Instep Today

One-Man Show

By Omair Alavi
Thu, 10, 19

A look back at some of the other Rambos, who may have lost the battle but managed to win the war, alone

One man can make a difference, but did you know that there are many Hollywood men who have made the difference by either avenging or rescuing a loved one. I am not talking about Rambo: Last Blood because, in a world full of ‘Rambos’, there have been others as well – some preceding him, others succeeding him. Let’s take a look at some of the other ‘Rambos,’ who may have lost the battle but managed to win the war, alone.

Death Wish – 1974 (Before there was Rambo)

Charles Bronson was perhaps the only actor in the ’60s and the ’70s who would have fit the bill of a vigilante. That is why he featured in director Michael Winner’s Death Wish that was loosely based on Brian Garfield’s novel of the same name.

In a world filled with criminals who operate at night, and murder his wife and sexually assault his daughter, Paul Kersey (Bronson) takes matters in his own hand and murders anyone he thinks is a mugger. The film was a smash hit because it came out at a time when mugging was on the rise in America and because it gave the people hope that someone out there is doing the right thing. Death Wish had as many as four sequels and a remake, with the fifth and final flick featuring Bronson releasing in 1994.

Commando – 1985 (When there was Rambo)

We all know how Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were in the ’80s. They were anything but friends, mainly because they were the two genuine action-stars of the decade. At a time when Rambo gave Stallone his identity, Schwarzenegger wanted to do something on similar lines. So, there was Commando where the director Mark L. Lester tried everything that Rambo had done, but with Arnold. Even the name John Matrix (Schwarzenegger) sounded similar to John Rambo. However, the plot had a twist – Matrix’s daughter is kidnapped and he has to rescue her before it is too late. And as we know, when Arnold is angry, he doesn’t count bodies even after the mission is complete.

Die Hard – 1988 (After there was Rambo)

You don’t mess with John McClane and get away with it. That’s the punch-line of every Die Hard film. Featuring Bruce Willis as an NYPD cop – mostly away from his jurisdiction – in the first two films, he has to be there to save his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). In the third, he is handpicked by the brother of the terrorist he killed in the first. In the fourth, he has to save his daughter and in the final one (so far), he has to help his son in Russia.

In all five films, he has killed terrorists for the greater good, with the action sequences getting imitated around the world. In short, he did a Rambo but with a badge and in the city.

Sudden Death – 1995 (Van Damme trying to be Rambo)

If Stallone and Schwarzenegger can do it, so can Jean-Claude Van Damme. The Belgian actor played a demoted firefighter Darren McCord who finds himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. His daughter, kidnapped during an Ice Hockey game, as is the Vice President of America and he uses his skills as a firefighter to rescue them both before terrorists decide to flee after blowing the arena. It was more on the lines of Die Hard than Rambo but with a twist that will make you forget all resemblance.

Taken – 2008 (Rambo of the new millennium)

Bryan Mills, a man who would ‘look for you, find you and kill you’ was the wrong person to mess with, even accidentally. They kidnapped his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace) in Taken by mistake but Mills (Liam Neeson) made no mistake in searching for everyone involved, and fulfilling his threat. He uses his experience as a retired CIA operative to ensure that nothing happens to his family in all three parts of Taken except for the last one where he is framed for the murder of one of his own. All three films did huge business worldwide and even spawned a short-lived TV series that dealt with incidents that made Bryan Mills the man who could ‘make the difference.’

– Omair Alavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at