Monday, June 21, 2010

Rambo: First Blood, Part III

Rambo: First Blood Part III is a solid action film that is victim of circumstance. It carries on the tradition of the dirty, rotten atheist Soviets as the ultimate in unredeemable, one-dimensional villains, but it does so in 1988, a time when the Cold war was thawing and we were not quite so quick to demonize those behind the Iron Curtain.

The soviets were also rapidly losing the war in Afghanistan. While I certain applaud the war in Afghanistan as the backdrop for the movie--they were not many Hollywood productions calling attention to the conflict--it did come too little, too late. These days, one’s perspective is altered as well wondering how many of the Afghan rebels who fought alongside became northern Alliance allies to the united states and which became sympathetic to the Taliban.

See? Bad timing.

Otherwise, part three is the most enjoyable of the three action movie sequels to the original psychological thriller. At one poit, it hel the Guiness Book of World Records title for the most violent film ever, with 236 separate acts of violence ad 110 people killed onscreen. The title has since been handed off--to Rambo, the fourth and final film in the franchise.

For whatever reason, the violence does not bother me as much here as in part two. I am not certain why. Much of it, particularly some sadistic torture scenes and a self-cauterization, done by Rambo, are some of the most graphic I have seen in a big budget movie. Perhaps it is because the movie presents the plight of the Afghans, something I had been watching on the even news for years by the time the movie was released, resonated with me more than revenge fantasies about Vietnam. There seems to be more of a point to it here rather than the bloodlust satisfaction of the last one.

Thankfully, this is the last time we see Trautman. Again, he is bursting with pride over how screwed up he has made Rambo, assuring him he needs to go on this mission to find stolen Stinger missiles because he is awar machine, not someone who needs to be seeking inner peace and redemption in a monastery. To his credit, Rambo refuses, but is drawn into the conflict once Trautman is captured by theSoviets. Rambo rationalizes he has to rescue his former CO because he would do it for him, even though Trautman sat on his hands when he got captured I the previous film.

The rescue gets personal win the Soviets slaughter a camp of Afghan rebels will a helicopter that Rambo manages to take down unbelievably with a bow and arrow. What follows is two--count ’em, two--assaults on a prison fortress, an exciting battle sequence in dark, underground caves, and a take duel before it is all over and Rambo and Trautman can ride of into the peaceful local of beautiful…Pakistan.

I think this film hits all the marks the best since the original. It isa good action movie, not too dumb, not too serious. Its heart is in the right place and it gets stabbed through with a knife in the name of freedom. What more could you ask for--besides better timing?
Rating: *** (out of 5)

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