Sergey Tarasovich Podovsky

Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky.png

Full Name
Sergey Tarasovich Podovsky
Appeared in
Soviet military interrogation officer, pilot, head official of Vietnamese prison camp.
Prevent further rescue missions of POWs, kill John Rambo.
Hair Color
Silvery gray
Soviet Russian
Cause of Death
Helicopter explosion caused by John Rambo
Portrayed by

"You may scream. There is no shame."
―Podovsky to John Rambo before torturing him.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sergey "Sergei" Tarasovich Podovsky (Russian: Сергей Тарасович Подовский; January 6, 1935-1988) is the primary villain of Rambo: First Blood Part II. He was a ruthless, brutally efficient Soviet commander that interrogates John Rambo and later has his goal to kill him.

Besides Will Teasle, Podovsky is the most famous villain in the First Blood series, due in no small part to Steven Berkoff's performance.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Sergey Tarasovich Podovsky was born on January 6, 1935 in Leningrad, USSR. He graduated from the Soviet Military Academy in 1957. He became a helicopter pilot with the 11th Soviet Regiment Vladivostok from 1957 to 1960. He then was a military advisor to the Vietnamese People's Air Force from 1960 to 1964 before serving as a military advisor for North Korea from 1964 to 1968, when he was promoted to Major. He then returned to the Kremlin in Moscow to work for the Soviet Military Intelligence Bureau from 1968 to 1970. He then returned to Hanoi, North Vietnam to work as an interrogation officer for the Hoa Lo Prison. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1972. Podovsky was with the Army of the Soviet Union, in the special forces, which took him to Cambodia, China and North Vietnam. Podovsky was fluent in five languages: Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, English and Russian. 

Novelization[edit | edit source]

The Podovsky of the novelization by David Morrell is a bit more bizarre. Unlike the cold and calculating character in the film, this Podovsky is more of a psychotic and vulgar character. The Podovsky in the novel actually seems to be sexually aroused by violence and pain.

Rambo: First Blood Part II[edit | edit source]

"I see you are no stranger to pain. Perhaps you have been among my Vietnamese comrades before, hmm? No answer. Do you wish to give your name? Now, what possible harm can that cause? Pride is a poor substitute for intelligence. What you must understand is that we have to interrogate you. To Sergeant Yushin here, you are a piece of meat. A laboratory experiment. But to me, you are a comrade, similar to myself, just opposed by an act of fate. I know you are trying to facilitate the release of war criminals held by this republic. I can appreciate this. But this incident, your capture is... embarrassing."
―Podovsky talking to John Rambo

Lieutenant Colonel Podovsky, along with his men, are working with the North Vietnamese communists and holding several American soldiers prisoner in a prison camp. Podovsky is first seen when Rambo and an escaped prisoner are captured and sent to a Viet Cong prison camp. Podovsky arrives in a helicopter and pulls John Rambo out of a sewage pit after Lieutenant Tay strikes him. Podovsky takes Rambo's own knife and scrapes a leech off of Rambo's chest and has Rambo cleaned up. With his best Russian soldier, Sgt. Yushin, Podovsky interrogates Rambo, first attempting to sweet-talk Rambo into radioing Marshall Murdock and instruct him to never conduct further searches for prisoners of war. Rambo refuses to comply with this and reads the radio transcript of when Murdock gave the orders to betray Rambo when he needed him most. When Rambo still refuses to do this, Podovsky orders Yushin to torture Rambo. Yushin does this by electrifying Rambo on an improvised electrocution device made up of a metal bedspring mattress. When this fails, Podovsky pulls Rambo's own knife from a fire and has Yushin drag the heated blade along his cheek, cutting the skin and instantly cauterizing the wound. Rambo only agrees to comply to Podovsky's demands when Podovsky orders Yushin to put the heated blade into another POW's eyeball. Instead of giving the demands, Rambo sends a threat to Murdock telling him he will come after him and fights his way out of the room with the help of his partner, Co Bao. Podovsky sends Lieutenant Tay and some of his men into the jungle to kill Rambo. This fails, but Co is killed instead and Rambo flies into a rage and kills Tay and all of his men. In response, Podovsky sends a number of Russians to find and kill Rambo. After Sgt. Yushin is killed by Rambo, Podovsky decides to take it upon himself to kill Rambo and flies

Podovsky preparing to kill Rambo with his helicopter.

off in his helicopter. After an intense helicopter chase through the jungles, Rambo's chopper is badly damaged from enemy fire and appears to crash land in a river. Podovsky flies down by the downed helicopter and sees that Rambo is seemingly dead. As Podovsky is about to finish the job with a missile, Rambo pulls a hidden M72 LAW rocket launcher and fires it through a hole in the windshield at Podovsky's helicopter, blowing him to bits. In the novelization, Rambo instead grabs him and throws him into the sewage pit where he presumably drowns.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Lt. Col. Podovsky is a complex, hypocritical, ruthless, sinister sociopath. Podovsky is a "faux affably evil" villain, meaning that they pretend to be nice to get what they want. When they do not get what they want, their true, more sinister colors are seen. Podovsky appeared to sympathize with Rambo, but he was really just acting to gain Rambo's trust. This failed. Podovsky revealed the traitorous nature of Murdock's character and attempted to get Rambo to stop protecting him with his pain, since they left him to die. Podovsky seemed to even want to get Rambo to abandon his alliance and come work for him. Podovsky is also a hypocrite, first claiming to be a benevolent friend to Rambo and claiming to detest torture, only to later torture Rambo himself, nearly killing him by means of makeshift electrocution. Podovsky does not appear to be a sadist, as he did not seem to enjoy or dislike torturing Rambo; however he did attempt to put Rambo's scalding hot knife to Banks' eye. However, Podovsky did smile when he thought John Rambo to be dead. Aside from torture and sweet-talk, Podovsky knew other ways to obtain information, such as blackmail by threatening to kill others. Podovsky's claim that Rambo was doing "much better than the others" suggests that he has tortured many other people before. 

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Podovsky in the video game (which, again, makes you wonder if they watched the movie!)

    Podovsky was not actually portrayed by a Russian. He was actually portrayed by a British actor named Steven Berkoff. In fact, no Russians ever played any main Soviets in the Rambo films. Colonel Zaysen was portrayed by a French actor named Marc de Jonge. Kourov was portrayed by the American Randy Raney. However, Voyo Goric, who portrayed Sgt. Yushin, was a Yugoslavian actor who was alive during the Soviet occupation of Yugoslavia. But he wasn't a Russian.
  • Two years earlier, Steven Berkoff portrayed another Soviet villain, General Orlov, in the James Bond film Octopussy. General Orlov had similarities to Lt. Col. Podovsky, but on a more pronounced scale. He felt his own government, the Soviet Politboro, was full of geriatrics who were too old and weak to keep up the mission of Soviet supremacy, and proposed a sinister plan to set off a low-grade nuclear bomb in a US military base in West Germany. The resulting explosion would cause the West German liberals to pressure their government into forcing the American military to withdraw their troops from German soil. This would later clear the way for a Soviet invasion of West Germany and beyond, ensuring Soviet supremacy in Europe.
  • In the video game, Podovsky looks almost completely different and addresses himself as "Lieutenant Podovsky" rather than Lieutenant-Colonel Podovsky. 
  • Third Rambo villain to be killed in a helicopter. 
  • In the NES Rambo game, he is called "Commander Podovsky".
  • In the Rambo: First Blood Part II novelization, he is called "Lieutenant-Colonel Podovsk".
  • Despite being the film's primary antagonist, Podovsky is not seen until an hour into Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Podovsky is Russian Orthodox Christian.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

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