Nothing is over: 40 years after First Blood, Rambo lives in Hope, British Columbia

In a famous scene from the 1982 film first bloodprotagonist John Rambo, played by Sylvester Stallone, finds himself surrounded by police and soldiers in the small town of Hope, Wash.

Rambo’s former commanding officer, Colonel Sam Trautman, tries to convince the troubled Vietnam War veteran to surrender before it’s too late.

« It’s over, Johnny. It’s over, » Trautman, played by Richard Crenna, told Rambo.

« Nothing is over! » Rambo shouts. « Nothing! »

Decades later, the love story between first blood and the town in British Columbia where it was filmed is definitely not over.

WATCH | Residents and visitors celebrate Rambo in Hope, BC

BC Town Celebrates Rambo Connection

The town of Hope, British Columbia served as the fictional setting for Rambo’s first film. First Blood was released 40 years ago this month, and the city is pulling out all the stops to mark the occasion. CBC’s Liam Britten was there.

Fans of the film are expected to flock to Hope, British Columbia, about 150 kilometers east of Vancouver, this weekend to honor the 40th anniversary of the film’s release.

Activities include a skateboarding competition, a Rambo-related art exhibit, and a three-hour walking tour of locations where the movie was filmed. A tank is expected to overturn a number of cars on the town’s main street on Sunday.

A store display with 'Good Luck Undies — Rambo' on it.
Rambo merchandise is big business in Hope, BC, which shows how much the town cherishes its connection to Stallone’s character. (Liam Britten/CBC)

Whereas first blood features standard action movie tropes – gunfights, gas station explosions – it also tackles more serious issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and the United States’ role in the Vietnam War.

The film, which became an international hit and spawned several sequels, has Canadian roots. It was directed by Canadian Ted Kotcheff and adapted from a novel by Canadian author David Morrell, which blasted Rambo’s most recent sequel — 2019 Rambo: Last Blood – calling it « a mess » and saying he was « embarrassed that my name was associated with it ».

Movie posters of Rambo First Blood on his 40th birthday.
The event in Hope, BC on October 7 saw screenings of First Blood on its 40th anniversary. (Liam Britten/CBC)

The essence of first blood was filmed in Hope, which became a point of pride for residents.

A large wooden statue of Rambo stands in the middle of town. Ryan Villiers, who sculpted the statue, is back for the anniversary to create another sculpture.

« Hope is Rambo’s culture, » he said. « It’s pretty crazy to see…the legacy lives on. »

Tracy Paynter with the Hope Visitor Center and co-organizer of the First Blood event estimates that approximately 15,000 people come to Hope each year due to first blood.

« It’s important not just to the people of Hope, but to fans around the world, » she said. « They’re the ones bringing this movie to life and they’re coming back to this town because they love the movie, they love this town. »

On the coast4:27Hope BC celebrates 40th anniversary of filming ‘Rambo: First Blood’ on location

It’s been 40 years since the world was introduced to battle-scarred Vietnamese veteran John Rambo when the movie First Blood was released. It was filmed in the Hope District, and no one from Hope will let you forget it. They’ve got a whole weekend of events planned, and CBC reporter Liam Britten takes that into account.

The film crews spent around $1 million locally to make the film, which was great for Hope’s economy at the time, as well as the BC film industry. Decades later, film productions generated $4.8 billion in direct spending for the province’s economy last year, according to the Vancouver Economic Commission.

« It was sort of the birthplace of Hollywood North, » Paynter said. « After first bloodthe rest just followed. »

Day 66:3937 years after John Rambo’s debut, First Blood is still big business in Hope, BC

Rambo: Last Blood by Sylvester Stallone hit theaters on Friday. Meanwhile, Hope, BC, the town where the first film in the series was filmed, is still at the First Blood restaurant.


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