The other day I was playing Wii Fit with Walter Hill. I said to him, “Hey Walt, I just watched that first Rambo movie.”
“Yeah? What’d you think? (huff, huff, cough)”
“For a crazy killing machine, he sure spends a lot of time not killing people.”
“He kills one guy. Throws a rock at a coptor.”
“Yeah, that part’s cool. Still, I was thinking you outta remake it.”
“Me? No way. I’m taking the summer off to get into shape (huff, huff, small barf, swallow).”
“Fine,” I said. “Looks like if I wanna see a Walter Hill remake of Rambo, I’m gonna have to do it myself.” And I did. It was called The Hunted.
The Hunted is about a killing machine who’s so productive he forgot how to be a human machine. Kind of like a vampire with a soul who stays nice by drinking pig’s blood, he tries to fight his addiction by replacing people with deer. Unfortunately, it happens to be deer hunting season and bunches of dweebs invade his forest, not only bringing temptation to his doorstep, but also dwindling his supply of non-human things to kill instead. Imagine what would happen if a bottle of booze walked into Charlie Sheen’s house and threw out his cigarettes and coffee. Five minutes later, the forest floor is riddled with pieces of hunter. Mostly legs and thighs.
Well, when a killing machine gets to killing, all you can do is call the guy who built the machine and hope you still have the receipt.
I think I got the film’s casting just right. The Rambo is played by Brando McEthnic, and the Col. Trautman is played by Gristle MacVet. Both actors knew we were making a Walter Hill movie, and they were professional enough to leave their earrings and makeup at home.
Because the army thinks muzzle-silencers are for pussies, Rambo’s elite special forces squad specializes in killing people with knives ONLY. Trautman is the guy who taught them how to look real fancy while sticking sharp things into soft things. When asked about his past, Trautman summarizes his own badassness by admitting that while he can teach people to be superkillers, he’s never actually killed anyone himself. Kind of like the martial arts master who’s so good he’s never been in a fight. This is called Audience Reverse Psychology. We do it all the time.
So the mentor has to save the world from the monster he created. Rambolicious. To turn it into a Walter Hill film, all I had to do was amp-up the modern western stuff. I did this three ways:
1. Set up the showdown, then eliminate every other character.
2. Put the two warriors in woods so they can go at it mano-a-mano without another mano getting in the way.
3. Make sure there is as little dialog as possible. Real men don’t speak unless their wives make them.
Rambo is lurking around somewhere deep in the forest. The local police are after him. The state troopers are after him. The FBI is after him. Helicopters are deployed. Roads are closed. Summer camps are shut down. It is a big damn deal. But when Trautman casually says, “Drop me off here. I’ll take care of this shit,” they all know he can’t be argued with because it’s personal. Law enforcement has no jurisdiction in matters that are personal. It’s called the Bill of Rights. It makes this country great.
Trautman enters the woods and immediately begins looking for footprints, smelling trees for urine, bullying birds for info, tracking his prey. When he has a pretty good idea where Rambo is, he sits down and build a fire. Two hundred yards away, foxes tell Rambo he’s being followed, so he builds a fire too. Something badass is about to happen.
Since Rambo is on the lam and a bear stole his knife he has to make a new one out of vine, rocks, and caterpillar guts. Trautman has his own homemade knife, but because he assumes Rambo is making one from scratch, he figures he should do it too just to make things absolutely even. And in that same honorable spirit, he also de-ages himself about twenty-five years, and makes his pee-pee a bit thinner.
They meet in a circular clearing and start waiving knives at each other. Instantly a fault in Trautman’s training becomes apparent. See, because he never figured his knife guys would ever have fight other knife guys, and because he’s never actually been in a knife fight himself, he totally neglected to teach any form of knife fight defense. As a result, it only takes thirty seconds for these guys to slash and shred each other to pieces. When they take a time-out to push their guts back in and apply band-aids, Rambo starts freaking out.
He cries about this and he cries about that and his tears are made of blood cause Trautman stabbed his eyeballs. It gets so his words are overruled by his sobs and you can’t understand what he’s saying anymore, if you could in the first place. Sensing this moment of weakness, thousands of deer show up for a rare chance at revenge. Trautman tries to help his fallen pupil, but there is nothing he can do. Rambo is ripped apart by millions of tiny, herbivore teeth.
When it’s over there is nothing left to bury. But a soldier’s a soldier so Trautman piles up a bunch of rocks and shoves a spare American flag into it. He salutes and says, “I’m sorry we let you down, John.” But when he turns around, he finds himself face-to-face with the bear that stole Rambo’s knife. The bear roars, then stabs Trautman to death. He falls onto Rambo’s grave, ruining it. Now they will be united in violence forever. The film ends on a shot of Trautman’s broken American flag.
I got sued by the Rambo people for copyright infringement, and I got sued by Walter Hill for thematic infringement. I lost both cases, and was ordered to pay a million dollars each. I told the judge he’d have to pry the money from my cold, dead hands, and the judge admitted that he was not willing to do that. The case was thrown out. Don’t fuck with Sam Strange. He once made a Walter Hill film.