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Movie Review: Rambo

Written and directed by Sylvester Stallone
Lionsgate, 2008

Hard to believe, but Stallone has now written 21 produced screenplays and makes his 7th trip behind the camera with Rambo, his continued wallow in nostalgia that brought us the surprisingly decent Rocky Balboa in 2006.

Being that Rocky is the sort of underdog story that can always sell, however, the trick would be harder to pull off with the one-man-army relic from the eighties.  And considering that the first three Rambo films weren’t top-shelf quality, I was more than skeptical that this could be pulled off with any fun whatsoever.

In the fourth John Rambo adventure, we find him in Southeast Asia capturing cobras for some kind of survival show, a cobra rodeo if you will.  Then Christian aid workers descend on the village and ask him if they can use his boat to get to Burma, which in the traditional Rambo style, he refuses, because he doesn’t feel they can change anything.  After turning down Michael Burnett (longtime TV character actor Paul Schulze), the persuasive Sarah (Julie Benz) gets him onboard.

Rambo gets them past Burmese pirates and into the zone where their care is needed, and he takes off.  But the workers are soon invaded by a nasty general who kills everything in his path and takes them captive.  Rambo is soon visited by a pastor (Ken Howard) who has apparently hired every other kind of Rambo out there to get his missionaries back.

You know what follows…Rambo starts taking matters into his own hands and still has a few hundred kills left in him.  This leads to an overload of bloody action in the finale, which is the main reason to watch this flick.  Believe me when I say this might be one of the bloodiest films ever made, right up there with Saving Private Ryan for its sheer number of ways that body parts can detach from the rest of what they’re connected to.

And, to me, it was highly entertaining, probably a lot more than I should ever report…it’s where the phrase “guilty pleasure” comes from.  I’m guilty for enjoying the crazy over-the-top violence.  Good thing, too, because almost everything else about the movie is pretty annoying, especially Julie Benz’ character Sarah and Graham McTavish’s Lewis, one of the pastor’s hired guns, who is one of those guys who always has to talk and antagonize everyone around him.

So, it’s not a glowing review, and if you don’t think that the massive, bloody body count won’t help, then stay away.  Just know, I got a kick out of this and I’m probably going to need to go to therapy or something.

Follows: Rambo III

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