo struggles with this, for even though he has lived in peace for years after the appropriately titled Rambo III, he is forced to do what he does best: kill bad guys.

On the surface, this seems just another installment in the Rambo franchise. Rambo, however, did not shy away from the genocide happening in Burma at the time, as the film showed the killings of hundreds of innocent people. The violence was as much of a reason for Stallone wanting to make Rambo as it was for him thinking it would never reach the silver screen. Stallone tells The Hollywood Reporter that it was essential to show the horror of something like a civil war in the quote below:

One film I’m truly proud of – it’s the best action film I’ve ever done because it’s the most truthful – is Rambo IV, dealing with Burma, where they’ve had a civil war for 67 years. But I got excoriated because the movie’s so violent. And it is violent. It’s horrifying. It’s children being burnt alive. That’s what makes Civil War worse than anything. It’s your neighbor, all of a sudden, killing you. I was really happy with that film and I never thought it would ever reach the theater. I thought, “They’re never going to show this.”