John J. Rambo, was born on 26th April, 1947 in the back of a tractor in Devon, Arizona, to a Native American father (R. Rambo according to the last film) and an Italian American mother. However, in Rambo: First Blood Part II, Marshall Murdock states that Rambo is of Native American Italian/German descent. Rambo graduated from Rangeford High School, and then was drafted into the United States Army at the age of 17 on June 8, 1964. He was deployed to South Vietnam in September 1966. He returned to the U.S. in 1967 and began training in theSpecial Forces (Green Berets) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In late 1969, Rambo was re-deployed to Vietnam. In November 1971, he was captured by North Vietnamese forces near the Chinese-Vietnamese border and held at a POW camp, where he and other American POWs were repeatedly Tortured. Rambo escaped captivity in May 1972, but was then re-deployed. At some point in his military career he also apparently received training in flying helicopters.Upon his return to the U.S., Rambo discovered that many American civilians hated the returning soldiers from Vietnam, and he himself along with other returning soldiers were subject to humiliation and embarrassment by anti-war "hippies" who throw garbage at them, call them "baby killers", and exclude them from society. His experiences in Vietnam and back home resulted in an extreme case of post-traumatic stress disorder of a sort that does not seem to have ever manifested in reality. At the same time, inner questions of self identity and reflectiveness cause Rambo to lash out at society rather than handling difficult situations in a "civilized" manner. This is where First Blood picks up from.
The film First Blood takes place in December 1982, and begins with John Rambo (now a homeless, out-of-work drifter) searching for Delmore Barry, an old friend with whom he served in Vietnam. He goes to Barry's home but is told by his mother that he died from cancer due to Agent orange exposure. This means that Rambo is now the last surviving member of his Special Forces unit. He then travels to the small town of Hope, Washington, where he is quickly spotted by the town's overzealous and paranoid sheriff, Will Teasle, due to his long hair,military-style coat and all-around scruffy appearance. Teasle soon picks him up and drives him to the edge of town, while stressing his dislike of drifters and "trouble makers." Rambo begins heading back into town immediately after being dropped off, and Teasle then arrests him when Rambo did not comply and takes him to the local police station.
When searching Rambo, Teasle discovers a large survival knife on Rambo's belt. At the station, the Deputy Sheriff, Art Galt, harasses and beats Rambo, who begins having flashbacks to the war, where he was a POW. When officers attempt to dry shave him, Rambo finally snaps and fights his way out of the station, retrieving his knife. Outside, he hijacks a motorcycle from a man driving past and flees into the nearby mountains while being pursued by Teasle in his police car. Teasle crashes his car, and Rambo escapes. Teasle calls more officers and a helicopter in for assistance, while Rambo abandons his motorcycle and makes his way into the deep terrain on foot. While climbing down a steep cliff face, he is spotted by the search helicopter with Galt in the passenger's seat. The helicopter gets caught in a thermal draft, and has trouble maintaining control to give Galt a clear shot. Galt fires at him a number of times with his rifle, forcing Rambo to jump off the cliff-side, or be shot. Rambo breaks his fall by landing in a tree, but his arm is wounded in the process. Galt continues to fire upon the injured Rambo on the ground, and before Galt can shoot Rambo, he throws and hits the helicopter windshield with a rock he grabbed. The pilot loses control, swerving wildly, and Galt is thrown to his death. Rambo grabs Galt's gun, and runs behind some cover. Rambo opens up the butt of his knife, taking out a hook and thread. He then stitches up the wound on his arm, without anesthetic. Rambo comes out from cover, and confronts the men on the cliff. Rambo tells them, "There's one man dead! It was not my fault!". Teasle tells Rambo not to move or they will shoot. Rambo says he doesn't want anymore trouble, and begins to back away. The men open fire, and appear to graze Rambo in the face. Rambo then runs into the woods, Teasle and his deputies in pursuit. The men catch up to Rambo, and they release the tracking dogs.
Rambo shoots one with his last bullet, and kills the other with his bare hands. The men begin to flank out and pursue Rambo, but Rambo easily disables them using guerrilla tactics. Rambo severely wounds each man, but doesn't kill any of them. Rambo jumps out of the brush and grabs Teasle, putting his knife to his throat. He tells him "In town you're the law. Out here it's me." He tells Teasle to "Let it go" and give up his pursuit. Teasle doesn't, and the State Police and National Guard are called in to assist in the hunt. Colonel Sam Trautman soon arrives, taking credit for training Rambo. He is surprised to find any of the deputies still alive, and warns that it would be safer to let Rambo go and find him after the situation has calmed down. Teasle refuses to give in. Teasle asks Trautman to try and contact Rambo on the radio he took to get his position. Trautman gets Rambo to respond on the radio, calling out his Vietnam company. Rambo tells him that he didn't draw first blood, and that he can't turn himself in. Rambo is eventually cornered by the National Guard in a mine entrance. Teasle gets word they have cornered him, and gives an order not to fire. The inexperienced guardsmen ignore this order, and fire a rocket launcher at him. The blast collapsed the mine entrance, trapping him inside. The men assume Rambo is dead, and unknowable to his pursuers, Rambo has escaped into the tunnels of the mine.
Rambo eventually finds an old exit vent, near a main road where the troops are clearing out from. Rambo hijacks a passing Army truck and returns to town, crashing it into a gas station. He blocks the highway to anyone in pursuit, by igniting the spilled fuel. Now heavily armed with an M60, Rambo destroys transformers knocking out the power to the town. Rambo spots Teasle on the station roof, destroys a few other businesses and a gun shop before making his way to the police station. Rambo destroys the police station before making his way inside. Teasle spots Rambo and fires at him, but misses. Rambo shoots back at Teasle, injuring him. Teasle falls through the roof onto the floor. Rambo steps over him, prepared to kill him. Before Rambo can shoot Teasle, Colonel Trautman appears and tells him that there is no hope of escaping alive. Rambo, now surrounded by the police, rages about the horrors of war, and the difficulties he has faced adapting to civilian life. He weeps as he recounts a particularly gruesome story about witnessing his friend dying. He tells Trautman how they were in a bar, talking about his friend's Chevy and driving to Las Vegas in it, when a boy came in with a booby-trapped shoeshine box. Rambo went to buy a drink, when the box explodes, tearing his friend's lower body off. Rambo then turns himself in to Trautman, and is arrested.
After the incident in Washington, John Rambo was sent to a labour camp prison. At the beginning of Rambo: First Blood Part II (set in 1985), he was visited by Colonel Samuel Trautman who offered him the chance to be released from prison if he went to Vietnam to search for American POWs. He accepts and later meets with Marshall Murdock, an American bureaucrat who is in charge of the operation. He tells Rambo that he is only to photograph the POWs and not to rescue them, nor is he to engage any enemy soldiers. Rambo reluctantly agrees and he is then told that an agent of the American government will be there to receive him in the jungles of Vietnam.
He is then parachuted into the Vietnamese jungles. However, while parachuting, he loses some of his equipment and is left with only his knives, his bow, and arrows. On the ground, he met with Co Bau, a local woman working with the Americans. She takes him to a POW camp where he is able to rescue a captive. However, escaping requires him to kill a number of enemy soldiers with his bow. The trio then escape by boat but are attacked by a gunboat.
Rambo destroys the gunboat with a rocket-launcher. When Rambo calls for extraction, he is denied as Murdock fears what will happen to him and his party if the American public come to know about it. Meanwhile Co enters the camp under the disguise of a prostitute and comes to the hut in which Rambo is held captive. Rambo agrees to Podovsky's condition, but instead threatens Murdock on the radio that he is coming to get him, then escapes from captivity into a nearby jungle with Co's help. They hide in the jungle and Co aids Rambo's wounds. She then asks him if he will take her with him to America, he agrees and he kisses her. But they are attacked by some Vietnamese soldiers and Co is shot down. Enraged and distraught by Co's death, he kills them all (except for their commander, who escapes, but is later killed by one of Rambo's exploding arrows) and then buries Co's body in the jungle.
After the violence at the camp and on the river, Soviet and Vietnamese troops were scrambled to search and kill Rambo. While hunting for Rambo in a forest, Rambo kills a number of Soviet and Vietnamese soldiers using guerilla tatics. Vietnamese soldiers continue to chase Rambo into and through a village. In the village, there's a patch of tall grass where Rambo sets a booby-trap explosion that ignites a fire, burning many of the Vietnamese soldiers.
While still running away from the soldiers, a Soviet attack helicopter finds Rambo and drops a keg of explosives down on him. Rambo dives off a cliff into a river as the keg expodes. The Soviet helicopter pursues him, shooting bullets into the water. As the helicopter gets closer to the water while shooting bullets, Rambo jumps up from under the water, yanks the gunman into the water and climbs into the helicopter where he confronts the Soviet soldier who tortured him. As they wrestle inside the helicopter, the helicopter flys away and Rambo throws the Soviet soldier out of the helicopter. As Rambo approaches the pilot, the pilot also jumps out of the helicopter. Rambo gains control of the helicopter and flies it back to the POW camp to rescue the remaining POW's. He kills the remaining guards and picks up the captives in the chopper. Whilst flying to Thailand, another Soviet attack helicopter tails Rambo's. After its pilot loses Rambo's chopper in a haze of smoke from firing at it, it finds Rambo's vehicle smoking in a river. As the Russian chopper flies in low to investigate and finish off the bird once and for all, Rambo—who appears to be knocked unconscious—suddenly sits up, shoulder-firing rocket in hand, fires through the windshield and finishes off his would-be assailant once and for all.
Rambo then returns to the base and, using the M60E3 machine gun from the helicopter, destroys Murdock's command center. He then unsheathes his knife and threatens Murdock to find and rescue the remaining American POWs in Vietnam, snarling almost under his breath,"You know there's more men out there...you know where they are. Find 'em...or I'll find YOU." Trautman then comforts Rambo and tries to pacify him. Rambo, however, gets angry and says that he only wants his country to love its soldiers as much as its soldiers love it. Rambo then moves towards an unknown destination. Trautman asks him, "How will you live, John?" To this, Rambo replies, "Day by day." The film ends as Rambo walks off into the distance while his mentor watches him. Because of his actions of saving the POWs, Rambo is granted a presidential pardon and decides to live in Thailand.
The film opens with Colonel Samuel Trautman returning to Thailand to once again enlist the help of Rambo. After witnessing Rambo's victory in a stick-fighting match, Trautman visits the construction site of the temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistan. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan rebels, the Mujaheden, who are fighting the Soviets in the Soviet-Afghan War. Despite showing him photos of civilians suffering under Soviet military intervention, Rambo refuses and Trautman chooses to go on his own.
While in Afghanistan, Trautman's troops are ambushed by Soviet troops while passing through the mountains at night. Trautman is imprisoned in a Soviet base and coerced for information by Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Kourov. Rambo learns of the incident from embassy field officer Robert Griggs and convinces Griggs to take him through an unofficial operation, despite Grigg's warning that the U.S. government will deny any knowledge of his actions if killed or caught. Rambo immediately flies to Pakistan where he meets up with Mousa, a weapons supplier who agrees to take him to a village deep in the Afghan desert, close to the Soviet base where Trautman is kept. The Mujahideen in the village are already hesitant to help Rambo in the first place, but are definitely convinced not to help him when their village is attacked by Soviet helicopters after one of Mousa's shop assistants has informed the Soviets of Rambo's presence. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his attempts to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and results not only in Hamid getting shot in the leg, but also in Rambo himself getting splinters in the side. After escaping from the base, Rambo tends to Hamid's wounds and sends him and Mousa away to safety.
The next day, Rambo returns to the base once again, just in time to rescue Trautman from being tortured with a blow-torch. After rescuing several other prisoners, Rambo steals a helicopter and escapes from the base. However, the helicopter soon crashes and Rambo and Trautman are forced to continue on foot. After a confrontation in a cave, where Rambo and Trautman eliminate several Soviet Spetnaz commandos including Kourov, they are confronted by an entire army of Soviet tanks, headed by Zaysen. Just as they are about to be overwhelmed by the might of the Red Army, the Mujahideen warriors, together with Mousa and Hamid, ride onto the battlefield by the hundreds in a cavalry charge, overwhelming the Communists. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and John are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank (somehow doing the work of a four man crew all by himself, by also loading and firing the main gun) into the Russian's helicopter. Rambo survives the explosion and gets out of the tank. At the end of the battle Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to their Mujahideen friends and leave Afghanistan to go home.
The film opens with newsreels of the crisis in Burma. Burma (now known as Myanmar) is under the iron fist rule of Than Schwe and takes harsher stances against the nation's pro-democracy movement. Rebels are thrown into a mine-infested marsch and then gunned down by the Tadmadav, while the Burmese military officer Major Pa Tee Tint gazes grimly at the scene.
Former U.S. soldier John Rambo is still living in Thailand and resides in a village near the Burmese border. He makes a living capturing snakes and selling them in a nearby village. He also transports roamers in his boat. A missionary, Michael Burnett, asks Rambo to take him and his associates up the Salween River to Burma on a humanitarian mission to give aid to Karen Tribespeople. Rambo refuses but is convinced by Sarah Miller to take them.
The boat is stopped by Burmese pirates who demand Sarah, in exchange for passage. After negotiations fail, Rambo kills them all. Although his actions save the missionaries, it greatly disturbs them. Upon arrival, Michael says that they will travel overland and will not need Rambo's help for the return trip. The mission goes well until the Tatmadaw, led by Major Tint, attack. They kill most of the villagers and two missionaries and kidnap the rest, including Michael and Sarah. When the missionaries fail to come back after ten days, their pastor comes to ask Rambo's help in guiding hired mercenaries to the village where the missionaries were last seen.
Rambo agrees to transport the soldiers. At their destination, Rambo tries to accompany the mercenaries with a black-wrapped package in hand, but their leader, described as a former "old school" and egotistical S.A.S. trooper, refuses. After arriving at the destroyed village with their guide, Karen, they're forced to hide when some Tatmadaw arrive by truck and force their villager prisoners to run a gauntlet of hidden land mines thrown into the village rice paddies. The mercenary leader will not order a rescue as he is concerned that the missing Tatmadaw will put the rest on alert, however Rambo shows up with what is revealed to be his bow and shoots down the Tatmadaw. Rambo confronts the leader when the man threatens him, and with his arrow pointed at his eye socket, Rambo tells him and the others that soldiering is what they are and do, and they can either live for nothing or die for something; when Rambo stands down and tells the others to come, they follow without question with the leader in tow. They plan to save the hostages at a P.O.W. camp. Rambo helps Sarah and the others to escape. The Tatmadaw unit finds the hostages missing and organizes a massive manhunt. Everyone except for Rambo, Sarah, and the mercenary sniper "School Boy" is captured. Just as the group is to be executed, Rambo seizes a truck-mounted .50 Caliber Machine Gun and engages the Burmese army, giving an opening for School Boy to shoot down the Tatmadaw near the others and provide them also with weapons. Karen Rebells join the fight to help Rambo and the mercenaries win. Major Tint attempts to get away, but is personally disemboweled by Rambo.
Encouraged by Sarah's words, Rambo returns to the United States. A silent last scene shows him walking along a rural highway, past a horse farm and a rusted mailbox bearing the name "R. Rambo." When previously asked if he had any living family, Rambo said his father might still be alive. He then makes his way down the gravel driveway as the credits roll.