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

Jimmy Seymour was recognized for his outstanding work as the solid waste operator for Stz’uminus First Nation. (Submitted photo)
‘He has a way with the community’, Jimmy Seymour recognized for his dedication to Stz’uminus First Nation

Jimmy Seymour uses his job as solid waste operator to spread kindness through Stz’uminus

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Missing woman’s remains recovered from Ladysmith harbour

The remains of a 60 year old woman were recovered after a boat fire took her life on Feb. 27

Ladysmith Secondary School. (File photo)
Ladysmith Secondary reports another COVID-19 exposure

This makes LSS the school with the most exposure days in the Island Health region currently

Plantitude’s ‘Stargazer Bubbles’. (Plantitude photo)
Plantitude offers ‘stargazer bubble’ dining experience

The 10 foot by seven foot bubbles can seat up to six people

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Lead donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at the Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A recently finished $4.3-million taxiway extension at the Victoria International Airport (not pictured) is unusable because of a blind spot. (Black Press Media file photo)
Blind spot leaves Victoria airport’s new $4.3-million taxiway extension unusable

Solution has been put on hold by COVID-19 pandemic, says airport authority

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

This was the scene outside North Saanich’s Parkland Secondary School after an attempted but unsuccessful break-and-enter into the school torched an ATM inside of it. Sidney/North Saanich RCMP did not make any arrests and currently lack suspects as the investigation continues. Members of the public who may have witnessed something or possess other information can contact police at (250) 656-3931 or to Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. (Submitted)
Money to burn: burglars torch North Saanich high school ATM

Police dogs searched the exterior and interior of the school after early morning break-and-enter

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read