"Rambo III" is ridiculous. The movie opens with the suit-up scene. Let's just get that out of the way right off the bat. But I was curious to see if it had yet another suit-up in it closer to the climax. It doesn't. But before I knew that, I pretty much had to fast-forward through the entire movie. I considered it a trip down memory lane, as I don't think I've seen this movie in over a decade.
First, try and digest the plot: John Rambo's friend and former boss, Colonel Trautman (played by the late Richard Crenna) gets captured by the Russians, while freedom fighting in Afghanistan. Rambo has to then go rescue him. Only he won't do it alone. He'll have help from a plucky group of renegade fighters that live in the desert and are led by Omar Shariff. We know them today... as the Taliban!
Yes, John Rambo, the 1980's symbol of the American hero, single-handedly fighting the Cold War, teamed up with the ragtag gang that would, thirteen years later, declare war on America soil by blowing up the Twin Towers on 9.11. How's that for morbid irony?
But that's not the extent of the ridiculous-ness. Ohhh, no. Not by a long shot. This movie is so sadistic, I'm shocked that the filmmakers weren't admitted into deep therapy after. Richard Crenna spends about 45 mins of the film's total running time being hung up and tortured by the evil Russians.
The Russians themselves are led by the steely-eyed, 5 O'clock-shadowed, terror of a General who, not only does all the aforementioned torturing, but also flies the Cobra helicopter that wipes out most of the Afghan villages in the movie. This guy's the definition of a 1980's movie villain. And God love him for it.
The movie climaxes with Rambo in a Russia tank, charging the evil General who's flying his favorite helicopter. It's a game of chicken, that neither man will bow down from. And so they collapse in a hail of fire and shrapnel. And guess who emerges?
But let's back up, shall we? Because like the rest of the film that follows it, the opening scene.... the suit-up scene, is equally ridiculous. Richard Crenna and government lackey, Griggs (played by the always nefarious, Kurtwood Smith) are in Thailand to track down Rambo for a mission. As they prowl the streets of the city, questioning local civilians while waving a picture of our hero around, we juxtapose the sequence with Rambo suiting up.
We see close-ups of a hand being wrapped in some sort of glove. Every time we cut to this, the score does a hysterically cheesy "Bouaaaaaammmmm!" keyboard stroke. Great stuff. John Carpenter would be proud. The humbled faces of young Thai children stare on, aiding Rambo in this ritual. But a ritual for what? Are we seeing a mirror of the suit-up scene from "Rambo II"? Are these gloved hands about to pick up a bow and arrow and go blow shit up?
No, and that's where the "minor genius" of this scene rears its clever head. For as Rambo ties his trademark red bandanna around his greasy hair, he turns around (hero shot!) and approaches his destination.
No, not a battlefield. Not a prison camp. Not even a helicopter.
But a blood sport-esque fighting pit. Yes, the filmmakers have tricked us! Rambo is suiting-up to go clack batons with a crazy local.
Who's your money on?