People forget that FIRST BLOOD was actually a very good, intellectual film with deep themes that made a statement on society at the time. People forget that because of RAMBO III. The third film in the Rambo series abandoned all hope of trying to say something and instead put a shirtless, jacked Sylvester Stallone in the middle of Afghanistan and told him to kill everything and everyone that moved. In some ways, the method worked as RAMBO III is a lot of fun in that mindless action kind of way. In other ways, it’s sad how far the filmmakers departed from the greatness of FIRST BLOOD.
The mindlessness of RAMBO III is evident in the first five minutes as we open with John Rambo (Stallone) in what looks like an underground stick fighting match. We learn that he’s doing it for money that he gives to his village. Clearly, there’s no other way to earn money than to beat a guy senseless with a stick. Eventually, he’s asked to go rescue Col. Trautman (Crenna), who was captured by the Russians, who are in the middle of invading Afghanistan. Yep, for those that don’t remember, Rambo teams up with the Afghanistan people to defeat the Russians. RAMBO III is a not-so subtle reminder of how much the world has changed since the late 80’s.
The action is clearly dated and more than ridiculous, but it’s also a lot of fun. I remember not understanding why Rambo lit himself on fire when I saw this as a kid, but as an adult, it was a cool movie trick and a nice touch in the middle of the action. The aforementioned stick fighting was also a nice touch, reminding the audience that although Rambo is trying to avoid violence, he doesn’t hesitate to go back to what he’s used to. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the film for giving us one of the most iconic lines in movie history. If you haven’t told anyone in your life that you’re their “worst nightmare”, then you probably weren’t alive in the 80’s. Even without that line, there are a lot of great one-liners sprinkled throughout the film, my favorite being “God would have mercy, he won’t”. Classic.
We can blame a lot of the failure of RAMBO III on RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II since III made about $100 million less than II. The second film tried and failed to have a deeper meaning, but still relied too heavily on Stallone shooting big guns and acting like a superhero. The abandoned the vulnerability John Rambo showed in the first film and by the time the third came along, he was closer to being He-Man than a damaged war veteran. But there’s still something to like in RAMBO III and that’s the culmination of the 80’s mindless action movie where muscular action stars took on entire armies by themselves. Sure, it’s ridiculous, but it’s also fun.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: This is a thirty year-old film, so let’s try to be kind, but I imagine the transfer is going to get a lot of slack for the massive amounts of grain that are noticeable throughout. “Grain” is a risky word to use when talking about video quality since some people insist on seeing the natural film grain and others can’t stand it. But here, the graininess of the film is almost distracting, especially in some of the outdoor shots. That aside, this is the best I’ve seen the film look, especially with closeups and in background detail.
Audio: No Dolby Atmos track, which is disappointing, but it does feature an efficient DTS 5.1 track.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes a hodgepodge of special features found on previous releases, including the DVD’s.