Rambo III (1988)

2010 #119
Peter MacDonald | 97 mins | TV (HD) | 18 / R

As I mentioned in my review of the preceding Rambo film, Rambo III is the one Hot Shots! Part Deux really took to task, and not without reason. Having seen that spoof several times since my youth, a few large chunks of this second sequel felt all too familiar…

Stallone — here serving as writer and star — does leave his character rather open for mockery. Rambo lives as a recluse in a monastery, helping them perform repairs on their temple. Except when he stick-fights for “a little extra money”, and then when he goes off to Afghanistan to defeat half the Russian army single-handed. He does all this showcasing the body of a plastic action figure coated in a year’s supply of Johnson’s Baby Oil, using weapons like explosive-tipped arrows, good for tasks like taking out helicopters. Or obliterating individual soldiers.

It’s thoroughly OTT at every turn, but unfortunately comes several decades before the Ironic Action Movie — unlike Shoot ‘Em Up or (what I’ve read about) The A-Team, it doesn’t know it’s ridiculous.

This is underscored by Stallone again attempting to pack heavy-duty political relevance into the plot. This time it’s Afghanistan, occupied by the Russians with American-supported rebels resisting. How times have changed. Indeed, the situation that area of the world finds itself in now does add a different colour to the film — some might argue the Americans now occupy almost the same position the Russians did back then, for instance — but I’ll leave the specifics of such things to reviewers more versed in the last 25 years of Western intervention in the Middle East.

And did you know, this was the most expensive movie ever made at the time of its release? I didn’t. So there you go.

Rambo III is surely entertaining for some action movie fans, but I can’t say I found it particularly satisfying. Attempts at making a serious political point are misplaced in such a ridiculously implausible action movie, while the action itself is passable rather than particularly enticing. If I were in a generous mood I might afford it an extra star, but I think I’d rather watch a Hot Shots.

2 out of 5

Rambo III is showing on ITV4 and ITV4 HD tonight at 11pm.
Rambo III is on ITV4 tonight, Tuesday 11th February 2014, at 10pm.

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