Entries Comments

Movie Review: Rambo III

Rambo III
Directed by Peter MacDonald
Written by Sylvester Stallone and Sheldon Lettich
TriStar, 1988

Rambo III dropped significantly in popularity from the original films of the series, landing as merely the 15th overall draw in 1988, behind the new action kid on the block, Die Hard.  Perhaps after a couple of Rambos and four Rockys, not to mention turns in movies like Cobra and Over the Top, people got a little tired of the TestoStallone.  This movie went head-to-head with Crocodile Dundee II on Memorial Day weekend, and Aussie Paul Hogan’s bigger knife won out on that war, by a landslide.

Rambo III is probably the more immediately topical film of this day and age, as it concerns the Afghan Mujahideen fighters against the Russians in the eighties.  Rambo (Stallone) finds himself caught up in Charlie Wilson’s War after Colonel Samuel Troutman (Richard Crenna) gets captured trying to bring down the evil Russian commander, Zaysen (Marc de Jonge), who is particularly brutal with the Afghan fighters and prisoners.

Rambo is originally approached by Troutman and another bureaucrat named Griggs (Kurtwood Smith, another favorite eighties baddie, surprisingly not being one here), wants to live in peace at a Thai monastery.  But when Griggs informs him of Troutman’s capture, it’s time for Rambo to start blowing away Commie ass again.

This was a fixture of late eighties action pictures, especially with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal, that the big motivation for killing lots of people was that your friend, brother, or wife got captured or murdered and you had to get some revenge big time.  Van Damme did it as an underground illegal fighter, Seagal as a cop.  But it’s all the same thing.

Rambo III isn’t all that good, much like it’s predecessor First Blood Part II and the hardly-related First Blood.  But it was still the eighties and demand for well-constructed set pieces weren’t much of a factor, although Die Hard showed how an action film could be done and it won out overall.  The Cold War would pretty much put an end to Rambo’s enemies and the one-man army would start to die out when the U.S. wasn’t pissed off at anyone in particular throughout the nineties.  Even a cerebral character like Jack Ryan, newly-minted for 1990’s fantastic The Hunt for Red October, wasn’t going to last too long.

Rambo III showed that a movie couldn’t just get by on testosterone anymore.  It was going to have to give an increasingly-demanding audience more for the dollar, and by staying firmly entrenched in the blowing-expendable-Commies-away mode, it suffered.

Follows: Rambo: First Blood Part II

Next: Rambo

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.