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Rambo 3 (1988) – Special Edition DVD Review

Rambo 3 Special Edition DVD cover art


Written by: Sheldon Lettich & Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: Peter MacDonald
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Marc de Jonge, Kurtwood Smith, Spiros Focás


  • Running audio commentary with director MacDonald
  • Documentary: “Afghanistan: Land in Crisis”
  • Production notes
  • Cast and crew info
  • Theatrical trailer

Released by: Artisan
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Skip it.

[ad#longpost]John Rambo (Stallone) has taken up a life in Thailand working and living in a monastery with Buddhist monks and fighting on the side to earn a little extra cash. His old buddy and commanding officer, Colonel Trautman (Crenna) has one last mission for him. Trautman wants Rambo to help get a remote band of rebels in Afghanistan the weapons they need to help win the war against Russia. When Rambo refuses, Trautman takes his small group in anyway and gets captured. Rambo finds out about this and decides to go in and rescue his friend from the Russian prison where he is being held.

Well, again it’s Rambo against a full army of men, and…I don’t think I’m spoiling anybody’s party when I tell you he winds up kicking a lot of arse. Honestly, this movie should have never been made. The first film was made to do the veterans of Vietnam the honor they deserved. What they have done is taken that character and placed him in a unrealistic situation and have him come through and win against, literally, all odds. The dialogue is horrendous, and the screenplay can’t decide whether it’s going to be a rescue movie or a buddy film.

Sylvester Stallone is John Rambo and Richard Crenna is Col. Trautman in Rambo 3

For example, when Rambo finally gets Trautman out of the prison, the dialogue switches completely into “buddy film” mode; where the buddy sets up the main character for a bold, yet slightly funny punchline. If Stallone felt so strongly about the Afghanistan conflict, he should have made a movie about that and done those people justice, instead of making it a…well, a Rambo movie.

The DVD, however, does this film more justice than it deserves. The documentary goes into the history of the Russian-Afghani war in more detail than the film ever could have tried to. What is really great about it is that it goes into the history of how the Taliban came into power after the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989. In some ways, this feels like they are trying to tie the movie into the U.S.S. Cole attack and the events of September 11, and to be completely honest, it is difficult to watch this movie now without having those images rush to the front of your mind.

The commentary by Peter MacDonald is sparse. MacDonald doesn’t seem to take the film too seriously, which, depending on how you look at it, is either good or bad. It can be taken as bad for the movie, or good for the director that he didn’t try to make anything other than an action movie. The Production Notes are filled mostly with comments about how tight security was with Stallone on location in Israel and how dangerous this film was for him to make. Some people really get into that stuff, but I think it’s silly. You’d think that after spending as much money as they do making these movies, they could find a way to make these dangerous looking stunts very safe for the actors.

I guess it’s worth watching given today’s perspective on the situation in Afghanistan, but it’s definitely not worth adding to the shelf permanently.

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