At this stage in the Rambo chronology they’d done away with having ‘First Blood’ anywhere in the title. I assume because it was all getting too numeric; First Blood, Rambo III, dig for victory, Johnny 5 is alive…whatever.
But then this movie is far removed from the original film, almost to the point that these are different characters in an alternative parallel dimension. The inspiration for this story seems to have come from an episode of Airwolf, or some other TV show where they go to rescue someone in a far away country held hostage by ‘bad men’. In this case it’s poor old Richard Crenna, as Rambo’s mentor Trautman, who’s in need of a lone soldier of fortune. He’s got himself captured by the Russians, who after the Vietnamese are Rambo’s least favourite nation. At the time they had occupied Afghanistan, so here that’s where Rambo must go to help the downtrodden Taliban throw off their Soviet oppressors.
Given the current political climate, presumably Rambo will be going back there again soon, this time to kill the same people he helps in this one. Such are the shifting sands of being an ally to the Americans, I fear.
What makes this slightly different from the second film is that this one at least has a decent budget, as when it was made, Rambo III was the most expensive movie ever at $63m. That allows them to open the story in Bangkok and progress to Israel and Arizona, both standing in for Afghanistan. It also has some remarkably insightful exchanges between John Rambo, the Taliban and the Russians about the nature of religion and how it can distort the socio-political landscape in a war-torn third world country. Oh no…sorry hang on…that’s wrong. I got confused with some other movie.
In this one the Russians kill most of the Taliban, and then Rambo kills most of them, and there isn’t much talking. If any, really.
It’s difficult to skirt around that his is one of the most violent movies ever made, and during it at least 108 people get shot, burned, hung, stabbed, blown to bits or have their necks broken. It’s not a warming touchy-feely experience and Rambo never says ‘sorry’ once to anyone he hurts.
There is one additional fatality that’s not included in the usual body count. It’s the classic “He ain’t heavy…He’s my brother’, which is murdered in cold blood during the credits by the ironically named Bill Medley. An accessory, before and after, to this criminal fact was the musical producer, Giorgio Moroder. Who I can only assume was taking timely revenge for those that didn’t like his music for ‘Electric Dreams’.
So what does Blu-ray add to this litany of mindless carnage and badly crafted dialogue? Well, I begrudgingly must say that because of the budget this movie looks much better than the first two films and the transfer is technically acceptable. I did notice that for large chunks of the movie the Russian dialogue has no subtitles, which confused me when they eventually appeared. I never saw this movie in the cinema, and I can’t recall what the DVD did, so I’m unsure if this is how it was originally presented. It’s not like their words are of any significance, but it does seem inconsistent.
But then so much of this movie isn’t very uniform, so it probably doesn’t matter. I especially liked the Russian troops who couldn’t decide if they should wear winter or desert clothing, presumably because the forecast was for ‘changeable’.
If pushed I’d say that Rambo III is actually better than the second film, but only because there is more Richard Crenna and they didn’t shoot it on bargain bin film stock.
As for extras there is only one, but it’s a corker. YES! The same frickin documentary that’s on First Blood and Rambo II is back, and it’s still 8 sodding minutes and 39 seconds long! Actually I got so bored with seeing this again that I actually timed how long Stallone speaks, which is a grand total of 5 minutes and 56 seconds on the expansive subject of all four Rambo movies. If you’re looking for more extras then take the disc to McDonalds and ask them to super-size it for you.
(Mark wanted to give the Extras ‘8.39 Golden Stars’, but the star supply wouldn’t stretch to that.)