It took almost four decades but the Rambo saga is finished - and with five films to get through, you might be wondering how to watch Rambo movies in order.
Perhaps Sylvester Stallone’s most iconic role (alongside Rocky Balboa), John Rambo began as a misunderstood victim of war before going on to become one of cinema's most reliable action stars - who regularly found himself returning to action.
Over the years, the films, all co-written by Stallone, pulled in almost one billion dollars - with the most successful in the pentalogy being Rambo: First Blood Part II.
Not content with just appearing on the silver screen, there was also a 65-episode television animated series depicting John Rambo and his adventures across the globe.
We won’t be including the cartoon here, as it is unfortunately unavailable anywhere in the UK, nor is it considered canon.
With all that said, there's plenty of explosions and jungle trekking ahead - so let’s get to the Rambo movies in chronological and release order!
How to watch Rambo movies in chronological order
Despite Rambo being a complicated man, watching the movies is resoundingly not - and the chronological order follows the order in which they were released, beginning with 1982’s First Blood and concluding with 2019’s appropriately named Rambo: Last Blood.
- First Blood – 1982
- Rambo: First Blood Part II – 1985
- Rambo III – 1988
- Rambo – 2008
- Rambo: Last Blood – 2019
Throughout the movies, we are taken from Washington State, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Mexico as the Rambo franchise grew in scope. Find out how just below!
First Blood (1982)
Based on David Morrell’s 1972 novel of the same name, we are introduced to John Rambo, a troubled and traumatised Vietnam war veteran making his way to Hope, Washington, to visit an old dying friend from his time in the military.
But unable to escape his past and his treatment back home, Rambo quickly runs foul with the authorities, with sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) making it his personal mission to make Rambo’s life as miserable as possible.
The police’s cruelty triggers John’s trauma, prompting him to retaliate and flee - and the ensuing manhunt makes for some nail-bitingly intense action.
Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
After the events of the first film, Rambo is incarcerated and spends three years in prison before being approached by his former commander and friend, colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who offers him a way out in exchange for returning to Vietnam to find US prisoners of war still held there.
Rambo accepts, and he finds himself thrust back into the jungle in both Thailand and Vietnam in a fight for his own freedom and that of his countrymen, as he tries to get evidence of their captivity.
After the runaway success of the first film, First Blood Part II repeated the trick and earned a cool $300 million at the box office.
Rambo III (1988)
By the late 1980s, the Soviet forces had been in Afghanistan for the better part of a decade, and colonel Trautmen, tasked by the CIA to bring supplies to the Mujahideen forces fighting them, wants Rambo on the team of mercenaries he's assembling.
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Living a simple life in Thailand and tired of fighting, Rambo declines, but soon hears the colonel’s team have been wiped out - with Trautmen captured by Soviet forces.
Unable to undergo a full rescue operation for fear of dragging the US into the war, Rambo has to go it alone and sneak into Afghanistan to bring his best friend and former commander back home.
Rambo III, while successful in its own right, didn’t make as much money as the preceding film - and it would be 20 years before we saw another entry in the series.
Directed and co-written by Stallone himself, Rambo takes place as many years later as it was made. John Rambo is still living in Thailand, working as a snake catcher, having put the past events in Vietnam and Afghanistan behind him.
Unfortunately for John, however, his reputation precedes him - and a group of Christian missionaries trying to enter Myanmar on a humanitarian mission seek out his help to cross the border.
Sympathetic to the violence being perpetrated against the Karen people at the hands of the Tatmadaw, Rambo agrees.
Upon crossing the border, though, the group comes under ruthless attack and is captured, forcing Rambo to return on a mission to save them.
Rambo performed well enough at the box office, but another film wouldn’t be made for 11 years.
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Having moved back to the United States into his father's old horse ranch in Bowie, Arizona, John Rambo has been living a simple life alongside old friend Maria Beltran and her granddaughter, Gabriela, in the last film in the decades-spanning series.
Upon discovering who her biological father through her best friend Gizelle, Gabriela tries to convince Rambo to accompany her to Mexico to find him, but Rambo refuses and he and Maria plead with her not to go.
Not heeding their protestations, Gabriela secretly goes herself, but it’s not long before she finds herself in trouble with the local cartel, headed by brothers Hugo and Victor Martinez, and is kidnapped and forced into a life of slavery.
Gizelle reaches out to Rambo, who immediately makes his way there, where he too becomes a marked man by the cartel with all his leads gone - that is until the mysterious Carmen Delgado, an investigative journalist, joins forces with him to track down the Martinez brothers to rescue Gabriela.
Where to watch the Rambo movies
Unfortunately, the Rambo series is split up across multiple services, and not all of them are available to stream - with some of the entries requiring you to rent or purchase them digitally or on physical media.
- First Blood – Watch now on ITVX
- Rambo: First Blood Part II – Watch now on ITVX
- Rambo III – Watch now on ITVX
- Rambo – Rent or buy on YouTube
- Rambo: Last Blood – Rent or buy on Amazon
If you prefer having films on DVD, you can buy the Complete Collection on Amazon for £74.99.
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