|Directed by||Peter MacDonald|
|Produced by||Buzz Feitshans|
|Based on||John Rambo|
by David Morrell
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Box office||$189 million|
Rambo III is a 1988 American action film directed by Peter MacDonald and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprises his role as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo. A sequel to Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), it is the third installment in the Rambo franchise, followed by Rambo.
The film depicts fictional events during the Soviet–Afghan War. In the film, Rambo sets out on a dangerous journey to Afghanistan in order to rescue his former commander and his longtime best friend, Col. Sam Trautman, from the hands of an extremely powerful and ruthless Soviet Army colonel who is bent on killing both Trautman and Rambo, while helping a local band of Afghan rebels fight against Soviet forces threatening to destroy their village.
Rambo III was released worldwide on May 25, 1988, and grossed $189 million at the box office. With a production budget between $58 and $63 million, Rambo III was the most expensive film ever made at the time.
Three years after the events in Vietnam, John Rambo has settled in a Thai monastery and is helping with construction work on the monastery grounds. He also makes money (which he donates to the monastery) by competing in krabi-krabong matches (using fighting sticks) in nearby Bangkok. Colonel Sam Trautman visits his old friend and ally John Rambo in Thailand. He explains that he is putting together a mercenary team for a CIA-sponsored mission to supply the Mujahideen and other tribes as they try to repel the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Despite being shown photos of civilians suffering at the hands of the Soviet military, Rambo refuses to join, as he is tired of fighting. Trautman proceeds anyway and is ambushed by enemy forces near the border, resulting in all of his men being killed. Trautman is captured and sent to a large mountain base to be interrogated by Soviet Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Sergeant Kourov.
Embassy official Robert Griggs informs Rambo of Col. Trautman's capture but refuses to approve a rescue mission for fear of drawing the United States into the war. Aware that Trautman will die otherwise, Rambo gets permission to undertake a solo rescue on the condition that he will be disavowed in the event of capture or death. Rambo immediately flies to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he intends to convince arms dealer Mousa Ghani to bring him to Khost, the town closest to the Soviet base where Trautman is held captive.
The Mujahideen in the village, led by chieftain Masoud, hesitate to help Rambo free Trautman. Meanwhile, a Soviet informant in Ghani's employ informs the Soviets, who send two attack helicopters to destroy the village. Though Rambo manages to destroy one of them with a turret, the rebels refuse to aid him any further. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo attacks the base and inflicts significant damage before being forced to retreat. Hamid, as well as Rambo, are wounded during the battle and Rambo sends him and Mousa away before resuming his infiltration.
Skillfully evading base security, Rambo reaches and frees Trautman just as he is about to be tortured with a flamethrower. He and Trautman rescue several other prisoners and hijack a Hind gunship helicopter to escape the base. The helicopter is damaged during takeoff and quickly crashes, forcing the escapees to flee across the sand on foot. An attack helicopter pursues Rambo and Trautman to a nearby cave, where Rambo destroys it with an explosive arrow. A furious Zaysen sends Spetsnaz commandos under Kourov to kill them, but they are quickly routed and killed. An injured Kourov attacks Rambo with his bare hands, but is overcome and killed.
As Rambo and Trautman make their way to the Pakistani border, Zaysen and his forces surround them. But before the duo are overwhelmed, Masoud's Mujahideen forces attack the Soviets in a surprise cavalry charge. Despite being wounded, Rambo takes control of a tank and uses it to attack Zaysen's Hind gunship in a head-on battle with both vehicles firing high-calibre machine gun rounds, Rambo firing the tank's main gun and Zaysen unleashing volleys of the Hind's high explosive rockets and missiles. The final charge sees the two vehicles collide, but Rambo survives after firing the tank's main gun after colliding with Zaysen's Hind. At the end of the battle, Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to the Mujahideen and leave Afghanistan.
Main article: List of Rambo characters
Sylvester Stallone later said his original premise of the film "was more in keeping with the theme of Tears of the Sun, but set in Afghanistan."
Bullitt and Red Heat scribe Harry Kleiner was hired to write a draft, but his script was rejected by Stallone.
Several weeks into filming, many of the film's crew were fired including the director of photography and director Russell Mulcahy. Stallone:
The canvas of this movie is so large you have to constantly think 10 scenes ahead. You can't wing it. They didn't go into the Battle of Waterloo not knowing what their strategy would be. Well, this movie is kind of like a cinematic warfare. We have a huge cast and crew (more than 250 people) and tough locations to deal with. Everyone and everything has to coordinate.
Some critics noted that the timing of the movie, with its unabashedly anti-Soviet tone, ran afoul of the opening of Communism to the West under Mikhail Gorbachev, which had already changed the image of the Soviet Union to a substantial degree by the time the movie was finished.
He went to Israel two weeks before me with the task of casting two dozen vicious looking Russian troops. These men were suppose [sic] to make your blood run cold. When I arrived on the set, what I saw was two dozen blond, blue-eyed pretty boys that resembled rejects from a surfing contest. Needless to say Rambo is not afraid of a little competition but being attacked by third rate male models could be an enemy that could overwhelm him. I explained my disappointment to Russell and he totally disagreed, so I asked him and his chiffon army to move on.
Mulcahy was replaced by Peter MacDonald, a veteran second unit director. It was MacDonald's first film as director but he was very experienced and had directed the second unit action sequences in Rambo: First Blood Part II. MacDonald later said, "I tried very hard to change the Rambo character a bit and make him a vulnerable and humorous person, I failed totally." "I knew instinctively what was a good and bad shot," he added. "Stallone knew his character because it was his third outing as Rambo. I wasn't shooting Shakespeare and at times it was hard to take it seriously." MacDonald shot the stick fighting sequence in Bangkok himself using a handheld camera.
The character Masoud, played by Greek actor Spiros Focás, was named after Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Massoud who fought the USSR and later the Taliban.
The film was shot in Israel, Thailand, and Arizona. MacDonald:
There were so many restrictions in Israel, where you could and couldn't shoot. The producers and Stallone decided they would go back to Arizona where they had looked long before I was on the film. There was a group there called the re-enactors. We had around two hundred and fifty of these guys who re-enact the American Civil War. They were called on to do fight sequences, which they loved.
|Rambo III: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Film score by|
|Jerry Goldsmith chronology|
An extensive film score was written by Oscar-winning American composer Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; however, much of it was not used. Instead, much of the music Goldsmith penned for the previous installment was recycled. The original album, released by Scotti Bros., contained only a portion of the new music as well as three songs, only one of which was used in the film (Bill Medley's version of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", played over the end credits).
A more complete 75-minute version of the score was later released by Intrada.
Potentially owing to the proximity of its release to the Hungerford massacre, one minute and five seconds of footage was removed from the film before it could be granted an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification; the amount of deletions was then nearly tripled for its initial video release. Almost all of this footage was restored to the film upon video submission in 2000, aside from a compulsory cut for animal cruelty.
Rambo III was released on DVD on November 23, 2004, and a Blu-Ray release followed on May 23, 2008. Rambo III was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on November 13, 2018.
Rambo III opened in the United States on May 25, 1988 at 2,562 theatres in its opening weekend (the four-day Memorial Day weekend), ranking #2 behind Crocodile Dundee II. Overall, the film grossed $53,715,611 domestically and then took $135,300,000 overseas, giving Rambo III a box office total of $189,015,611. The film underperformed at the box-office.
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
The film scored a 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 36 reviews and with an average rating of 4.60/10. The site's critical consensus states that "Rambo III finds its justice-dispensing hero far from the thoughtful drama that marked the franchise's beginning -- and just as far from quality action thriller entertainment." Metacritic gives the film a rating of 36 out of 100 based on 15 critic reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Prominent critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were split on Rambo III, with Siskel awarding the film "thumbs up", and Ebert declaring "thumbs down" for those expecting more out of Rambo III. Ebert did give "thumbs up" to fans, saying the film was entertaining and that it "delivers the goods".
The New York Times took a dim view of the film.
In West Germany, the Deutsche Film- und Medienbewertung (FBW), a government film rating office whose ratings influence financial support to filmmakers, earned criticism after it awarded a "worthwhile" rating (in German: wertvoll) to Rambo III.
The 1990 The Guinness Book of World Records deemed Rambo III the most violent film ever made, with 221 acts of violence, at least 70 explosions, and over 108 characters killed on-screen. The body count of the fourth film in the series, Rambo, surpassed that record, with 236 kills. The Mi-24 Hind-D helicopters seen in the film are modified Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma transport helicopters with fabricated bolt-on wings similar to the real Hind-Ds which were mainly used in the former Eastern Bloc. The other helicopter depicted is a slightly reshaped Aerospatiale Gazelle.
Some commentators have stated that the dedication at the end of the film has been altered at various points in response to the September 11 attacks. Specifically an urban myth claims that the dedication was (at one point) "to the brave Mujahideen fighters" and then later changed to "to the gallant people of Afghanistan". Reviews of the film upon its release and later publications show that the film was always dedicated "to the gallant people of Afghanistan".
|Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Actor||Sylvester Stallone||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Richard Crenna||Nominated|
|Worst Picture||Mario Kassar||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Peter MacDonald||Nominated|
Main article: Rambo (2008 film)
A sequel titled Rambo, was released in 2008.
David Morrell, author of First Blood, the novel the first Rambo film is based on, wrote a novelization called Rambo III.
A comic book adaptation of the film was published by Blackthorne Publishing. Blackthorne also published a 3D version of its Rambo III comic.
Various companies released video games based on the film, including Ocean Software and Taito. In 1990, Sega released its own game based on the film for the Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive. Sega later adapted some of the battle scenes in the film for the 2008 arcade game Rambo. In 2014, the film was incorporated into Rambo: The Video Game, based on the first three Rambo films.
Rambo III (1988) cost a then-record $58 million.
[T]he ending quote of Rambo III glorifies the Afghan nation: "This film is dedicated to the gallant people of Afghanistan." This dedication appeared in the film only after 9/11. Prior to that, the film concluded with the phrase "This film is dedicated to the brave Mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan," which proves that the U.S. was on the side of the mujahideen, supporting them in the war against the Soviet Army.
The credits of the original release included the line 'Dedicated to the brave mujahideen fighters', but after 9/11 this was quietly changed to 'Dedicated to the gallant people of Afghanistan'.