REVIEW: Rambo III (1988) 4K UHD Blu-Ray – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Rambo III (1988) 4K UHD Blu-Ray

Run Time: 260 Mins Total
Rated: R
What To Expect: Truly astounding remaster, old extras, politically-infused attack on the movie as new material


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 criticizing 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 criticizing 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 criticize it.  I mean, a razzie for worst director?  They didn’t appreciate how difficult helicopter combat scenes are to film, and how debonair 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 mock ups.  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.




The film is now a 4K remaster and full restoration of the original 35mm camera negatives by StudioCanal.  In a HEVC H.265 encode, the new 2160p version is easily the best of the three.  And if people thought that the third film may have somehow came out weaker, perhaps because it’s probably the least liked entry in the series, they’d be dead wrong.  Rambo III in 4K is quite simply astounding.

I don’t like to use the words jaw dropping much, but the opening stick fight just explodes with colour, depth, integrity and vivid life.  No one man has the same shade of skin as the next, including the two fighters.  Dark corners in the back of the room can be stared into.  Stallone walks towards his opponent like he’s right there in front of us… for a 30 year old movie, this is really impressive.  It stays that way throughout too.  Dark scenes in the desert hold their integrity, daylight scenes in the desert look lifelike, despite the terrain being featureless.

For this alone, the release is a must buy if you own a 4K television.

The second 1080p disc though hurts everything.  There are around three hours of extras, but most of you will have seen these (SD) featurettes before.  What you will not have seen is the third in the trio of new featurettes spanning the trilogy, Rambo Takes the ’80s: Part 3.

Lasting a mere ten minutes, the director himself Peter MacDonald gets to briefly mention the shoot in Israel, before political fanatics who clearly haven’t watched the movie (in years at least) are push him out of the way to trash the main feature.  We’re told by bloggers from the likes of The Guardian that the movie is, quote; “Stupid” and “Badly aged”.  The feminist from The Guardian, in particular, trying to offer something other than political whining, gives insight such as “Rambo is well known”.  Really?

What we also learn from this documentary is that, since Sylvester Stallone worked out, and gained muscle, movies such as this were “homoerotic”.  In what world is Rambo III “homoerotic”, by any stretch of a desperate, projecting imagination?  Finally, the cherry on this turd is when one particular journalist, who clearly despises this type of film, laments that there are not enough females in the movie and that both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s movies were too “limited” for him.  So why invite him to speak?  And complaining about a lack of females?

Might it have occurred to the people behind this ‘documentary’ that the target audience for a film like Rambo III, where the titular hero is taking out far left extremists, don’t want to hear the movie get torn apart by… far left extremists?  Fans of 1980’s action don’t want to hear dull-witted  campus-tier bullshit on their bonus features.

Total blemish.  But is it worth it?  For the first disc, yes.