Sylvester Stallone gives shout-out to new Rambo chainsaw carving in Hope, B.C.

Carver Ryan Villiers puts finishing touches on the lifelike chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) before it was installed at Hope’s Memorial Park Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Carver Ryan Villiers puts finishing touches on the lifelike chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) before it was installed at Hope’s Memorial Park Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Hope’s first Rambo statue stands at the edge of Memorial Park, the exact spot where the town’s first ever carving was positioned. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Hope’s first Rambo statue stands at the edge of Memorial Park, the exact spot where the town’s first ever carving was positioned. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Brian McKinney said Hope is lucky to still have much of the same ‘look’, the same geography and even some of the original structures, as when Rambo First Blood was filmed in 1981. A chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo stands facing Wallace Street in Hope Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Brian McKinney said Hope is lucky to still have much of the same ‘look’, the same geography and even some of the original structures, as when Rambo First Blood was filmed in 1981. A chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo stands facing Wallace Street in Hope Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)The Aug. 14, 2020 unveiling of a John J. Rambo statue in the town in which the Rambo franchise started, Hope B.C. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Hope’s first chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo, in red cedar, is installed at Memorial park on Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Hope’s first chainsaw carving of John J. Rambo, in red cedar, is installed at Memorial park on Aug. 14, 2020. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

The town where one of Hollywood North’s first blockbusters was filmed now has a permanent red cedar reminder of the industry’s beginnings. And the carving, of Sylvester Stallone’s character John J. Rambo, is officially Sly-approved according to the man himself.

On Instagram, Stallone posted that he was very proud of the “massive” Rambo statue installed in Hope, “exactly where we shot First Blood.” He also gave a shout out to carver Ryan Villiers, who was commissioned to take on the reincarnation of Rambo’s iconic look in red cedar.

Villiers, an Edmonton-based chainsaw carver, has made a name for himself in the industry by taking on lifelike carvings of Don Cherry and Norm from Cheers. It was these carvings that caught the eye of Hope councillor and leader with Communities in Bloom Victor Smith, who commissioned Villiers for this project.

The process began with a lot of Googling of Rambo in different angles – Villiers estimates he had two to three hundred screenshots on his phone. Then it was about scaling, getting the proper proportions which he has modeled on his own frame.

Throughout the creative process, Villiers heard from Sly’s agent after he had seen his progress on the piece. Stallone was shown the photos of the carving when it was still just bare wood, and loved it his agent said in a text message. “So that was icing on the cake for me,” Villiers said.

The only question the agent had, allegedly from Sly himself, was around the stature of the art piece. The carving, Villiers answered, stands 6 foot 1 inch tall.

“First Blood fans have been waiting for this moment for almost 30 years,”said local tourism promoter Bryan McKinney on the day of the unveiling of the piece Aug. 14. Fans of the franchise always wonder when they visit Hope and its many chainsaw carvings, McKinney said, where the Rambo carving is.

And with the piece now installed, McKinney is also able to push back against the digs from his friends in Philadelphia who have their own bronze statue of Rocky Balboa in their city.

“This day is for the fans, the millions of them, that are around the globe and I’m not lying, it’s a little bit of an emotional day for sure,” McKinney reflected on the unveiling. “We often like to say, you know what, the co-star of this film is Hope, B.C. and a lot of the fans they come to our town because of the way the town looked on screen.”

READ MORE: Farewell to Rambo bridge

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com


Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtFilm industryHopeTourism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seiners fill the waters between Comox and Nanoose Bay during roe herring fishery. file photo, Pacific Wild
Quota debate heats up on the eve of Vancouver Island herring fishery

Industry and conservationists weigh in how much catch should be allowed as DFO decision coming soon

Joan LeMoine. (Peter McCully photo)
OPINION: Joan LeMoine represented the very best in all of us

Beloved Parksville area volunteer left an indelible mark on the community

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. find its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials says it will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

The first COVID-19 vaccine arrives in B.C. in temperature-controlled containers, Dec. 13, 2020. (B.C. government)
More vaccine arrives as B.C. struggles with remote COVID-19 cases

Long-term care homes remain focus for public health

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring has expressed his frustration with harassment of people who have made racist comments online about Cowichan Tribes in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak in the First Nation. (Citizen file)
Island mayor calls for de-escalation as social media gets uglier in racism fight

“Racism is wrong. But so is this kind of reaction”:

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said a lack of experienced crew members and the inability to detect navigational errors is what led to a Sooke search and rescue boat running aground in February 2019. (Twitter / @VicJRCC_CCCOS)
TSB: Sooke search and rescue boat crash caused by ‘misinterpretation of navigational information’

Crew members were lacking experience and unable to detect navigational errors

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in 60 B.C. First Nations by next week

B.C. has allocated 25,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations for distribution by the end of February

Most Read