Face-Off: John Matrix vs. John Rambo

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

Last week’s Face-Off featured the two badass characters of Black Dynamite and Machete Cortez with the former winning the battle handily. Cortez was dealt a double blow as his film MACHETE KILLS sank at the box office.

With the Schwarzenegger/Stallone prison break movie ESCAPE PLAN opening in theaters this weekend, we decided to have this week’s face-off revolve around the two legendary action stars. Since we’ve already done a face-off with these two actors, we decided the next best thing would be to pit famous characters of theirs in the battle this week.

1985 was a great year; Phil Collins, Tears for Fears and Wham! were dominating the charts, Super Mario Bros. was released and we all started buying Swatch watches. It was also the year that both RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II and COMMANDO were released. So let’s focus on that year and have Sly’s John Rambo (from the second Rambo film) battle it out with Arnie’s John Matrix. Both actors were at the top of the action game in 1985 and both these characters were one-man armies. Let the cheesy lines begin…

Difficulty Level of Mission
John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a retired Black Ops commando living the simple life with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) up in a remote cabin in California. Suddenly, his old army buddies start getting murdered, his daughter gets kidnapped and he gets blackmailed.

His mission? Matrix must kill the president of Val Verde (a fictional South American country) in 11 hours of less or they kill his daughter. To make matters worse, the only person Matrix has got to help him is a reluctant stewardess (back in ’85, they were still called stewardesses so back off!). Now he’s got to get to a remote island and kill hundreds of soldiers by himself before the kidnappers find out he bailed on the plane to Val Verde. Matrix is gunning for them all armed with a complete arsenal and a very thick Austrian accent.

The South American soldiers Matrix has to battle are lightweights and his main enemy Bennett looks like a reject from the Village People. He’s facing a bunch of douchebags and although they outnumber him greatly, they barely scratch the guy. John Matrix has a lot more on the line than John Rambo does but his mission is a breeze.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) starts off the movie in a brutal prison camp where he will spend another five years until his former commander (Richard Crenna) visits and offers him a mission that will help him eliminate his prison sentence.

His mission? Head back to the jungles of Vietnam (where he once served) for some recon work that will mainly involve snapping photos of a suspected P.O.W. camp. Once there, things get hairier when he discovers a bunch of prisoners of war and gets screwed over by some Vietnamese allies as well as some American soldiers in the extraction copter. Also, it’s 1985 so the Russians are involved and they’ve got a bone to pick with Rambo as well. Rambo does have help in the form of Co, a beautiful Vietnamese soldier who can shoot a gun and break your heart. Rambo is a true badass and has some decent help but he is up against seasoned pros on this mission so it’s a real backbreaker even for him.
Feats of Strength
Lifts a phone booth over his head and flings it.

Breaks a padlock and chain with his bare hands.

Breaks glass with his bare hands.

Removes passenger seat from a car with his bare hands.

Jumps off of an airplane after it has taken off.
Cuts himself loose from the plane when he gets tangled against it after his jump.

Lifts barbed wire with his bare hands.

Withstands numerous rounds of torture by electrocution.
1) Matrix: “Don’t break radio silence until they see me.”

Cindy: “How will I know?”

Matrix: “Because all fucking hell is going to break loose.”

2) (Matrix releases Sully’s leg letting him fall to his death down a ravine)

Cindy: “What happened to Sully?”

Matrix: “I let him go.”

3) (Matrix has thrown a pipe through Bennett)

Matrix: “Let off some steam, Bennett.”

4) Matrix: “Remember, Sully, when I promised to kill you last?”

Sully: “That’s right, Matrix! You did!”

Matrix: “I lied.”

5) Cooke: “You scared, motherfucker? Well, you should be, because this Green Beret is going to kick your big ass!”

Matrix: “I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I’m very hungry!”

6) Matrix: (after killing a man in the plane)

“Don’t disturb my friend, he’s dead tired.”

1) John Rambo: :”Sir, do we get to win this time?”

2) Trautman: “Then what is it you want?”

“Rambo: I want, what they want, and every other guy who came over here and spilled his guts and gave everything he had, wants! For our country to love us as much as we love it! That’s what I want!”

Trautman: “How will you live, John?”

Rambo: “Day by day.”

3) Rambo: “Murdock…”

Trautman: “He’s here.”

Murdock: “Rambo, this is Murdock, we’re glad you’re alive. Where the hell are you? Give us your position and we’ll come to pick you up!”

Rambo: “Murdock… I’m coming to get you!”

4) Trautman: “The war, everything that happened here may have been wrong, but dammit, don’t hate your country for it!”

Rambo: “Hate? I’d die for it!”

5) Trautman: “John I want you to try and forget the war. Remember the mission. The old Vietnam’s dead.”

Rambo: “Sir I’m alive, it’s still alive, ain’t it?”

6) Rambo: “You know there’s more men out there and you know where they are. Find ’em. Or I’ll find you.”
He’s got none. Schwarzenegger was still early in his acting career so Matrix’ personality is about as colorful as a Jim Jarmusch flick. We learn nothing about his past or present and we can barely tell he’s worried about his daughter. The only thing we do discover is that he thinks Boy George has a silly name.
We learn more about Rambo’s character and what makes him tick in a short boat ride in Vietnam with Co than we learn about John Matrix in all of COMMANDO. We care for this guy because all he wants to do is serve his country and live a normal life and he keeps getting screwed over left, right and center. He emits emotion from his face, his body language and in the way he speaks to others. John Rambo may not be the most charismatic guy in the world but he‘s nice and likeable as hell which makes it very easy to root for him.
Action threads
For most of the movie Matrix is seen wearing a green shirt and looking pretty plain. Things get nutty at the tail end of the flick when he sports a tight speedo and then puts the war paint and gear on and starts really looking like a commando!
Red bandana, long 80s hair, shirtless and covered with mud from head to toe.
Hottest help
Matrix gets help from Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) who is more cute than hot but she can fly a plane so she scores a few points for that. She loses those points right away though because of her haircut. At the end of the movie it seems like they end up together but there isn’t much of a connection between them during the movie.
Rambo ‘s help in the jungles of Vietnam is Co (Julia Nickson), a gorgeous and sexy Asian soldier whose shooting skills are just as good as our hero’s. These two lovebirds even find time to kiss while on the run from the bad guys. They connect on so many levels and it just makes you feel glad that something good is finally happening to Rambo…until she gets riddled with bullets.
John Rambo
I loved growing up with both of these movies but John Rambo is just the better character on so many levels. He’s the underdog who gets no respect and dishes out payback again and again to those who deserve it. The name and character of Rambo have become iconic and although John Matrix is one of Arnold’s coolest characters from the 80s, on a head-to-head battle with John Rambo, he gets blown away.

About the Author

20 Articles Published