Actor, writer, producer and director, Sylvester Stallone, is one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. He has created some of the most iconic action blockbuster roles that continue to delight audiences over 40 years since he first punched his way into cinemas across the world as Rocky Balboa.
To celebrate STUDIOCANAL’s release of all three of the 1980’s cult action Rambo films and the high-octane classic thriller Cliffhanger – restored in a never before seen quality thanks to extensive restoration and 4K scanning from the original film negatives – for the first time on 4K Ultra HD, we take a look back at Stallone’s career and those movie characters that have become a defining part of American film and pop culture.
JOHN RAMBO – First Blood (1982), Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Rambo III (1988), Rambo (2008), Rambo 5 (2019)
“Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe.”
The character of John Rambo was originally created by David Morrell for his 1972 novel ‘First Blood’. Stallone was initially unhappy with the film version of this poignant story of a returning Vietnam solider, whose mistreatment by the local sheriff and his deputies triggers a PTSD-fuelled rampage, but audiences and critics disagreed. Stallone got on board, co-wrote the screenplays and transformed the character into the muscle-bound, authority-baiting, one-man army that fought his way through four Rambo films destroying everyone who got in his way. The action, body count and Stallone’s muscles got bigger with each film and the famous Rambo look was imitated by fans all over the world.
These films had such an impact on audiences that President Ronald Reagan referenced the character in his aggressive approach to foreign policy and the word ‘Rambo’ even made it into the dictionary to describe an exceptionally tough, aggressive man.
READ MORE: Throwback 10: Rambo
ROCKY BALBOA – Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Rocky Balboa (2006), Creed (2015), Creed II (2018)
“If I can change, you can change. EVERYBODY CAN CHANGE!”
Sylvester Stallone’s first major film role was Rocky Balboa ‘The Italian Stallion’ in Rocky (1976). The character, created by Stallone himself, earned him Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for his performance as well as an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.
Rocky Balboa is a small-time boxer who gets the rare chance to fight a heavy-weight champion. Out of his depth, he nevertheless strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Stallone reprised the role in four direct sequels during the 70s and 80s and then again in Rocky Balboa, Creed and the upcoming Creed II. His performance in Creed received wide acclaim and he received his first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, along with his third Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
MARION COBRETTI – Cobra (1986)
“This is where the law ends and I start.”
From a Stallone-penned screenplay, Cobra featured Sly as a tough-on-crime street cop who must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult. The critics didn’t like it, but audiences did, and the film debuted at no.1 at the US box office, made a huge amount of cash and is now regarded as a cult classic.
READ MORE: Cop Land: A failed comeback for Sly Stallone
GABE WALKER – Cliffhanger (1993)
“Gravity’s a bitch, ain’t it?”
In the big-budget action adventure extravaganza Cliffhanger, Stallone (who again co-wrote the screenplay) starred as a mountain climber who becomes embroiled in a botched mid-air heist of a U.S. Treasury plane flying through the Rocky Mountains. Featuring some brilliantly overblown mid-air and gravity defying stunts Cliffhanger was another entertaining crowd pleaser that put Stallone’s career back on track following a few box office misfires.
BARNEY ROSS – The Expendables (2010), The Expendables 2 (2012), The Expendables 3 (2014)
“We ain’t dead.”
Riffing on his iconic action hero status Stallone created another crowd-pleasing hit series of films when most would be thinking about retirement and a bit of a rest.
Stallone, who also directed the first film, played a seasoned CIA operative who hires a team of mercenaries (Dolph Lundgren, his nemesis from Rocky IV, and a host of other legendary action stars) to eliminate a series of baddies.
Having spent the 80s battling it out at the box office with Arnold Schwarzenegger with the two action heroes going head to head with Rambo vs. The Terminator, Arnie joined Sly on screen, kicking butt in The Expendables 2 in 2012.
READ MORE: Escape Plan II – Film Review
The Rambo trilogy will released on Blu-ray, Digital Download and, for the first time ever, on 4K Ultra HD on 12 November. A limited SteelBook Edition (Blu-ray/UHD combi) is also be available exclusively from Zavvi.com.
Cliffhanger was also released on the same day on Blu-ray, Digital Download and for the first time on 4K Ultra HD.
Both the Rambo trilogy and Cliffhanger come with a plethora of special features, making all four films a must own for any discerning fan of the action genre.