Sylvester Stallone’s Friday at the Cannes Film Festival ended with a honorary career retrospective of the Rocky and Rambo star, topped off with an early look at his upcoming Millennium Entertainment movie Rambo V – Last Blood, which he co-wrote.

Following a standing ovation (off which Stallone teared up) and an introduction by Cannes boss Thierry Frémaux, a sizzle reel fired off with Stallone’s gung-ho speech from the 1978 trucker union movie F.I.S.T.: “We’re going to go back out there, and they’re not going to beat us down no more, they’re not going to burn us down no more, they’re not going to shoot us down no more…” before getting the union members in a fevered shout “One Fist! One Fist!” The soundtrack lit up with Survivor’s Rocky III song “Eye of the Tiger” and the crowd clapped in unison, continuing through to Bill Conti’s Rocky theme “Gonna Fly Now”.

Unlike three years ago at Robert de Niro’s Cannes career tribute, which was dominated by Harvey Weinstein’s praise of the two-time Oscar-winning actor, there were no speeches by any of Stallone’s contemporaries or co-stars. Rambo V – Last Blood producer Avi Lerner and co-star Paz Vega were in the Grand Theatre Lumiere, along with Stallone’s wife Jennifer Flavin and daughter Sistine Rose Stallone, star of Entertainment Studios’ upcoming 47 Meters Down: Uncaged.

Taking center stage, Stallone said: “When I started out, I just wanted to get a job. Then I discovered writing, and it was a fun way to express myself. Ya know, without failing, if I had succeeded in what I wanted to do, it would have been over. But the fact is that I failed and found something else to do, which is be able to take the words inside and put ’em on the page and hopefully they would relate to everyone. I want to thank the power of the written word. This is the most extraordinary event I’ve ever seen. I did not expect this.”

And then everyone in the Grand Lumiere got to watch what crowds at CinemaCon couldn’t during the Lionsgate session: the Rambo V – Last Blood trailer.

Rambo V
.Rambo V – Last Blood
Lionsgate

The trailer begins with shots of Rambo’s ranch. “I’ve never talked about this before, because I may never live through it,” he says in the voice-over against plucked country strings. “Nobody would understand,” he says standing in a bunker of weapons. Then as the action switches to Mexico, Rambo says “All these years, I’ve kept my secrets, but the time has come to face my past. If it comes looking for me…” — cut to Rambo in the center of a gang with guns pointed at him — “they will welcome death.” We see Rambo building weapons in his barn, aiming his bow and a gunman descending upon his ranch. Final shot is of him raising his signature knife and slashing down.

Earlier today during a Cannes Masterclass, Stallone shared more about Rambo V‘s plot, than Martin Scorsese and de Niro did when discussing their upcoming gangster film The Irishman during their Tribeca Film Festival sitdown.

Before the new 4K DCP print of the 1982 film hit the screen in the GTL, Frémaux asked Stallone to share some memories from First Blood 

“Nobody wanted to make this movie. I was the 11th choice. Every actor, every important actor said ‘No.’ It made me think, why is everyone afraid of this movie? It was a very different project. It was a man fighting his own country. But I thought there was something there because of Vietnam. There’s a lot of men out there who have suffered in the world. If i could tell their story, it might be interesting,” said Stallone.

“When I wrote the screenplay, I decided he would say nothing. He would almost have no dialogue,” Stallone continued, “The producer yelled, ‘I paid you all this money! You must talk” I said ‘No, no one understands me anyway.’”

Stallone said that when the film was finished, none of the studios wanted to distribute it. Until, the producers showed off 20 minutes of First Blood to a group of distributors.

“Those 20 minutes — they loved it, and it changed my life,” said Stallone.

The Rambo franchise through four films has grossed close to $728M worldwide, unadjusted for inflation. Rambo V  – Last Blood opens on Sept. 20 via Lionsgate in the U.S.

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