Rambo fans arrived in Hope on the weekend to take part in the 30th anniversary celebration of the release of the film First Blood.
Filmed in Hope, the movie has become a cult classic and has inspired several sequels. To mark the anniversary, a walking tour of filming locations, an outdoor viewing of the film on a 40-foot screen and lots of other Rambo-themed events were held.
Dave Dunham travelled to Hope from Vancouver to take in the festivities. Dressed in the traditional Rambo costume, complete with headband, he calls himself a huge fan.
“I drove all the way out here just for this, I’ve lost sleep because of this event, that’s how excited I am. It’s all I could think about.
The 25-year-old Dunham said he fell in love with the film when he saw it as a youngster.
“It’s an instant classic.”
While Dunham made the trip from Vancouver, the distance pales in comparison to some other visitors.
Rambo-maniacs have travelled from all over the world to take in the event, including Japan, England and Austria.
“It was the first action film I ever saw,” explained Martin Krancinger who travelled from Austria to attend the weekend event.
He saw the film when he was 12 years old with his father, and has been hooked ever since.
“It’s my second time here,” he said, adding he was looking forward to the outdoor screening of the film.
Mark Madryga, a meteorologist on Global TV was also on hand, along with his son.
“The setting here in Hope is the big draw for us. Just the history of this being such a big deal, the whole movie crew and Stallone, who was very big at the time having just done several Rockys, descending on Hope and all the footage of Hope in the movie.
“It’s just a neat thing that Hollywood came to town for a few months and shot a huge film,”
Actor Stephen Chang returned to Hope to help with the celebration.
An original member of the First Blood cast – he played the Vietnamese Commander – Chang was in Hope last year for the Kawkawa Bridge farewell party.
He said he enjoys meeting with fans and has always loved the area.
He also said stars like Sylvester Stallone wouldn’t come out to this kind of event because they like their privacy. Chang said you could offer Stallone $10 million and he probably wouldn’t come.
“So they are going to find a poor VC Commander which is myself,” he said with a laugh.
A resident of Vancouver, Chang said he has also brought some Chinese investors with him to investigate business opportunities in the area.
“I love Hope, because I had been teaching kung fu 35 years ago in Hope. I still have a couple of students here.”
He said he has a very sentimental feeling about the city.
“When I feel desperate, I come to Hope. Why? Because there’s hope,” he joked.
Brian McKinney, one of the organizers of the event said the weekend went like clockwork as 100s of fans took in the sights.
However, the beautiful sunshine was a bit of a downer.
“The true First Blood fans weren’t impressed with the weather,” said McKinney. “They like dreary, low clouds and misty depressing weather – the same weather that provided that dark and gloomy set for the movie.”
On Saturday night, when the movie was shown outdoors, an estimated crowd of between 600 to 1,000 watched at least part of the movie.
McKinney called it a night to remember, as audience members shouted out their favourite lines.
On Munday, the action shifted to Hell’s Gate where the annual Pumpkin drop – which was Rambo-themed this year – attracted 700 pumpkin tossers, many in costume. Even the Sasquatch came dressed as Rambo.
After the event, an exhausted McKinney said fans were asking if a 35th anniversary was in the works? A question, he said, he’ll answer after he gets some much-needed sleep.