Friday, January 25, 2008

Rambo Week!!! Review #3: Rambo III

Rambo III

Directed by Peter MacDonald

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Tagline: God would have mercy, John Rambo won't!

So last time we left John J. Rambo he was raging against the machine and left wondering why his country doesn't respect him. Well luckily for us he must have heard about how much success Jean Claude Van Damme was having fighting in Thailand in underground betting rings on shipping docks. Rambo has turned from a killing machine into a stick fighting machine! Woo Hoo.

This movie is so bad. So incredibly bad. Horrible at every moment. I originally thought the film was about Rambo taking on Afghanistan (it has been years since I have seen the film) but when I watched it this afternoon I realized that he is actually taking on Russia and helping out the Afghanistan rebels.

The plot is fairly simple. Rambo's superior officer and only friend, Trautman (played by Richard Crenna) asks him to go one more mission, to help with the aide of an Afghanistan village who is being slaughtered by Russian's. Rambo declines, even after a brief conversation with the head of the US embassy in Thailand played by Kurtwood Smith!!! Better known to action junkies everywhere as Boddinger from RoboCop (and known to other junkies everywhere as the dad from That 70's Show). Crenna tries to hard sell him on the idea that this mission will do some good, but Rambo isn't buying it as he tells Trautman: "My war is over."

Uh Oh. You know what happens now. Trautman is captured by the Russian's and Rambo must go over to Afghanistan and rescue him, in the process he grows to love the Afghanistan family he stays with and even gives a little boy the good luck necklace from his slain lover from the last movie (continuity!). Rambo then proceeds to fight two wars and learns that the Afghani people are not so bad. He helps them blow up Russian's, stab them, and shoot them all for their freedom. I mean after all, the film is dedicated to "The gallant people of Afghanistan." The film should be shown in as a means of diplomacy.

So the movie isn't serious at all. It marks the time when Stallone officially lost it. He turned Rambo, a pseudo-serious figure scarred by the Vietnam war and the war at home, into a one-liner toting, grimacing, 80's action star. The film, made in 1988, is also obviously influenced by the success of Lethal Weapon and the buddy cop genre. For the last 30 minutes of the film, Crenna and Stallone shoot people, blow things up, and spout horrible one-liners and jokey dialogue in the process. Ugh. Everything Stallone did to try and make this character deep and serious and someone who dealt with the issues of post war syndrome, he blows it all up (literally) with this film.

There are scenes where Rambo (as usual) is running from, into, and through fire. Once again there is fire all around Rambo in this film. As he runs through the flames and dives into a cave, Trautman is waiting for him, this is their exchange:

Trautman: How do you feel?

Rambo: Well done.

Yeah, it's lines like that as well as cheesy 80's action lines like when Rambo appears to be doomed and has a gun pointed at him, but Trautman shoots the guy from behind:

Rambo: Nice timing.

Trautman: What are friends for.

Damn you Stallone! I hate that producers gave you the green light on this movie and I hate even more that you think you are a good writer because the idiots at the Oscars decided to give you the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for Rocky.

So he turned the film into a full blooded 80's action movie with all of the cliches. See, even the first two films of the series weren't this cheesy and this blatantly formulaic. The sole purpose of this film was the suck the Rambo well dry for the last time. They had a decent budget (it seems like it at least) but nothing much happens. The last hour of the film, most of the action involves Stallone on horseback out riding missiles from a big helicopter. And about that helicopter, you could tell they spent a lot of money on it because it has a bigger role than Stallone does. At the end of the film, the credit list for helicopter operators is longer than the entire cast.

Well...Stallone did dedicate this film to "the gallant people of Afghanistan" and even has a weird soul version of He Aint Heavy He's My Brother play over the credits...God bless you Stallone. But that doesn't mean he is done yet...because released, just this weekend...Rambo (aka Rambo IV) which grossed just 18 million, getting beat out by (yikes) Meet the Spartans.

I was hoping to write more on the movie, but there is really nothing else to write about Rambo III. It's just like any other generic 80's action movie, it doesn't even have moments that are so bad they are funny (with the exception of the horrible delivery of Stallone's one-liners). I was also hoping to see Rambo this weekend, but instead opted to see There Will Be Blood with Troy. So I will do a write up of Rambo next weekend when I see it.

Rambo week will continue through next week with a review of the new Rambo.


  1. All I remember from my long-ago viewing of Rambo III was helicopters...lots and lots of helicopters. And Rambo cauterizing his bullet wound using an arrow and some gunpowder.