Now on 4K UHD Blu-ray: ‘Rambo III’ Goes Beyond Absurdity Into Tragic Irony

GameStop, Inc.

Rambo III

Over the past two days we’ve looked at the evolution of John Rambo from First Blood to Rambo: First Blood Part II. After all, it’s fascinating to observe how a character that was rooted in a critique of American militarism became the avatar for American militarism. It’s not something that just happens over the course of a single film. First Blood Part II was step towards making John Rambo a figure of rampant jingoism and its massive success ensured that Rambo III would push the character over the edge. Once again, Rambo will go head-to-head against the Soviet Union. This time, it’s personal. And this time, it’s in the rocky terrain of Afghanistan.

After the events of First Blood Part II, where he relitigated the Vietnam War and took on the Soviets, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has settled in Thailand where he lives the quiet life. He’s taken up residence in a monastery where he helps with repairs. To pass the time and to earn a little spare cash, Rambo has taken up the hobby of stick fighting, where he pummels his opponents while drunken yahoos bet on the outcome. Finally, after all these years, John Rambo is at peace.

In John Rambo’s world, peace is short-lived and it’s only a matter of time before Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) tracks down his former super-soldier to ask him to take up arms once again for the good ol’ red, white, and blue. Along with a CIA liaison Robert Griggs (Kurtwood Smith), Trautman tries to get Rambo on board for a mission into Afghanistan, where Soviet forces have invaded and unleashed a reign of brutal terror on the simple Afghan people. At first, Rambo refuses because he’s enjoying his quiet life surrounded by monks and stick fighting. When Trautman goes into Afghanistan and is taken prisoner by the Russians, John Rambo gets locked and loaded for a one-man mission to win the impossible fight.

Stallone rips the story from the day’s headlines as the Soviets did invade Afghanistan in 1979 and the conflict lasted for nearly a decade, concluding in 1989 – less than a year after Rambo’s third adventure took him the war-torn nation. In this fantasy rooted in reality we see Rambo team up with mujahideen soldiers battling their invaders. This includes local elders and even a single child soldier.

There’s a hint of tragic irony to the film, as in one scene where a captured Colonel Trautman lambasts his Soviet captor Colonel Alexi Zaysen (Marc de Jonge) for entering into their own Vietnam as invaders of Afghanistan are historically unsuccessful. Just over a decade later after the events of 9/11, America invaded Afghanistan. The heroes portrayed in Rambo III became foes. Now it was America, once again, stuck in an endless war of attrition in a hostile region without a John Rambo to ensure victory. American forces have been in Afghanistan longer than the Soviets.

This third go-round for Stallone as Rambo, all of which he co-wrote, is the most absurd of a series defined by its escalating absurdity. John Rambo is able to evade Soviet helicopters blasting bullets and missiles from the sky as he rides on horseback. You know, the kind of grounded realism you’d expect in film ripped from the day’s headlines. The film’s insane conclusion has John Rambo taking on a helicopter in a tank. This should be dumb fine like its predecessor and yet it doesn’t cohere.

First Blood Part II was and is far enough removed from the Vietnam War that time combined with the maximalist direction of George Cosmatos makes the film absurd escapist fun. Today, as America is still entangled in military conflict in Afghanistan, it’s hard to find Rambo III as effective escapism. Part of that is the flat direction by Peter MacDonald, who was a late replacement for the fired Russel Mulcahy. There’s a kind of journeyman’s indifference to the film’s direction, one that doesn’t wow nor does it distract with incompetence. That’s not entirely the fault of MacDonald as Rambo III was made when Stallone’s star and ego was at its highest and the co-writer and star exerted control over his projects. You could see Peter MacDonald, who was mainly a second unit director, wouldn’t want to make waves on the set of his blockbuster directorial debut.

In First Blood, Rambo was a man weary of war, a man whose scars were on his body and his mind. The first film in the Rambo saga is a searing indictment of American institutions and how they warp masculinity with no thought of the cost. First Blood Part II saw Rambo returning to the horrors of his past and fighting the past in the present. It’s absurd, violent revisionist history. It’s in Rambo III that the formerly weary super-soldier enters into a whole new fray, taking on Russian enemies in a new foreign land. At this point, the pain of the past has left the muscular, sweaty body of John Rambo. Rambo III came as Ronald Reagan was in his last term in office and yet proved to a fitting conclusion to the Morning in America. New battles and new wars were on the horizon. The nation thought itself full of that John Rambo moxie. We’re still waiting for John Rambo to win this war.

Rambo III
  • Overall Score


An absurdist adventure into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, Rambo III ignores the character’s roots as war-ravaged veteran and fully embraces its macho jingoism as John Rambo becomes the face of American militaristic interventionism.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three’ – Leaves us Wanting More! – Spoiler Free Review

‘Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths – Part Three‘ is a...

‘Lumina’ is a Incredible First for Debuting Director, Gino McKoy – Review

‘Lumina‘ is an incredible concept and an exceptional first run for...

Aaron Augenblick Returns for Season 2 of ‘City Island’ on PBS KIDS – Interview

Acclaimed Animator, Aaron Augenblick Returns with a Second Season of ‘City...

Event News Event Reviews
The ‘California Dreams’ Band Reunite on The Sunset Strip For a Night of 90s Nostalgia – Concert Review

Don’t Wake Me Up if I’m Dreaming, The ‘California Dreams‘ Band...

Jay Anthony Franke Talks California Dreams Reunion Concert in LA – Interview

Jay Anthony Franke Talks About The ‘California Dreams‘ Reunion Concert in...

‘An Inspector Calls’ Challenges the Morals of the Bourgeois – Review

‘An Inspector Calls‘ Challenges the Morals and Ethics of the Bourgeois...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Derek Gumin Talks Planet 13 and UFC 303 Meet and Greets – Interview

Director of Wholesale Accounts at Planet 13, Derek Gumin spoke about...

Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – Blood on the Cactus, Endgame


Fantoy Comics Presents: A 4th of July Message!

Seriously, America, THIS crap?!?!?

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse: Blood on the cactus pt 4 (?)

There are some weird guys here that want invest in a...

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Billy Eddy Talks His new Book ‘Our New World of Adult Bullies’ – Interview

Lawyer, Mediator and Personality Expert Bill Eddy Provides a Six-Step Strategy...

Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...