Retro Review: Rambo III

If “Rambo: First Blood Part 2” was the equivalent to what “Rocky 3” was to that series. Then “Rambo 3” is this series “Rocky 4”.

It’s loud, more proud and more bang for your buck.

Rambo is once again tracked down by Trautman, this time hiding in a Buddhist monastery, and asked to take up arms once again.

Trautman wants Rambo to come with him on a covert mission to Afghanistan. Rambo refuses.

Trautman’s mission goes belly up and he is held captive by a ruthless Russian general so it is up to Rambo to go and save his friend. (Insert: Bromance music here)

Rambo 3 like Rocky 4 makes a political statement about Russia and the Cold War. Unfortunately the movie came out just after the Cold War ended and never got the fanfare that Rocky 4 did.

The movie itself isn’t bad for the first half. But the second half turns the story more political, more bloody and well, cartoonish. I have to blame the script for the film’s faults. Plus adding Trautman into so many of the scenes for me spoils Rambo. Can you imagine how less annoying those scenes in the caves and fight above would have been without Trautman? I would have sent Trautman to gather the rebels or better yet kill him off and have Rambo go mental like the last film.

The script also wanted Rambo’s relationship with the kid to be like what Julia Nickson did for Stallone in the last film, this fails miserably.

Rambo is not a father figure in any sense of the word. He hardly talks or shows any emotion whatsoever.

He’s a sex symbol and a hero which is why the romantic angle worked vs. the father angle.

Another reason the script is at fault is Stallone’s “one-liners” don’t work. He can’t do this sort of comedy like Arnie can. That’s what made Arnie so special he could deliver them where Stallone relied on his ability as a writer to avoid dumb lines like that.

This is Peter MacDonald’s directorial debut. He was the cinematographer on the underrated Vietnam film, “Hamburger Hill” the year before he made Rambo 3. He was also the director of the helicopter unit on “Rambo: First Blood Part 2”. So this guy knows Rambo and action and Peter does all he can to make this a thrilling action film.

It is interesting to note that Peter would reteam with co-writer Sheldon Lettich for the very underrated action film “Legionaire” with Jean Claude Van Damme. That movie is better than “Rambo 3”.

(2 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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