Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

The next day, Zaysen heads out in his huge attack chopper, while troops search the caves for Rambo. There’s no sign of him, mainly because he’s Rambo, but also because he’s scaling the cliff, which the base somehow overlooks. It’s an arduous climb, but he makes it up and sneaks up on a guard, killing him (37) and restarting the bloodbath.

Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

Back in the prison area, Trautman is being menaced by a guard with a flamethrower, who cackles a bit too long, allowing Rambo to knife him from behind. Rambo frees Trautman and kills another guard, but for some reason misses killing the traitorous guy from the gun store, even though he’s just standing right there. Maybe the filmmakers felt he should only kill Russians in this movie.

Still, 39 and counting. Let’s move on. Rambo gives another guard a forearm to the throat, and I guess you could call a crushed trachea a kill, which gets us to 40. He frees some prisoners, and he and Trautman lead them out as the base swarms with Russian soldiers.

The article continues after these advertisements...

The Trautman and Rambo Comedy Tour begins as Trautman asks if Rambo can fly a helicopter that’s currently landing, to which Rambo replies, “Let’s find out.” He runs over and knocks the chopper pilot out, and leads the freed prisoners and Trautman onboard.

As Rambo takes off, Zaysen comes out with a machine gun, firing madly. Rambo flies the chopper, while Trautman takes out some guys with the machine gun mounted in the doorway.

After one of the prisoners is killed, Rambo fires machine guns and a rocket at a tower, taking out three guys (43). The chopper starts to lose power, and Rambo crash lands a ways from the base. The freed prisoners head for shelter, and Trautman and Rambo are on their own.

Of course, before this happens, we get the obligatory shot of Stallone running from an explosion as the chopper blows up. Come to think of it, there’s one shot like that earlier in the film, and another in a few minutes, so this film really spoils the avid Stallone fan.

Caption contributed by Ed

Wouldn’t be a Stallone film without this.

Zaysen tells all of his men to get ready, and we next find Rambo and Trautman running across the desert. They stop to rest behind some rocks, and Trautman asks Rambo how he’s doing.

Trautman: How’s the wound?
Rambo: You taught us to ignore pain, didn’t you?
Trautman: Is it working?
Rambo: Not really. Don’t take it personally.
Trautman: Thanks.

I have to say I like these moments. I’ll take a humorous, humanizing moment over incoherent blubbering any day. Given the right situation, Stallone can be very funny. Just don’t put him in a movie with Estelle Getty.

Rambo hears approaching helicopters, and Trautman goes off in search of cover, while Rambo assembles his bow. One of things about this franchise I’ve always enjoyed is the fact that often, Rambo will break out the archery set to take out the bad guys. It’s a nice change of pace.

Add in explosive arrows, and I’m as happy as a pig in mud.

Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

Our first victim of getting blown up real good is a helicopter with probably two guys onboard (45 and counting), and I love Trautman’s tired yet shocked reaction to this. You can tell this is something Rambo came up with on his own.

Zaysen fires at Rambo, who dives down into a cave with Trautman. Rambo drops down into the hole as a bunker-buster bomb is dropped, so we get another “running from the explosion” shot as the two men find cover. Trautman asks how he is, allowing Rambo to make a “well done” wisecrack.

Why, yes, this film was made after Arnold Schwarzenegger began to eclipse Stallone as the world’s top action star. Why do you ask?

A bunch of soldiers come down after them, so Rambo and Trautman split up. After taking one guy out (46), Rambo grabs his radio to hear Zaysen calling for an update. Time for another iconic line.

Zaysen: Who are you?
Rambo: Your worst nightmare.

Two more go down, and it turns out the huge guard’s name is Kourov. Don’t blame me; Zaysen finally gives us the name right after Rambo’s kill total is upped to 48. Rambo quickly gets it up to 51, and is almost shot, but luckily, Trautman bloodily ventilates another soldier who was about to get the drop on him.

As Zaysen flies around, Trautman heads for the exit. Rambo then takes out three more guys with one arrow. Good thing the arrows blow up, otherwise this would just be silly.

Rambo climbs out of the hole, where he’s met by a not quite dead Kourov. They have a nice fight that ends with one of the most spectacularly over the top deaths I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to spoil it. Let’s just say it involves a rope, a grenade minus one pin, and a real big explosion.

Hell of a way to get to 55, eh?

Caption contributed by Ed

This is what happens when you put a compulsive hugger in the army.

Rambo and Trautman make their way down the hill, only to be stopped by Zaysen, his attack chopper, and the rest of his troops. Needless to say, they’re in deep shit.

Stuck for a plan, Rambo notes that “Surrounding them is out,” while Zaysen orders them to surrender. With no other options, Rambo growls out, “Fuck ‘em!”

He fires a grenade, hitting a truck and upping his total to probably 60, if you allow for one driver and maybe a few passengers.

A huge, utterly ridiculous shootout ensues, with the heroes amazingly not getting hit. A shitload of bad guys do though, with Rambo getting up to about 68 before the rebels come riding to the rescue. Yes, after almost an hour on the bench, the vaunted Afghani warriors are coming in to close things out. Well, better late than never, I suppose.

Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

The shootout continues, with Rambo getting up to 82 kills, until he’s knocked off his horse, and loses the Molotov cocktail he was holding, and gets shot in the leg. Just as before, this only pisses him off, and he kills two guys on a tank, before getting in the tank himself and squaring off against Zaysen in his chopper. The mad Russian colonel (God, I love that phrase) fires at Rambo, but of course, he misses horribly with every shot.

Trautman, who’s gotten to a mounted machine gun after being shot in the shoulder, has been taking out plenty of soldiers on his own (how the hell did he get captured if he’s this much of a badass?). He takes out Zaysen’s gunner, and it’s now just him and Rambo.

They trade shots, and Rambo riddles Zaysen’s co-pilot with bullets from the tank’s machine gun. Finally, Rambo rams the tank into the window of the chopper. I think he fires the big gun as well, because the chopper goes up in a huge fireball, making Rambo’s final kill tally an impressive 86. Sure, it’s nothing compared to the Governator in Commando, but that’s a story for another day.

Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

There’s a brief coda with Rambo saying his farewells, and one last bit of joking between Rambo and Trautman, and we’re done, with a title card dedicating the film to the “gallant” people of Afghanistan. The end titles roll, while we hear a cover of “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” sung by Bill Medley. It’s an odd choice, but I have to say, it beats the hell out of having Frank Stallone sing over the end titles like he did for the second film.

Rambo III (1988) (part 4 of 4)

The movie ended up underperforming at the box office, but it did get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most violent movie ever at the time, with 108 killings, including the 86 Rambo racks up. And strangely enough, director Peter MacDonald later went on to direct NeverEnding Story III.

For the first fifty minutes or so, this is definitely one of the crappier action movies I’ve seen, and given that I sat through Red Scorpion for nobody but myself, that is saying a lot. Thankfully, it picks up considerably before the end, and it’s well worth a look, provided your fast forward button is fully functional.

It’s goofy, cheesy as hell, and the political subtext can be easily ignored. In other words, it’s a Sylvester Stallone movie from the ‘80s.

Before we go, your moment of Zen. A highlight reel from Rambo III.


Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Rambo III (1988)

You may also like...