REVIEW: Rambo III (1988) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Rambo III (1988)


Runtime: 101 Mins
Rated: R
What To Expect: A movie that has aged well, overdue for a rewatch

Let’s talk about Rambo III here.  One of those movies that took body blows from multiple directions – and never really deserved it.  Starting with the status quo denouncing the movie for critisizing the Soviet Union at a time when people were trying to build bridges.  And nobody wanted to hear about Afghanistan in 1988 (the film was originally supposed to be set in Siberia), a lot had changed in 12 months after Rambo III was filmed in ’87.  Then there were the liberals who critisized the levels of violence, the film actually held a Guinness World Record for most acts of violence held in a movie.  Then there’s the fact that Rambo III is sandwiched between First Blood, Rambo II and Rambo IV.  So even fans of the series are prone to call it the black sheep, the bad one.

Rambo III deserves better credit than this.

Part III is first and foremost an action movie, so why people show/showed up lamenting political overtones is beyond me.  It never claimed to be Apocalypse Now.  So if you’re critisizing a movie like this for lack of depth or lack of commentary, you’re doing it wrong.  Rambo III wants to raise your adrenaline and it succeeds in doing it, even the naysayers, I bet, will find it hard to change the channel when Rambo III is firing on all cylinders.

It also comes from a time when the objective was to thrill the viewer as opposed to leaving them bewildered and frustrated.  Like the part where Rambo obliterates a troop of Spetsnaz.  I guarantee you that if those scenes were filmed by today’s action movie standards, chances are you wouldn’t see shit.  You won’t find a composer like Jerry Goldsmith these days either, who for this movie actually used the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra.  Goldsmith was a man who appreciated Rambo and the action in it, which is funny since pissants nowhere as talented or as legendary as he are the first to critisize it.  I mean, a razzie for worst director?  They didn’t appreciate how difficult helicopter combat scenes are to film, and how denonair those scenes are in this movie?

I will point of some shortcomings though.  I think what makes Rambo III the ‘weakest’ of the series is, possibly, the finale.  It feels somewhat rushed and possibly lazy.  It’s not even poor, just ‘okay’.  I think this might be down to trouble on location.  In Sly Moves, Stallone’s book, he mentions that they were forced to finish the movie in the USA due to security threats.  You can spot the difference in weaponry and tanks, legit Soviet hardware is replaced with American mockups.  So, who knows.

If you haven’t seen it in a while, you’ll be surprised at how refreshing Rambo III is.  Especially on Blu-Ray.  Crank up the 5.1 and banish the words ‘guilty pleasure’, this is no lightweight.