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Rambo III

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Rambo III Movie Poster Image
Graphic war violence in bombastic, clichéd sequel.
  • R
  • 1988
  • 102 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 

Violence

Constant war violence. Prisoners tortured, hung by wrists, electrodes strapped to genitals. Soldiers flying helicopters attack a village, firing machine guns and missiles at civilians. Explosions. Rambo shown tending to especially gory wound in his side, bloody, cauterizing wound with hot knife. Stabbings. Fistfights. Martial arts violence. Children and Afghan rebels hold machine guns and assault rifles. 

Sex
Language

Infrequent profanity. "F--k" used once. "S--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," "hell." 

Consumerism

Coca-Cola signs and a Coca-Cola truck prominently featured. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Beer and alcohol drinking in a bar. Cigarette smoking. Russian antagonist drinks vodka. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rambo III is a 1988 action movie in which Rambo goes into Afghanistan to rescue Colonel Trautman from a Soviet military installation. Expect plenty of war and action movie violence, including torture scenes in which prisoners are hung from their wrists and beaten, or shocked with electrodes strapped to their groin areas. In one graphic scene, Rambo is shown tending to a bloody wound in his side, removing an arrow, and then cauterizing the wound with a heated knife. Soviet helicopters attack an Afghan village, firing machine guns and missiles on civilians. Children and Afghan rebels hold machine guns and assault rifles. "F--k" is used once by Rambo for heightened dramatic effect. Other profanity includes "s--t," "son of a bitch," "damn," and "hell." Some drinking occurs in a bar, and there's cigarette smoking. 

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What's the story?

In RAMBO III, Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is now living in Thailand, living in a Buddhist monastery while making extra money in underground martial arts brawls. Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), after finally tracking Rambo down, asks him to join him on a clandestine mission to supply weapons to the Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets. Weary of war, Rambo refuses. Trautman undertakes the mission anyway, and is captured by the Soviets and held in a formidable Soviet fort. When Rambo is informed of this, he immediately goes to Afghanistan to rescue his friend and mentor. Joined by Afghan rebels, including a gung-ho tween boy, Rambo witnesses Soviet brutality firsthand when Soviet helicopters attack the village where he's staying, indiscriminately killing rebels and civilians alike. Meanwhile, Trautman undergoes torture but refuses to divulge the purpose of his mission, or anything about Rambo when the Soviets discover that Rambo is in the area. With Trautman's life on the line, Rambo must find a way to infiltrate the Soviet base, rescue Trautman, and help eliminate the Soviet presence on Afghan soil. 

Is it any good?

Most third movies in a film franchise are mediocre at best, and this is no exception. While there are some attempts at being thoughtful, of showing the plight, culture, and fighting spirit of the Afghan people, with even a dedication to the Afghan people at the conclusion of Rambo III, all of this is overshadowed by ludicrous levels of action movie bombast and laughable clichés. For instance, when we first meet the evil Soviet colonel, he's sitting at a desk with both a bottle of vodka and a chessboard, because he's Russian. The third act devolves into Rambo and Trautman wisecracking their way through one ludicrous skirmish after another, to the point where any deeper meaning or message is completely forgotten. 

It's a strange movie to watch decades after its release, when the Soviet Union is long gone and so much has transpired in Afghanistan. But even with that contemporary historical baggage, the ultimate problem with Rambo III is that it's just a typical action movie, losing the elements that made the first two Rambo movies stand out. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about action movies. Do movies such as Rambo III glorify and glamorize war and violence? Why or why not?

  • How does this movie reflect the Cold War mentality of the 1980s? 

  • What are some of the action movie clichés used here? 

Movie details

For kids who love action

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