I actually really enjoy both versions of Stallone’s triumphant return to his best character; Rambo is still an angry killing machine, who is struggling to find his place in the world. The Extended edition entitled John Rambo is actually less violent, which some people may like. But that is also it’s major flaw; it lacks the emotional punch of the Theatrical Cut which really adds to the tension.
Several scenes are utterly different in John Rambo including what is normally the opening scene in Rambo with the mines being thrown into the swamp and the people being forced to run through them. This scene is now several scenes into and although it’s still disturbing it removes the very engaging scene from the opening, so it doesn’t quite grab you as much.
Rambo has a little more to say in this version too, especially with Julie Benz which expands more on their relationship. There’s a scene in the rain where Julie is trying to convince Rambo to take them up river. She now says “You care. Because if you didn’t, you would have taken us there, taken the money and be done with it. But you didn’t do that. Maybe you’ve lost your faith in people, but you must still be faithful to something. Believe me, I’m scared. And I love my life and I don’t want to lose it. But trying to save a life isn’t wasting your life, is it? Will you help me?”
This is arguably the only thing in this version that I like more than the Theatrical cut. The scenes are technically the same except with different dialogue. The parts on the boats are a little longer with a bit more chat.
One of the more violent scenes in the Theatrical on the Pirate boat is a little less brutal where you only hear one shot but in the Theatrical Cut the pirate’s face becomes mincemeat as he’s shot several times in the face.
Scenes of children being killed were not in the Extended version which I think was very wise as it’s not exactly fun to see that; pretty rough so I didn’t mind that being removed.
The infamous throat rip scene is a little shorter in the Extended Cut which sucks because that was one of my favourite scenes.
Oh you also have a prayer scene where the Pastor guy visits Rambo to let him know that his people are missing, there is now a prayer voice-over as Rambo prepares to go find them.‘Yes. Lord, make me your instrument of peace. Where there is hatred, let me bring love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive. It is in dying that we awake to eternal life.‘
Essentially the Extended Cut is just a tamer and frankly less interesting version of the Theatrical Cut. There are a few interesting moments and I happily own both but if I have to choose between them then I’d have to recommend the Theatrical Cut. It’s just a more visceral and hardcore film that has far more power than the watered down, safer Extended Cut. Both are worth watching out of curiosity, but for me I’ll stick with the Theatrical version.