Reported at the time of its making to be the most expensive film ever ($63 million, not including Sylvester Stallone's $20 million salary), RAMBO III wound up in the hands of RAMBO II second-unit director Peter MacDonald on 48 hours notice, following the firing of original director Russell Mulcahey. It begins in Thailand, where John Rambo (Stallone) is tracked down by his colonel, Trautman (Richard Crenna). Trautman invites him to join a
covert mission to deliver Stinger missiles to the mujahedeen combating the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. Mumbling that his "war is over," Rambo declines. When Trautman is caught by the Soviets, however, the warrior can't let the capture of his only friend slide by unanswered. He thus launches a one-man invasion of Afghanistan to rescue Trautman, hooking up with the Afghan rebels in the process. The film soon becomes one long series of huge explosions as Rambo--using his trusty knife, bow with exploding arrows, and whatever weapons he picks up along the way--wipes out scores of Russians in an effort to rescue his buddy and to defeat his nemesis, evil Soviet commander Zaysen (Marc de Jonge). Released in the same month that Soviet troops began to leave Afghanistan, RAMBO III became an instant Gorbachev-era anachronism, its absurd heroics appearing more cartoonish than ever. With an
unusually troubled production history in which many of its crew were fired--mainly due to "differences" with cowriter Stallone--the movie is so rudimentary in concept and presentation that it actually manages to be boring during its lengthy scenes of mass mayhem. Though less offensive than its predecessor, RAMBO III -- which is dedicated to "the gallant people of Afghanistan" -- is still a mindless and uninspired effort.
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