Action Heroes – Stallone: Rambo III

Rambo III had a budget of $63 million, making it the most expensive film ever made at the time of its 1988 release. Now that’s some pretty expensive explosions!

Despite this big bulging budget, Rambo III wasn’t the most popular of the trilogy, but this is my retrospective and to be honest I can’t see why. I loved it!

What wasn’t to like? It had everything a Rambo film should have. Explosions, stick fighting, exploding arrows and first-aid Rambo-style!

What this film did have that its predecessors didn’t was some humour. Maybe this didn’t go down to well with some audiences? I thought it worked quite well and complimented the buddy-buddy style that the movie had adopted. This was the first time we were to see Stallone and Crenna work side by side as Rambo and Trautman to beat the bad guys.

Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) tracks down Rambo at a Buddhist temple in Thailand to ask him to join him on a mission in Afghanistan to supply weapons to a group of Afghan rebels (the Mujahideen), who are fighting the Russians in the Soviet–Afghan war.

Despite Trautman’s best efforts in trying to convince Rambo that he is the ultimate war machine, Rambo declines and Trautman goes it alone.

The mission goes belly up and Trautman is captured and held hostage by Soviet soldiers.

Rambo is informed of the mission’s failure by field officer Griggs (played by Robocop’s ultimate villain Kurtwood Smith). Unofficially, and with his country ready to deny all knowledge, Rambo sets out on a rescue mission to save his mentor. So that’s it, the scene is set, just light Rambo’s blue touch paper and watch him go!

This film has some of my favourite Rambo moments, which includes the first aid I mentioned earlier.


What to do if you have a stick lodged in your side –

Step 1: Remove offending foreign material from body.

Step 2: If you have any spare ammunition remove the head of a bullet from the outer casing.

Step 3: Empty the contents of the shell into the wound.

Step 4: Take a flame to the wound setting alight the gun powder inside.

Step 5: Now the wound has been cauterised, return to your mission and save the day!

We also get to see a bit of humour in the third outing. One of my favourite moments is when Rambo arrives in Afghanistan and prepares for the rescue mission when the guide starts questioning what he is packing.

HAMID: What is that?

RAMBO: It’s a blue light.

HAMID: What does it do?

RAMBO: It turns blue.

Well, it made me laugh!

Another of my favourite lines is when Rambo narrowly avoids a petrol bomb dropped by a helicopter whilst they make their escape –

TRAUTMAN: That was close John, How are you?

RAMBO: Well done! (Pure comic gold)

The thing I liked about the escape through the tunnels and caves is that it is reminiscent of the woods scene in First Blood. He hides in shadows picking off the enemy again!

The fight between Kourov and Rambo is one of the best kills in the Rambo trilogy. After taking a beating; Rambo wraps a rope around the Russians neck and pulls the pins from the grenades on his jacket just before kicking him down into the tunnels. Just as the rope pulls tight round Kourov’s neck, the grenades explode in, what I like to call, the hang and bang!

The most memorable moment in the film comes towards the end. Rambo and Trautman emerge from the caves and are welcomed by the entire Russian army. Colonel Zaysan tells the duo to give themselves up and they will not be harmed (a likely story!) Now some people would say what happens next is far fetched and unbelievable. In my mind it is what Rambo was born to do!

TRAUTMAN: What do you say John?


This was the ultimate showdown – Rambo and Trautman vs. the entire Russian army! Brilliant!

In the closing scenes the two characters comment that maybe they are getting soft. Certainly off screen this was probably the case, I seem to remember Rambo kids toys and a cartoon. Maybe this is what took the edge off the franchise? I find it hard to see why this is considered the weakest film in the trilogy, but thanks to Rambo 4 I doubt that people will change their views on this.

Shane Meekings

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