The Rambothon – Part 3


So we weren’t impressed with the second movie. But surely the film-makers will simply course correct rather than steering this tank further off the path!

Title: Rambo III

Released: May 1988

Director: Peter MacDonald

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Kurtwood Smith, Marc de Jonge, Sasson Gabai

Plot: Col. Trautman once again tracks down John Rambo, this time to a Tibetan monastery, in an attempt to recruit him on a mission to protect the just and noble people of Afghanistan from the evil Russians. Rambo refuses to return to service…until Trautman himself gets captured by the Russians.

Review: Well, it happened. John Rambo has become a full-fledged cartoon. Seemingly more an exercise in ego for Stallone than anything approaching a real character, Rambo is now the goofy cliche I imagined him as a child. He’s introduced with the most dramatic turn to the camera I have ever seen, and then is quickly established as a powerful warrior and noble role-model…kinda like what Vin Diesel has been doing with Fast and Furious.

The opening pit fight is well choreographed, Stallone is clearly doing some of the stunt work, but then they over compensate with him giving all the prize money to monks and working to build their temple.

Speaking of which, the presence of Tibet and Afghanistan in this film really, really dated it. Afghanistan in particular is depicted as an ancient and revered land and brave souls who have never in history been beaten down by invaders, and it’s the solemn duty and honour of John Rambo to fight alongside them against the nasty, nasty Russians. Given that this promoted some of Ronald Reagan’s sketchier foreign policy moves in the region at the time, and the USA was about to join the long list of hopeful invaders. The idea of modern US action movies depicting Afghanistan in anything approaching this level of sympathetic is laughable.

Although Rambo has a more personal stake in this mission – rescuing the only other recurrent character from a POW camp – nothing is particularly exciting this time around. Rambo goes to the Middle East, bonds with the simple, noble people and shoots up some Russians. When we get to the big finale things have descended to complete lunacy with Afghani rebels riding horseback against Russian tanks like they’re in The Lord of the Rings, culminating with Rambo defeating a helicopter by driving a tank into it.

And then, amazingly enough, a title pops up at the end dedicating this movie to the ‘gallant people of Afghanistan’. That’s awkward.

They almost do something interesting with a battle in a series of caverns, but like all the actions scenes in this movie they spend an inordinate amount of time in close-ups during the fights. Between all the goofy action and the inclusion of a child sidekick, this is very much the Temple of Doom of the Rambo franchise.

It just makes me want to watch Hot Shots! Part Deux.

Rating: THREE out of TEN