Lions Gate Records (0856968001364)
Movie | Release date: 02/05/2008 | Film release: 2008 | Format: CD, Download

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# Track   Duration
1.Rambo Theme3:36
2.No Rules Of Engagement7:11
4.The Rescue4:06
6.Searching For Missionaries7:09
7.Hunting Mercenaries2:45
8.Crossing Into Burma7:01
9.The Village1:45
10.Rambo Returns2:46
11.When You Are Pushed2:28
12.The Call To War2:53
14.Prison Camp4:44
15.Attack On The Village3:03
16.Rambo Takes Charge2:24
17.The Compound7:50
18.Battle Adagio3:14
19.Rambo Main Title3:32
20.Rambo End Title2:58
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Rambo - 07/10 - Review of Oscar Flores, submitted at
For Sylvester Stallone, Rambo proved to be the character that catapulted him into an iconic movie hero. Rocky was certainly an incredible character — perhaps epic — but he wasn’t even close to the mega-explosive, action-hungry Rambo. The first installment of the Rambo series, First Blood, introduced us to a character that suffered from psychological entrapment due to his experiences in the Vietnam War. Unquestionably, First Blood still stands as the best film in this series due to the seriousness of the subject addressed, great balance between action and drama, and the incredible character and script development. More importantly, First Blood was given a beautiful score by Jerry Goldsmith, which included a magnificent theme that is both heroic and melancholic.

Rambo (2008) does not have a solid script or incredible characters, making the film somewhat ordinary. Surely, the action sequences are unbelievably violent and realistic, but again, the storyline is incredibly weak. For this final installment of Rambo, Brian Tyler was chosen to compose the score. Thankfully, Tyler honored Jerry Goldsmith by making extensive use of his wonderful main theme in the score. Goldsmith’s theme is an important part of the new score but it’s not the only theme. Fortunately, Brian Tyler comes up with his own theme that is equally powerful. Arguably, the theme provides a sense of resolution and fulfillment. After all, Rambo (2008) tries to give the audience a final chapter in the life of an iconic movie legend. Nevertheless, aside from Tyler’s new theme and the use of Goldsmith’s old theme, the score offers little originality in the arrangements, orchestrations, and music.

The score starts with 'Rambo’s Theme,' a beautiful track that incorporates Goldsmith’s original theme from First Blood. (This theme also developed into a song titled ‘It’s a Long Road’ in the original First Blood movie). Moreover, this first track introduces the magnificent six-note motif composed by Tyler. Admittedly, I found this theme to be a great representation of the emotionally deprived modern John Rambo, who is battling thoughts of reconciliation, justice, and peace, while still being controlled by brutal violence.

In the second track, ‘No rules of Engagement,’ Tyler conclusively sets the stage for what will dominate this score: Atmospheric sequences that evolve into percussive mayhem, accompanied by fast string ostinato patterns, driving guitar leads, and brass motifs used sporadically but appropriately. As usual, all of the action-packed percussive sequences can be heard throughout this piece; some of which offer interesting breaks and evolving progressions. This really becomes an integral part for the rest of the score. Tracks like ‘The Rescue’ and ‘Hunting Mercenaries’ are based on bombastic rhythms, yet lack brilliant orchestrations. Certainly, this is the standard action sound commonly found in movie trailer music which gets the adrenaline flowing, while, unfortunately, offering very little new material in terms of musicality.

Evidently, a major problem in this album is the extremely long duration of some tracks that could be characterized as mere background and atmospheric pieces. For example, ‘Searching for Missionaries’ is over seven minutes long, yet contains about six minutes of ambient textures and sounds with the sporadic use of certain percussion hits. Moreover, even the rapid pace at the end of the track contains nothing more than harmonic string techniques relying extensively on heavy drums. ‘Crossing Burma’ suffers from the same problems, although, luckily, Tyler did incorporate more fragments from some of the major themes, making it less of an atmospheric piece. On the other hand, cues like ‘Prison Camp’ and ‘Searching for Missionaries’ work very well in the film, helping emphasize the tension and suspense experienced by the characters, but they are not very entertaining when listened outside the movie. Again, the atmospheric textures are hard to appreciate without good instrumentation supporting them.

I cannot emphasize enough just how powerful Tyler’s theme for this film really is. Thus, in order to really appreciate Tyler’s glorious six-note motif, I recommend listening to ‘The Village’ and ‘Attack on the Village’, both of which provide the best performances of this great theme. These pieces could be categorized as the best in this new score.

Undeniably, Brian Tyler appears to be influenced by the Media Ventures style, which has become the absolute dominant style for film music in the 21st century. For example, ‘When you are pushed’ contains sonic elements that appear to mimic the ones found in the Distorted Reality sample libraries. More importantly, the panned, reversed sample drum/cello hit sequence made famous by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard in Batman Begins can be clearly heard in this track. In ‘Battle Adagio,’ the choral textures are reminiscent of those used by Zimmer and Gerrard in Gladiator. Thus, in some instances, unfamiliar listeners with Tyler could conclude that the music comes from Zimmer or from one of his “disciples.”

Generally speaking, Brian Tyler creates a score that works well with the film in terms of adding tension and suspense to the movie. Nevertheless, apart from both main themes, the score does not act in accordance to the elements being depicted on screen. The gruesome acts of violence deserved more seriousness and consideration by Tyler. Providing action beds and sequences comparable to the ones found in Marco Beltrami’s score for ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ seems to be an irresponsible choice by Tyler. Well, arguably, this movie can be seen as nothing more than action sequences glued together in order to magnify Rambo’s hero status, and thus the violence and terror experienced by the villagers and missionaries does not necessarily deserve any thoughtful or solemn score; nevertheless, based on the tone of the film, the latter is more likely an alternate interpretation to Stallone’s original understanding of this movie. Brian Tyler creates a beautiful and memorable theme capable of stirring emotions on movie viewers of all ages; however, Tyler fails to capture the true essence of this film by providing a generic action score that lacks any true emotion or understanding of the dramatic elements shown on screen.
Rambo - 04/10 - Review of Tom Daish, submitted at
Despite a somewhat maligned reputation, Sylvester Stallone has made and appeared in some fairly decent films and currently seems on a kick to revive his career by delving into his back catalogue with another Rocky film and a fourth Rambo. In fairness, the original films for both series were pretty damn good, although the sequels have, perhaps inevitably, been disappointing. However, both Rambo 4 and the recent Rocky have garnered generally decent reviews and are not feeble late career ego trips as could have happened. Where Bill Conti was around to score Rocky, Jerry Goldsmith sadly didn't live to work on Rambo and so Brian Tyler follows in his footsteps (as he half does with his recent Aliens vs Predator sequel score). Unfortunately, as Marco Beltrami failed to do with his Omen remake score, Tyler largely fails to capture the flavour or match the quality of Goldsmith's originals, especially the action heavy second installment, neither does Tyler really do much to capture the more noble spirit of First Blood.

The album opens with Goldsmith's original Rambo theme, a poignant, but stoic trumpet melody that is, surprisingly, not one of Goldsmith's better known melodies despite its obvious quality. It certainly had me thinking 'oh that's the Rambo theme' on first listen. Oddly, Tyler includes the 'theme' at the opening and then the Main and End Title together at the end of the album. This slightly dubious production follows from the similarly poorly produced Aliens vs Predator album which neither follows the film order nor is sequenced (in true John Williams style) for the ideal listening experience on disc. The upshot here is that Goldsmith's material bookends the score and effectively stands alone from Tyler's own material which rarely references it (a hint at the end of Conscription is an effective touch) nor follows Goldsmith's stylistic lead.

It seems unfortunate that after such a promising start, the quality of Tyler's work has been pretty variable and Rambo is far more Media Ventures than Jerry Goldsmith. It's not that there's anything overtly wrong with it, but after the complexity of some of his early scores - The Hunted or even his replacement Timeline which manages to be as good as Goldsmith's original - there isn't much here to single out Tyler as a composer of talent. With composers such as John Powell writing such thrilling action scores, Tyler's work here seems positively insipid; there's plenty going on, but extended sequences of action scoring, from No Rules of Engagement, through to The Rescue, Attack on the Village and The Compound, bang away on the percussion, feature slow brass lines and strings that seemingly plug away on the same note until the chord changes.

The slower material is similarly Media Ventures in style, Aftermath being a case in point; the adagio strings and horn chords sound noble enough, but the melodic material is conspicuously weak compared to the original Goldsmith melody (why didn't Tyler just use it a lot more?! It's not like the Rambo theme has been overused previously). That the album reaches James Horner-esque lengths does it no favours at all and says pretty much all it has to say within the first half a dozen tracks. An hour of simple, loud action music and simple, noble adagios isn't sufficient to sustain the interest. If you like Hans, Klaus, Harry Gregson-Williams and chums then this'll hit your buttons, but another action score I could easily have passed and one that makes me miss Goldsmith all the more.

This soundtrack trailer contains music of:

Original Trailer Music, Kevin Christopher Teasley (Trailer)

Other releases of Rambo (2008):

Rambo (2008)
Rambo (2016)

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