Rambo is back, Jack! And this time Rambo needs to save a prisoner from an Afghan fort, but not just any prisoner… Trautman! Oh no! Can he enter the war zone, befriend the rebels, ride some horses, free the prisoners, and take down the bad guy before it’s too late? Find out in… Rambo III.
How?! Rambo is living it up in the citttaaaayyyy. And by city I mean with some monks in Thailand. Approached to help Trautman to help support those fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan he’s like, “fuck no.” This is a good idea because Trautman is immediately captured and tortured. That’s when Rambo ties on his bandana, greases up those abs, and heads to Afghanistan to free his friend. Getting across the Pakistan border he meets up with the Muhajideen, who are hesitant to help this stranger. But when they are attacked by the Soviets the survivors are willing to go along. On their first attempt Rambo isn’t able to get Trautman and he and his allies barely escape with their lives. Sending them away to go in solo he’s able to get Trautman and a bunch of other prisoners and fly a helicopter out of the Soviet base. They are shot down, but Rambo and Trautman basically toy with their prey and shoot and punch people all day until they got a free path to Pakistan… psych! There’s literally the entire Soviet army there to kill them. So they die… double psych! A big ol’ Muhajideen army comes and helps Rambo totally own the Soviets. America! On top again! Ha! Stupid Soviets, getting embroiled in a war in Afghanistan. America learned from Vietnam and wouldn’t have made that mistake again… anyway, Rambo them walks off into the sunset to live peacefully forever more (spoiler: he does not). THE END. Big Question: Has this film aged the worst of any film ever? I mean, Rambo literally says that the US wouldn’t possibly be dumb enough to get into another Vietnam like Afghanistan… come on!
Why?! I do like the Rambo films because the motivations are clear and noble… besides the excessive amount of murder he doles out. In the first he’s just trying to be treated like a human being, the second he’s rescuing POWs, and here he’s trying to save his friend from a war zone. Nothing more.
Who?! All the Rambo films have such small and diverse casts that it’s actually hard to get something for this section. Not like an aspiring musician-turned-actor is gonna get his shot in a Rambo film… kind of a one man show. I was interested to see that Randy Raney was in this film. Interested because he was only in one other film ever: playing the big baddie opposite Sly in the classic Over the Top. Best two-film filmography I’ve ever seen.
What?! Coca-Cola is all over a lot of Sly’s films in the 80s. I liked how it was used in the second film. Here it’s just seen in several spots in Thailand and not commented on. I did want to highlight this film as a Secret Sport Film Alert. We see the Afghanistan sport of Buzkashi played vigorously by Rambo. I believe this is likely the only BMT film to feature the sport.
Where?! We again split out time. This time between the starting setting of Thailand and the major setting of Afghanistan. Once again because of context there really isn’t anywhere else that this could be set… they had to really get across that the Russian conflict in Afghanistan was their Vietnam and the United States was just too smart to fall into a conflict like that again… … … … … yup.
When?! Obviously takes place when the Soviet Union was fighting in Afghanistan, which lines up with the trend that the films take place when the film is being made. Nothing more specific can be found I don’t think… the war lasted ten years. D.
Wow, almost the inverse of the second film. I thought this film was actually kinda beautifully made. Looked amazing. But almost everything else about it was not good. In particular the ending which has Rambo running around some caves killing people before fighting an entire Soviet army all while spouting super poorly aged propaganda. Still fun, but bad.
‘Ello everyone! We are still in the process of making the horrible mistake of watching four Rambo films in a week. Luckily two of them are bonkers 80s films. This is the second one of those. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – After watching the third film I kind of expected something much much worse. These days, online, the third Rambo has a bad rep. The second is widely loved, the fourth has a specific niche fanbase, but the third is accepted as the worst of the franchise. So I was holding out hope this would be the not-gross bad one of the bunch. What were my expectations? I was basically hoping for the parody version of Rambo from UFH starring Weird Al Yankovich. If not that I would accept something, again, over the top jingoistic nonsense, with giant explosions I suppose.
The Good – The first roughly two-thirds of this film is pretty good. Solid vistas, and a storyline which makes you care about Rambo’s goal beyond that it’s good for America. A really good set piece in the Afghan base. And a really good enemy in the Russia commander who feels trapped in a backwater war that is preventing him from attaining the Russian glory he deserves. Just … shut it off right when they escape the base.
The Bad – The last third of this film is everything wrong with Rambo films. Remember how Rambo used a bow an arrow with explosive tips? Those are back, you liked that right? We have a tank hitting a low-flying helicopter and exploding it, that sounds cool right? Rambo explodes someone while hanging them in a cave … that doesn’t sound gross right? You see … I hate all of that. All of the stuff that they seem like they needed to fit into the last half hour is the worst parts of Rambo, and they go all in. That is why, I think, people don’t have fond memories of this film. The ending of the film is just so silly and awful you can’t really even remember that the first hour of the film is pretty good. The level of propaganda is extreme in this one as well. At one point a character literally says “the Afghan people have never been conquered. We already had our Vietnam, this is yours” to the Russian commander. Yikes, that didn’t age very well.
The BMT – I think this is a decent example of how to make a bad third entry in an action franchise. The trilogy has quite the arc: a serious action/drama in the first, a full-throated action film in the second, and basically a parody of itself in the third. But … then again, I kind of like the third one still? It is still a pretty great action film for the first hour of the film. It just sinks under the idea / expectations of Rambo in the end. Did it meet my expectations? I think of the four films I watched this got the closest. It is hilarious how it basically spells out the catastrophe in Afghanistan for the US that would come 15 years later. And yet it is also a pretty amusing action film. That’s just about what I was hoping for.
Roast-radamus – Definitely a very strong contender for Setting as a Character (Where?) for being set in Afghanistan, which must be a rather rare setting for a bad film. There was a brief shot of a Coca-Cola truck in Thailand in the beginning, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to bet a product placement nod. And the closest it’ll get it a BMT nod I guess, as this is the only truly silly-bad film of the bunch.
StreetCreditReport.com – Once again we are too far back to really get any lists besides the yearly Siskel & Ebert show (it wasn’t on that). I will say as far as contemporary fans are concerned, I think Rambo III is the one they’d put as the worst Rambo film made. So that is something. Which made it particularly nice that it managed to sneak in and qualify right at the last second this year.
You Just Got Schooled – I didn’t have time to watch anything else but the canonical Rambo. I will point out that the beginning of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is effectively a combination of Cliffhanger (him losing the raccoon), and Rambo III (him retiring to the monastery at the top of a large staircase). That same scene is spoofed in MacGruber. The early Rambo was ripe for spoofing. And I said I would do it: Jamie’s podcast Mac East 2nd Floor Studios Presents Submersion did an episode on the animated Rambo series Rambo: The Force of Freedom (Episode 79). And the episode features me as well. I rank the top ten Ruby-Spears animated series that have a submarine episode available online … yes, there are ten of them.