[box cover]

Rambo III: Special Edition

The Rambo Trilogy

  • First Blood: Special Edition
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II: Special Edition
  • Rambo III: Special Edition
  • Rambo Trilogy Special Edition DVD Collection
  • If you needed any evidence that the First Blood series was years ahead of its time, look beyond the frighteningly big hairdos to 1988's Rambo III. The soft-spoken title hero, played by Sylvester Stallone, steps out from his self-exile amongst a sect of Thai Buddhist monks to the mean mountains of Afghanistan, where he teams up with the friendly Mujihaddine to break the will of the Soviet Union and rescue former mentor Col. Trautman who was captured while running a covert op. This third and (as of yet) last installment in the Rambo saga failed to match the box-office brawn of its predecessor (its domestic take didn't even cover its extravagant $63 million budget; it recovered internationally, however), as the Afghani conflict failed to resonate with the American public and the withering Soviet Union was on its way out as a credible adversary. But with the American military's dismantling of the Taliban government at the dawn of a new century, Rambo's early presence there is diverting, if not exactly enlightening. The Mujihaddine are portrayed as a rough-if-friendly gaggle of principled freedom fighters who need a little bit of Rambo-style ass-kicking to reclaim their country from the communist infidels. Although there are a few nice action pieces, most are rehashed from the earlier films, and the addition of occasional quippy banter between Rambo and Trautman is unwelcome. Perhaps the most interesting touch in this tired finale is Giorgio Moroder and Bill Medley's cover of "He Ain't Heavy (He's My Brother)" running over the end titles. Artisan's Rambo III: Special Edition is given a first-class anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) on one side of the disc and a pan-and-scan treatment (1.33:1) on the other. Audio is available in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Included is a commentary by freshman director Peter MacDonald and the new documentary Afghanistan: Land in Crisis (described as "An in-depth look at Rambo's fictitious involvement in Afghanistan, in light of America's role almost 20 years later"), which is less fatuous and more interesting than it sounds. Also on board is a trailer.
    —Gregory P. Dorr

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