10 Best Action Scenes In The Rambo Movies, Ranked
John Rambo has put his super-soldier combat skills to work in multiple Rambo movies, and these are the best of the bunch.
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Sylvester Stallone started playing John Rambo in 1982’s First Blood, one of his best films, Since then, each sequel tackled the character in a different way, while setting up some of the most intense and memorable action scenes ever filmed. Though mocked for its lack of realism in the first few films, the fourth and fifth went straight for the jugular with shocking amounts of graphic violence.
Regardless, there are specific action scenes in the Rambo films that stand apart from the rest. Some are so famous that they’ve been parodied in films like Hot Shots: Part Deux, while others took their cues from shockingly realistic, and very violent films that are meant to showcase how terrible war truly is.
10 The Martial Arts Contest (Rambo III)
The third film found Rambo living in a monastery in Thailand where he participated in a series of underground fighting tournaments for prize money. It’s a way for him to exercise his combat skills and work out some of his trauma and stress, without having to kill anyone in the process.
It’s a memorable action scene in the franchise, because it shows a different side of Rambo – one that is more centered and focused. He still has his demons, but he has evolved to the point where he can control them, and behave like a normal human being.
9 Rambo Vs. The Mexican Cartel (Rambo: Last Blood)
The final scene of Last Blood is where most of the action takes place, though many still wonder if it’s something the film got right or wrong. It all occurs when Hugo Martinez and his cartel arrive at Rambo’s farm for some payback, unaware that he’s already prepared for a fight.
The fighting progresses into Rambo’s underground cave system where he uses an assortment of weapons and Vietcong traps to brutally kill off all of Hugo’s men, before stalking him and ripping his heart out. In contrast to the realism of 2008’s Rambo, this scene feels like it upped the violence quotient just for the sake, even if the battle itself was memorable.
8 The Helicopter Duel (Rambo: First Blood Part II)
In the final act of the second film, Rambo descends upon the Vietnamese military camp with a Soviet chopper loaded with high powered weapons and explosions. He lays waste to the entire camp and rescues its P.O.W. soldiers, which attracts the attention of the ruthless Podovsky, who pursues him in a hulking HIND gunship.
Outmatched, Rambo pretends to be dead by parking his chopper in a river bank. He takes advantage of Podovsky’s false sense of security by quickly ramming a missile launcher through the cockpit window, and blowing his gunship to ribbons. The scene ranks high as one of the most impractical and unrealistic, yet fun action scenes of any Rambo film.
7 The Compound Rescue (Rambo)
When the missionaries who enter Burma are captured by the dictatorial military forces stationed there, a team of mercenaries is tasked with going in to rescue them. Rambo ends up leading them to the site of the compound in the dead of night when the soldiers are caught off guard.
He and the team covertly enter the compound and begin killing anyone who stands in their way, before finally rescuing the captured missionaries. It’s a well shot scene that puts stealth at the forefront, but it’s notorious for having one of the most grisly death scenes in the Rambo franchise.
6 The Cave Fight (Rambo III)
In the final act of Rambo III, Colonel Trautman and several other prisoners are rescued by Rambo, who flee in a Soviet gunship. The don’t get very far before the chopper goes down, forcing them to hide out in a large cave system. The Soviets go on the pursuit and rappel down into the caves, where Rambo has the advantage.
The scene is memorable for its unique choice of environment. Not only is it lit brilliantly, but it makes sense for Rambo to have the upper hand in such a place. The scene ends with him duking it out with a particularly large Russian soldier, only to detonate him with a grenade.
5 Brawl On The Boat (Rambo: First Blood Part II)
After arriving in Vietnam, teaming up with Co and rescuing a P.O.W., Rambo commandeers a transport boat in order to locate and liberate a prison camp. He’s betrayed by the crew of the boat who are waiting for military forces to show up and take them into custody, but Rambo has none of it.
He starts a fight on the boat, killing the crew, which attracts the attention of a military patrol boat nearby. After it sprays the boat down with high caliber gunfire, Rambo grabs an RPG rocket launcher and blows it to smithereens, before dealing with a leftover crew member who tries to strangle him to death.
4 Hunting The Police (First Blood)
All John Rambo wanted was to go into town and get a bite to eat, but the corrupt Sheriff Teasle wasn’t having any of it. When he and his police triggered his PTSD, Rambo took flight. After establishing himself in the wilderness, he quickly turned the tables on the police who went out searching for him.
He incapacitated several of them painfully before holding a knife to Teasle’s throat as a demonstration of his ability to kill them all. Even so, Rambo refrained from spilling any blood. It remains one of the coolest action scenes in any Rambo film, and the defining moment that showed audiences just how dangerous Rambo could be.
3 The Jungle Hunt (Rambo: First Blood Part II)
After escaping imprisonment and torture at the hands of ruthless Soviet soldiers, Rambo escapes into the Vietnamese jungle with them in pursuit. It’s here that he shows them the true meaning of terror by dispatching them all in brutal fashion, one by one.
He picks off several soldiers with hit and run guerrilla tactics before going on the offensive in typical 1980s action movie fashion, culminating in the use of Rambo’s iconic torque compound bow with explosive-tipped arrows blowing up half the jungle, and one unlucky Vietnamese military officer. For many, this was the defining action scene of the 1980s-era Rambo flicks.
2 Rambo Vs. The SPDC (Rambo)
In the final act of Rambo, the mercenary team and the missionary escapees are tracked by the SPDC using dogs, which requires a change of plans. Rambo tries to lead them away by setting up an ambush, and giving the rest of the crew an opportunity to make it to the rendezvous point.
From there, he goes on the offensive in one of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of any Rambo film, ending with the disemboweling of the villainous Major Tint. The level of ultra-violence is on par with Saving Private Ryan, opting for a much more realistic and consequential battle that doesn’t glamorize the horrors of war. To that end, it’s one of the best and most riveting action scenes of the franchise.
1 Rambo Vs. Teasle (First Blood)
Pushed to the brink and left for dead, Rambo becomes so juiced up by the end of the first film that he decides to wage war on the small town presided over by Sheriff Teasle. After knocking out the main power and blowing up a gas station, Teasle’s forces rush to the site of the explosion, exactly as intended.
Meanwhile, Rambo confronts Teasle and prepares to kill him, only to be stopped by Colonel Trautman. This action scene is the most iconic in the franchise, as it doesn’t end in blood, but with a weeping Rambo coming apart at the seams in Trautman’s arms as he reveals to the audience what he has to endure, day after day. It’s one of many reasons why First Blood still holds up today.