Feature Story                                                                                  Saturday July 16, 2011


Mission Complete

"Rambo"  movie fans rally for a "Final Take" in Hope BC 30 years after the movie was filmed

Staff/Voice Photos


James Murray from Victoria is arrested by a Brian Dennehy look-a-like. BC Murray came dressed as a Rambo and later won the draw for a helicopter flight but missed out because he didn't stay and so another name was drawn.


Some sounded like Rambo and some even acted like him. There were dogs dressed like Rambo. Moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas sporting Rambo-like headbands. People came from as far away as the UK to take part in what was called Rambo: The Final Take last Sunday in Hope July 11, 2011.


Over the course of the day, a couple thousand First Blood movie fans gathered at a small non-descript wooden span, dubbed "Rambo Bridge" in Hope BC, to say goodbye to what has been for the last 30-years an iconic piece of movie memorabilia.


Work to dismantle the bridge was set to begin the following Monday.

In 1981, Rambo: First Blood, starring Sylvester Stallone, was filmed in Hope BC. It was biggest thing to ever hit the small town situated at the mouth of the Fraser Canyon. When the movie was released the following year, the small town of about 6600 has never been viewed the same way since.

In the opening scene of the movie, John Rambo, a mentally unstable Vietnam war vet, who went ballistic after being abused by the town's sheriff, played by Brian Dennehy, walked across the span on the Coquihalla River.

Did you know the name "Rambo" was actually taken from a Japanese apple. One of the asian charactes on the bridge Sunday said in China they call the movie "Lambo". But Rambo, or Lambo, or whatever you want to call him was a hero then and still is. He could eat things that made a billy goat puke and that's part of what made Stallone's character so loved.

Fast forward 30-years to the announcement that the bridge was going to be demolished and a new one built adjacent to it spawning a movement to try and save it.

A "First Blood Committee" was formed led by Inge Wilson and Brian McKinney who led the charge to but the powers that be decided against it and the bridge was slated for demolition.

McKinney, who is a director of travelthecanyon.com, put together the event for fans who wanted to wanted people to have one last look at the bridge that has perpetuated and drove certain segments of Hope's economy over the decades.

The farewell event, called "The Final Take", was seen on televisions coast-to-coast. According to a Facebook posting, McKinney said that "12 international media affiliates tapped-in to get the story with 4 major networks on the ground doing interviews."

"I think I speak on behalf of our small little army of dedicated committee members that we now have your attention when it comes to marketing "movie tourism" to the rest of the world and what Hope, B.C. has to offer inside this portfolio," he said.

Any publicity is good publicity and after all is said and done, McKinney admitted that his main concern all along has been to enhance tourism in Hope and the Fraser Canyon, not the politics of saving the span.

"The economic trickle-down effect financially to our entire area will now be tough to monitor," said McKinney adding that "our quest was never political. It was to generate exposure for our community and our area."

A positive spin-off from the event was that it brought in money for Hope Search and Rescue with a BBQ fundraiser that was held on-site.

One of the movie's producers was on hand as well as an actor or two. The police car was the same one Dennehy drove when he first accosted Rambo and it was parked in the same spot as it was in the movie.

According to McKinney, Stallone was in New Orleans filming a movie and couldn't make the curtain call at the bridge.

For more information visit: www.travelthecanyon.com

See more photos below.

Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice

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