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The first years of the seventies, a couple of years after the summer of love and with the emergence of followers of Charles Manson at the home of Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski very recently, the operating cinema began its golden age of tone prison and guerrilla, softcore and hardcore. Of torture and revenge.
Also with them came Morrell's first novel, 'First Blood', a stark ultraviolent action drama about a war veteran with emotional stability problems pursued by angry villagers and by lawmen with as many or more problems as John Rambo.
Casualty? We do not think so. But puttin a prestige costume on that drama did not hurt the novel, which has continued to create followers, curiosity and good afternoon readings. Because it is a phenomenal novel and very, very extreme. Much more than the adaptation of Sylvester Stallone, Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim, who humanized the tortured character to become a true hero of a, say, psychopath.
Thanks to that film and the massive success of the sequel, Morrell, who never lived a success like the one he had with his first novel almost fifty years ago, was a happy man. He was responsible for the novelization of the two deliveries after the mythical ‘Cornered’ and his triumphant return in the form of a definitive piece of goldsmith actioner in 2008 obtained penguins profits raising more than double his budget.
But all that was left behind when a couple of weeks ago, during the presentation of the film, Morrell denied the fifth and presumably last film about his character.
During the first fifty pages of ‘First Blood’, a completely naked man guts a policeman in a police station and bursts the bones in his face for a second, making him bleed from his eyes, before embarking on a desperate escape. If that does not respond to the ultraviolence of the 70's own grindhouse movies that the writer so repudiates, we do not understand anything.
By the way, again mentioning the unusual (for good, very good) ‘John Rambo’, which he liked so much, it does not hurt to compare it in turn with the operating cinema, I do not know, Filipino? which glorifies violence as just a more angry Stallone with the world that his own character can do.
And it seems that the writer, over the years, has lost the perspective of the character. As if he was not able to differentiate his work from the set-up that Stallone made until he took it to the cinema. The humanization of the character was given by its protagonist in front of and behind the camera. Yes, it also gave Rambo an immortality that didn't exist on paper, yes, but that immortality is the same one that fills the writer's pockets for forty years.
It is a pity that this relationship has been twisted like this, that Morrell did not want to support Stallone more, but perhaps this time the agreed check did not arrive.
We all agree that the character is loved, respected and remembered for his audiovisual version. Especially in Spain, where the novel has ceased to be available at a normal price for years and fortunes are requested for the old editions.
There may be nothing left but the shadow of the past, and although it does not seem so, in the very interesting 'Rambo: Last Blood', we are living the days when the character is best defined, but its author no longer recognize him. For the first time we see a medicated Rambo, with problems inside and out, vulnerable as ever, enraged as always and living in a tunnel like the ones he never left behind.
It has been a shame that Stallone did not take the reins of the project again, because a somewhat less crude realization is missing a bit. Millennium Films should rethink its strategy a bit and leave the filmmakers a little more freedom, because their most honest projects end up leaving the shadow of suspicion from day one. And if not, ask Neil Marshall.