Sylvester Stallone returns as Rambo -- Another of the actor?s 80s roles is being resuscitated

By Mandi Bierly
July 28, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

If watching the Rocky Balboa trailer has you asking how long until Sylvester Stallone resurrects John Rambo — that monosyllabic ex-Green Beret last seen in 1988 shouting profanity at an approaching Soviet army in Afghanistan — you’re not alone.

Okay, you may be alone, but we’re going to tell you anyway. First announced in 2005, production on Rambo IV (final title to be determined) is finally expected to commence Oct. 1 in Thailand. But while America braces for Balboa‘s arrival on Dec. 22, Rambo has yet to land a domestic distributor. Why have studios had a tough time picturing the old guy back in battle? Maybe because the writer-director — that would be Mr. Stallone — couldn’t figure out which war he’d be waging.

”You know, it’s hard,” says the 60-year-old star. ”Politics have changed so much. Who do we fight? The Finns? You can’t do that. The Dutch? That’s not gonna work. Wooden shoes are not gonna look cool.” Stallone may be joking, but finding Rambo a fresh foe was actually a serious problem for the Nu Image/ Millennium Films production. After ruling out the Mideast, Africa, and Korea, the actor finally hit on a solution. ”I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and said, ‘What is the most critical man-doing-inhumanity-to-man situation right now in the world? Where is it?”’ The answer was Burma.

So, the script that emerged — a ”first draft” Stallone has written with Art Monterastelli (The Hunted) — finds Rambo living a monastic lifestyle in Bangkok and salvaging old PT boats and tanks for scrap metal. (”It’s like he’s stripping himself down,” says the actor, pensively. ”That old piece of military equipment.”) When a group of volunteers bringing supplies into Burma disappears, a relative of one of the missing missionaries begs Rambo to find them. He heads off with a team of young guns, a plot point required by the financiers, who wanted to hedge against Rambo’s possible mono-generational appeal.

”It might work,” Stallone says, laughing. And if not, we can’t wait for Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot 2: Granny’s Revenge.

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