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An Open Letter to Sylvester Stallone

Dear Mr. Stallone,

I am writing this letter to you to let you know that while I enjoyed Rambo, I did so with some reservations.

Firstly, I wish to compliment you. Some have argued that your character, John Rambo, is not a figure you can use to critique the world's issues, but you have proved, once again, that this is not true. Your new film has reached the heights of subtlety displayed in Rambo III, in which I, an impressionable youth at the time, learnt that the Afghanistan people were our friends and that Russians were our enemies and that white people had nothing to fear from the former, and everything from the latter. This was slightly confusing to me in the later years, as I thought that somehow America might be responsible for the creation of the Taliban, and I like to think that it was not these men that Rambo rode around on a horse and tossed the carcass of a dead animal through the goals in a strange version of soccer with.

And I must admit, I worried that such elegant political characterisation would be beyond you, some twenty odd years later, for this, the fourth Rambo film.

I worried, for example, at the brutal displays of violence that opened the film, and which included the hideous practice of soldiers seeding rice fields with landmines, and they gambling on which of their prisoners could make it to the end (or die first--I was never quite sure what they were gambling on). In the face of such brutality, I wondered what an elderly Rambo, hunting snakes and shooting fish with his bow, might do in this, especially as you began the film by building the violence in such an overt and dreadful way. Another might be impressed by this portrayal of the violence, for it is quite shocking and serves, in this bland world where film violence has become passe, to actually provide a sense of atrocity to what has happened. But that person is not me, no--frankly, I thought it too much, and wondered if it was possible that you could tone it down a bit for the DVD release and increase the 'action' scenes to make them beautiful and operatic so that I can show it to young children, just as I show them your previous films, and just as the people I overheard in the lobby of the cinema wished.

Of course, for tha fault, you redeemed yourself admirably in your portrayal of the Burmese military. Not since the evil Russian military in Rambo III have I seen a man who deserved to be gutted so well as the general to this army, who smoked his cigarettes, tortured men and women, and fucked little boys all through the night. Such insight into the political motivations of the area! Such even handed portrayals! If only Brian Dennehy had been Asian! That would have truly bought the film full circle for me, incidentally. Perhaps if you do a fifth film, this could be organised with Mr. Dennehy?

(I must admit, however, that I was a little disappointed by your portrayal of Christian aid workers as being misguided, and your arc for the self righteous in there was one that, while making me chuckle, felt as if it were playing only on the dark parts of my humour, and my admittedly cynical opinion of rich white people who go to poor countries to help men and women and children, so long as they read the bible.)

What I also enjoyed about Rambo was the characterisation. I had no problems believing that a cute, bible bashing blonde girl could motivate the cynical Rambo into picking up his bow and killing hundreds. Why, I myself have seen many men completely changed by a bible bashing cute girl (blonde or otherwise), but it did raise the point between me and my friend that we'd never seen Rambo get it on in his films. Since you are returning to your original films at the end of your career, is it not possible that you could mix John Rambo and the character you played in Italian Stallion together? I don't mean to harp on this, but I did feel as if you could have given us a bit of sex. The violence is all well and good, but the visceral nature of it does take away a certain level of enjoyment--such as with the previous Rambo film, in which men were killed with glowing arrows and Rambo burnt wounds with gun powder--and suggests to me that you were actually trying to make a film that was a lot more interesting that it ended. To combat this, you could include visceral sex.

Overall, however, I'd prefer if you stopped trying to make a slightly interesting film, if you could. I'm just not into that anymore. Sure, Rambo killed all the bad guys, and while he did this by being badder than all of them, I felt that you had not given yourself into the mayhem and violence in the good ol' way that I remember in Rambo III, which, yes, I know I keep returning to, but, fuck, man, wasn't that just an awesome film?

You also had witty lines in that.

Just a hint for Rambo V, okay?


B. Peek


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Feb. 26th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
"Why, I myself have seen many men completely changed by a bible bashing cute girl (blonde or otherwise)..."

Hey man, you've never actually seen me anything but changed by a bible bashing cute girl, I think? Ha.

I am actually a fan of the original novel (First Blood). Of course, it didn't leave much room for sequels.
Feb. 26th, 2008 01:09 am (UTC)
i've never read the book, but i know he dies in the end (which is somewhat more natural an end for the film, really)
Feb. 26th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)
More karma, for sure. So does the not entirely innocent police chief, I think... or Tibet, or whatever his name was, the military man?
Feb. 26th, 2008 01:21 am (UTC)
richard grenna's character?
Feb. 26th, 2008 01:30 am (UTC)
I couldn't say.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
Brian Dennehey.

Feb. 26th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC)
nah, man, it's without the third e
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
Richard Grenna is Richard Crenna.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
i was close, tho!
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:14 am (UTC)
Me, too...

So let's not get snarky about spelling, shall we?
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
lol. i thought that's what your first comment was about :)
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC)
No. My first post was merely supplying the name of the actor who played the cop.

Communication is difficult. There must be a disturbance in the force.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:22 am (UTC)
oh, fair enough then. sorry bout that. the force be with you.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)

Where you been? Long time no blog.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:30 am (UTC)
i've got some of those real life things that need dealing with, sadly, and on top of that, work is picking up and i wanna get the book done, or nearly done, by the end of march, so maybe a slow time here for a bit.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
Yeah, I got deadlines too. I'm trying to keep blogging, though, or else our blog will look even more like a suburb of youtube.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
yeah, i try to keep that from happening here, too. but maybe if i made my suburb the things that offend people in pakistan, traffic'd pick up?
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC)
well, maybe. Serious topics don't do so well with Americans is my problem. I'd like to talk more about writing, but people don't really respond on those occasions when I do. Maybe I should offer drug samples. :)
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
you should just talk about the writing anyhow. i do it on the blog here, and it doesn't usually get me much of a response--i figure it's just because people don't have much to offer in response to it, but people do read it.

drug samples would get you a whole new audience :)

Feb. 26th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Well, maybe I will.

A new audience, yes. And perhaps new large friends with weapons.

Good luck with la book, man.
Feb. 26th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
thanks, man. i'm basically laying out the last quarter now in a rough draft. i see daylight!

and in that daylight, something new.
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