The movie sequel is, along with the reboot and the remake, one of the most transparent indicators of Hollywood’s greedy excess; any film that does well is almost definitely going to get a follow-up – whether the original cast and crew are attached or not – and the result is often vastly inferior to the original effort. It’s really a case of necessity (or its lack thereof); an original film spawns from someone’s mind largely without any pressure or ulterior motive, whereas most sequels are motivated by the enthusiastic nudging of executives who see nothing but dollar signs.

Though there’s countless sequels that have managed to better the original – Terminator 2 is perhaps the test case for this – what about movie sequels that nobody really needed nor had any particular expectations for, yet wound up being pretty damn good anyway? It’s a rare beast, but these 10 films somehow caught lightning in the bottle, whether the first sequel or the fourth, or even the sixth.

Here are 10 unlikely movie sequels that were surprisingly awesome…



10. Rambo

Though the original Rambo movie, First Blood, was a genuinely brilliant and affecting critique of the Vietnam War – and even featured a genuinely moving portrayal from Sylvester Stallone – the first two sequels were so rabidly maligned that it ended up pretty much being lumped in with them, pawned off as another brainless action film. The second and third film were absolute garbage, and therefore nobody would have expected that 20 years later, with Stallone over 60 years old, he would get the bow and arrow out one last time.

Rambo is by no classical means a great film, but it hews much closer to the visceral tone of the original film. It’s a savagely violent action flick, but isn’t as flippant with it as the middle two sequels; there are consequences to the violence, and the film incorporates this into its theme, that you have to spill blood in order to save lives.

The climactic set-piece of the film, which has Rambo blowing hundreds of mercenaries into gory chunks with an AA gun, is one of the most ludicrously violent things I’ve ever seen, and made it clear that while John Rambo might not be so limber and strong as he once was, he still knows how to kick ass.

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This article was first posted on March 14, 2013