Stallone on Cannes warpath as Rambo

Fifth in the franchise set to bow with restored copy of original

by Richard Mowe

Sylvester Stallone, Rambo V : Last Blood
Sylvester Stallone, Rambo V : Last Blood Photo: © Rouslan Ovtcharoff (Millennium Media Inc)
Living legend Sylvester Stallone is proof that even ageing, fading action stars are capable of comebacks. The Cannes Film Festival organisers have announced that Sly returns to the Croisette to promote Rambo V: Last Blood, which was shot a few months ago and is due for an autumn release.

The festival will show a restored version of the original 1982 action classic and preview the first images of the latest instalment in the franchise.

Stallone is bringing back his iconic character 37 years later. The sequel co-stars Paz Vega and Oscar Jaenda and is directed by Adrien Grunberg. The original was co-written by and starred Stallone as the troubled and misunderstood Vietnam veteran who must rely on his combat and survival senses against the abusive law enforcement of a small town.

Though superhero movies based on comic book characters may be Hollywood's latest fad, the 67-year-old Stallone has succeeded in reinventing himself as the face of yet another film franchise - The Expendables. The first two films have earned a healthy $600 million at the global box-office, and Expendables 3 matched that and was the last time Stallone appeared in Cannes with such co-stars as Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In an era where beefy young actors dominate the blockbuster marketplace playing latex-suited comic book superheroes, how does Stallone view his return to John Rambo, one of cinema’s most celebrated (or maligned) characters?

"I believe in giving audiences what they want," Stallone has said. "I've been in this business a long time and I've seen all kinds of genres come and go. But I think people still want to see men behaving heroically, seeing the good guys defeat the bad guys, and having some fun in the process. If you tell a good story and create interesting characters, the public will respond."

Stallone admits that his Rocky persona has stood him in good stead as a philosophy of life. He once talked to me about comebacks. “My experience in life and in Hollywood has taught me that you never give up. Never give up. Everyone knows the story where I was dead broke and I held out to star in Rocky even when they were ready to pay me $300,000 for the script and then walk away.

“But I wasn't going to do that. I never even saw it as a gamble. Almost every big name director ran away from the project when they saw I was attached to it. But there wasn't even a choice for me. I knew I had to play Rocky. And I love the way the public has kind of stayed with me all these years.”

Stallone will have the honour of a special screening in the Palais des Festivals on Friday, 24 May at 10.30pm. He will introduce on stage some exclusive images of Rambo V. After a video montage evoking his huge career, the world premiere restoration of Ted Kotcheff's Rambo - First Blood will be screened in 4K DCP in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.

The restored copy of Rambo has a French connection: It is backed by StudioCanal and the restoration work was completed by Eclair studios in Paris.

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