Release: 1988, theatrical
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Kurtwood Smith
Directed by: Peter MacDonald
Previous in the series: Rambo: First Blood Part II
Next in the series: Rambo
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: After his friend and mentor, Colonel Trautman, goes Missing In Action, John Rambo gears up and goes to Afghanistan.
So whereas First Blood was very dark, Rambo: First Blood Part II was very over the top. This movie sits somewhere inbetween, unfortunately, it really doesn't work out for it.
Let me retrace my steps for a second and talk about the plot. When we rejoin our hero in this move, Rambo is doing some pretty well-shot stick fighting. Implant this image in your mind, because this is actually the highpoint of the movie. It's all down hill from here. Rambo has gone to Thailand and chosen to live in peace in a buddhist castle, now, this could have been a great - albeit risky - film. The movie could have dealt with Rambo struggling to find a place in the world outside of warfare. Dealing with finding peace and trying to resolve his problems without violence. This could have been a nice tail-end to the roots of the franchise, veterans who struggle to find a place in the world and dealing with major trauma. Unfortunately, this is Hollywood. Money is meant to be made on this movie. This results in Rambo being approached by his former mentor Col. Trautman about going to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets (much akin to the beginning of the last movie).
To the movie's credit though, initially Rambo declines and we don't see yet another retake on American officials not respecting him. Trautman goes to Afghanistan by himself and it isn't till he's caught by the Soviets that the government officials talk him into going in to save him. It's also nice to the character of Colonel Trautman actually doing something active instead of just being the guy who defends him verbally like in the two former movies. Where this movie fails isn't really in the plot, but more in the poor attempts to marry the serious aspect of First Blood with the over-the-top action of Rambo: First Blood Part II. This results in a first half where the characters act almost as a tour-guide of Afghanistan and it's culture. Followed by a second half of an otherwise pretty serious movie being turned into action schlock. Really, the action in this movie makes even less sense than in Part II. Of course, the action is much more reserved than in the former movie. Rambo III doesn't have nearly the same amount of absolutely ridicolous explosions. One of them stood out to me though, you'll probably guess which one if you watch it yourself.
This movie could have been a lot better than it is, by choosing what it wanted to do. It could have gone the absolutely action-filled route of Part II, or sticked to it's guns on the reserved nature of Part I. As it stands, it becomes a weird mess of atmosphere. The movie is perfectly servicable though, it's just sad that it could have been so much more than it turned out to be.