Rambo III stakes out a moral high ground for its hero missing or obscured in the previous two pictures. In the Soviets’ heinous nine-year occupation of Afghanistan, this mythic commando and quintessential outsider is enlisted in a cause that – glasnost notwithstanding – is indisputably righteous.
Indeed, as this chapter opens, the character of John Rambo has been demilitarized and transported to exotic self-exile in Thailand, where he lives in a Buddhist monastery and supports himself by engaging in slam-bang mercenary martial arts contests.
Richard Crenna has come halfway around the world to Bangkok to ask Stallone for payback – Rambo’s participation in a clandestine operation to destroy a ‘brutal’ Russian general who rules a remote province in occupied Afghanistan.
The battle scenes in Rambo III are explosive, conflagratory tableaux that make for wrenching, frequently terrifying viewing. Always at ground zero in the chaos is Rambo – gloriously, inhumanly impervious to fear and danger – whose character is inhabited by Stallone with messianic intensity.