Rambo III (1988)
By: Devon B. on September 1, 2013 | Comments
Optimum | Region A, B | 2.35:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 102 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Peter MacDonald
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Marc de Jonge, Kurtwood Smith, Spiros Focas
Screenplay: Sylvester Stallone, Sheldon Lettich
Country: USA
This time, Trautman and the bad guy from Robocop are looking to enlist the services of Rambo for a mission in Afghanistan, but Rambo has changed his ways…and his hair. He now looks like Michael Bolton. Rambo hasn't completely changed his ways, really, since he still earns money beating people up with sticks, but he refuses the mission. Trautman decides to prove he's no longer a master soldier by failing the mission and getting captured. Trautman's capture seems to be what it takes to get Rambo out of semi-retirement, and he's off to Afghanistan to save his mentor.

Rambo III is easily the least of the series for a few reasons, but one of the main ones is it's essentially Rambo: First Blood Part II in a different location. Once again Rambo's on a mission to save detained military personnel and ends up taking on a whole army. There are some differences to the formula, but they're not improvements. The big thing altered is that Rambo was always a loner, aside from his brief love interest in the previous film. I don't think Rambo has to be a loner because eventually he would become part of a team in the far more successful Rambo (4), but in this outing he's teamed with a kid. I guess after the cartoon series it made sense to the studio that he should have a child sidekick like he was Indiana Jones, but the kid is really out of place here, and I found him distracting and annoying. Rambo probably didn't need a little helper because his skill set has improved again, despite the fact he's no longer in the jungle environment he's so familiar with.

Rambo III is even more heavy handed than its predecessors, and really could've used some tightening. It's okay, but it's also not very noteworthy. Until I rewatched it, all I could remember was the horseback game they play and that Rambo performs some frontline surgery on himself, as opposed to the other films where I remembered heaps. The disparity may also be partly due to the fact that I have not seen Rambo III as much as the first two, but that's just a further indication that it's not as engaging.

Stallone has said that he was trying to show the issues in Afghanistan with this movie, and draw parallels between the films because Afghanistan was Russia's Vietnam. He admits the film is flawed, but at least it was a learning curve for him that prepared him for the far better follow up.
The Disc

Easily the best looking of the initial series in the Optimum line, this is a solid transfer with nice detail. There's a little edge enhancement and some black crush, but overall the film looks good and even pops at times. Dragging the Blu-ray back down is another front heavy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 remix, a track where the rears aren't even really used for crowd scenes. Some gunfire has a little direction, but I didn't really notice anything else utilising the full soundstage. As with the first two films, different subtitles are available depending on which region is selected on start up, but choosing Australia means there're no subs available. Once again, the nonexistent language of "Mexican" appears to have a subtitle option.

Like Troma with The Radiation March, Optimum have definitely overused this same interview with Stallone in Paris in 2008. It seems highly unlikely that someone would only buy Rambo III, so people will probably already have this extra. I know I did. Twice over.

The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Rambo III was not a great final instalment, so it was good Stallone was able to revitalise the series with a much better ending for the character. With one redundant extra this Blu-ray isn't fantastic, but the picture quality is good and it might be a while before a better HD transfer comes along.
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