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FORGOTTEN TRIUMPH OF 'RAMBO' W/ BONUS 'RAMBO III' REVIEW

Sylvester Stallone as RAMBO not Cobra circa 2008
RAMBO: An eighty-minute film, while quite rare, is a perfect running-time for action, especially one as ultra-violent since the high definition CGI massacres can only be "enjoyed" so much...

And this forgotten modern sequel of the iconic franchise is a sparse, solidly entertaining blood & guts "get the job done quick" flick where John Rambo, along with a group of eclectic (and enjoyably whiny) mercenaries, are hired to save a group of do-gooders including Julie Benz wielding a quaint, genuine chemistry with Stallone. They're kidnapped by "Burmese Pirates" and all in Vietnam, where it all began even before FIRST BLOOD — and John J. goes in, kills the bad guys and leaves, so, in this case, less is not only more, it's just enough. And should have ended right here.

Richard Crenna and Sly Stallone YEAR: 1988
RAMBO III: When the title appears, the music pounds energetically, leading fans to believe this is just what the doctor ordered. Then we begin with a heavy metal long-haircut John Rambo having a stick fight inside an Asian club...

There's a bit of irony as afterward, our famously violent hero helps peaceful monks build their monastery...

Here's when Colonel  "Good Supply of Body Bags" Trautman, famously portrayed by Richard Crenna, seeks his own personal ex-killing machine for a mission in Afghanistan. Russia's taking over the country, exploiting the villagers, and it's up to Rambo to help. Initially John J. refuses; that is, until Trautman himself is captured and taken to a Russian-run Afghan prison... then he's got no choice in the matter.

Sylvester Stallone rides in Rambo III Score: **
RAMBO OF ARABIA is, for the most part, a ponderous ride. Without a forest setting like FIRST BLOOD or a jungle terrain from RAMBO, we have lots of sand and no real change of scenery (perhaps this is why Vietnam movies work better than, say, later on, Iraq war films)...

After hearing exposition dialogue by a local sidekick, then a speech by none other than Omar Shariff — all having survived an air assault — Rambo rescues his mentor way too easily, and that's about it: Tons of machine gun deaths and the bloody stuff that made the first two work, but without the adventurous fun — although there are sporadic attempts at humor as Rambo and Trautman go back and forth like Rocky Balboa and his trainer Mickey, but it's just not fitting here. And battling the evil Russians while celebrating the sovereign people of Afghanistan... talk about dated!

Sylvester Stallone in RAMBO aka John Rambo aka Rambo IV
Sylvester Stallone in RAMBO from 2008
Julie Benz in RAMBO from 2008
Julie Benz and Sylvester Stallone in RAMBO
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