You might not agree with the politics of 'Rambo III,' starring Sylvester Stallone and directed by Peter Macdonald, but you can hardly argue that its reported $60 million budget didn't ended up paying for some pretty dazzling explosions, weaponry and exotic locations.
In this latest addition to the series about the muscle-bound hero, John Rambo takes on the Soviet army in Afghanistan. That premise alone is a little embarrassing, since Soviet troops began their withdrawal from that troubled country just before the national release of 'Rambo III.' But never mind, politics has never been a particularly clearheaded point of the Rambo movies anyway: The hero is a fighter, but a critic of America's various foreign involvements. He hates war but loves to fight. Who can figure?
Rambo says in the beginning of this film designed around spectacle, 'My war is over.' But when his friend, Col. Trautman, played again by Richard Crenna, is captured by the Soviets in Afghanistan, Rambo quickly abandons the peace of a monastery in which he lives and works, dons his muscle T-shirt, head band and 12-inch knife, and goes for it.
It's an amazing adventure, more amazing still because Stallone does all his own stunts in this stunt-filled adventure. He has said in interviews that he was at a low-point emotionally while filming 'Rambo III,' mostly in Israel, and supposedly didn't care what happened to him (his much-publicized breakup with wife Brigitte Nielsen seemed to be on the pages of every supermarket tabloid). It may seem cruel, but his troubles of the heart sure inspired some great action sequences.
Stallone's body is like a sculpture, so finely defined and worked is it. His physical trainer, George Pipasik, gets film credit for his work, and why not? The results are about as awesome as the explosion-a-minute pace of this film.
There's not much dialogue, however. Some wags contend Stallone had less than 200 words to mumble. What little dialogue there is either a wisecrack, or the tough-but-tender variety designed to highlight Rambo's multi-dimensional psyche.
Mostly, 'Rambo III' is one breathtaking sequence after another, with an absolutely mind-boggling scene with Rambo removing a spike from his side, and then sealing the wound with flaming gunpowder.
The audience watching one opening-day screening alternated between whoops, gasps, laughter and applause during the film, and the action that draws that kind of response is what 'Rambo III' delivers rather effectively. You get what you pay for.
This film is rated R. Movie contains violence.