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Soundtrack review: First blood (part II) (Jerry Goldsmith – 1985)

rambo2

“Rambo: First blood part II” is my favorite movie of the franchise. As is the case with Rocky, I am a sucker for a great revenge story and it doesn’t get more intense for Rambo than here. Add to that the betrayal and you have a winner. As I’ve said before I read the books first and I remember once I finished reading the second one I felt a motivation in me I hadn’t felt before. I imagined myself countless times since then in a situation where I am counted as down and out and I only have time to say a few more words and I just squeeze the mic tight and while everyone is waiting for me to say where I am or that I’ll be fine I just growl “Murdock…I’m coming after you” and the guy at the other end of the line just freezes. I also started looking into Buddhism, young as I was, after Rambo II. His determination and focus helped me study best for my high school admission.

I loved the story in the second movie…his connection with the Asian girl…all the suffering he went through (the image of him being lowered into that pool of leaches haunted me as a kid) and then the absolute revenge all made for a very exciting experience. Yes, I remember what kind of arrow heads he used and how the necklace he received from the girl looked. I watched this second movie every chance I got, no matter where I found myself. The memories are not only from when I was younger; for me and my friends even once we were more grown up and working already, this was a movie worth canceling any other plans. The joy of seeing it on TV is still as big today.

Jerry Goldsmith’s score is an evolution from the first one. We don’t get new themes, the old one still rules (and breaks your heart in “Stories” or “Ambush”) but the action music is different: more serious, more melodic, more tense. There is a distinctive sound in this score and I have to admit that first time I heard it in “Main titles” I thought my recording was broken. It sounds as if the record is scratched and the music includes some sort of static but that’s the way it’s supposed to sound.

There’s more suspense and darkness in “First blood part II”, there’s more determination in the music and you feel like you are side by side with Rambo in this one. Listen to “Escape from torture” and you will know what this score is about. The horns are there, the percussion is there and the heart is there. For such a fan of the story as I am, the score for the movie completes the experience and makes it even better. It is everything I could wish for.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 39 / 55

Album excellence: 70%

Highlights:

Main Title

Preparations

The Jump

The Snake

The Pirates

Stories

The Camp / Forced Entry

River Crash / The Gunboat

Betrayed

Bring Him Up / The Eyes

Escape From Torture

Ambush

Bowed Down

Pilot Over

Home Flight

Day By Day

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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