Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter MacDonald|
|Produced by||Buzz Feitshans
Andrew G. Vajna
|Screenplay by||Sylvester Stallone
by David Morrell
Marc de Jonge
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||O. Nicholas Brown
James R. Symons
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||101 min.|
|Budget||$62 million |
Rambo III is an American action film released on May 25, 1988. The film depicts fictional events during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It is the third film in the Rambo series following First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II. It was in turn followed by Rambo in 2008, making it the last film in the series to feature Richard Crenna as Colonel Sam Trautman before his death in 2003. However, Crenna does appear in the final Rambo film in flashbacks.
One minute of the movie was censored in the United Kingdom.
Colonel Sam Trautman returns to Thailand to once again enlist the help of Vietnam veteran John J. Rambo. After witnessing Rambo win a stick fighting match, Trautman visits Rambo at a Buddhist temple under construction and asks Rambo to join him on a resupply mission for mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan. Despite showing him photos of civilians suffering under Soviet military intervention, Rambo refuses and Trautman proceeds with the mission. Soviet forces ambush Trautman's convoy, capture him, and send him to a mountain base to be interrogated by Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Kourov.
Rambo learns of Trautman's capture from embassy field officer Robert Griggs and convinces the official to take him through a clandestine operation. Rambo immediately flies to Peshawar, Pakistan and coerces arms supplier Mousa Ghani to bring him to Khost, a town in southern Afghanistan close to the Soviet base where Trautman is jailed. The mujahideen in the village, led by chieftain Masoud, are already hesitant to help Rambo in the first place, but are definitely convinced not to help him when their village is attacked by Soviet helicopters after one of Mousa's shop assistants tips off the Soviets. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his plan to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and Hamid and Rambo are wounded in the process while fighting a number of Russian troops. After escaping from the base, Rambo tends to Hamid's wounds and sends him and Mousa away to safety, before cauterizing his own wound.
Rambo recovers and infiltrates the base again the following day, just in time to rescue Trautman from being tortured with a flamethrower. He and Trautman rescue several other prisoners and hijacks a Hind helicopter to escape the base. However, the helicopter is damaged as it departs and soon crashes, forcing Rambo and Trautman to continue on foot. Zaysen sends Kourov and a Spetsnaz team against the two, who easily eliminate them in a cave. As Rambo and Trautman try to make their way to Pakistan, Zaysen blocks them with a large mechanized force and orders them to surrender. However, Masoud's mujahideen forces attack the Soviets in a cavalry charge. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and Rambo are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank into his helicopter. Rambo survives the explosion and gets out of the tank. At the end of the battle, Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to their mujahideen friends and leave Afghanistan to go home.
Some critics noted that the timing of the movie, with its unabashedly anti-Soviet tone, ran afoul of the opening of Communism to the West under Mikhail Gorbachev, which had already changed the image of the Soviet Union to a substantial degree by the time the movie was finished. The 1990 Guinness World Records deemed Rambo III the most violent film ever made, with 221 acts of violence, at least 70 explosions, and over 108 characters killed on-screen. However, the body count of the fourth film in the series, Rambo, surpassed that record, with 236 kills. The Mi-24 Hind-D helicopters seen in the film are in fact modified Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma transport helicopters with fabricated bolt-on wings similar to the real Hind-Ds which were mainly used in the former Soviet bloc nations. The other helicopter depicted is a slightly reshaped Aerospatiale Gazelle.
An extensive film score was written by Oscar-winning American composer Jerry Goldsmith, conducting the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra; however, much of it was not used. Instead, much of the music Goldsmith penned for the previous installment was recycled. The original album, released by Scotti Bros., contained only a portion of the new music as well as three songs, only one of which was used in the movie (Bill Medley's version of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," played over the end credits).
- It Is Our Destiny - Bill Medley (4:30)
- Preparations (4:58)
- Afghanistan (2:35)
- The Game (2:23)
- Another Time (3:54)
- He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Bill Medley (4:30)
- Aftermath (2:42)
- Questions (3:34)
- The Bridge - Giorgio Moroder featuring Joe Pizullo (3:59)
- Final Battle (4:47)
A more complete 75-minute version of the score was later released by Intrada.
- Another Time (3:58)
- Preparations (06:21)
- The Money (:52)
- I'm Used To It (01:00)
- Peshawar (1:12)
- Afghanistan (2:38)
- Questions (3:37)
- Then I'll Die (3:34)
- The Game (2:25)
- Flaming Village (4:07)
- The Aftermath (2:44)
- Night Entry (3:58)
- Under And Over (2:55)
- Night Fight (6:50)
- First Aid (2:46)
- The Long Climb (3:25)
- Going Down (1:52)
- The Cave (3:31)
- The Boot (1:53)
- You Did It, John (1:08)
- The Showdown (1:26)
- Final Battle (4:50)
- I'll Stay (9:00)
Filming schedule 
The movie was shot between August 1987 and December 1987.
Shooting locations 
The movie was shot mainly in Thailand and Israel. The scene in the Buddhist monastery was shot in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Some scenes were filmed in Bangkok, Thailand while others were shot in Eilat, Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Israel. The Afghan market scene was a decorated set in Peshawar, Pakistan while the final scenes were shot at the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, Yuma, Arizona, USA.
- Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo
- Richard Crenna as Col. Sam Trautman
- Kurtwood Smith as Robert Griggs
- Marc de Jonge as Colonel Zaysen
Release and reception 
Rambo III opened in the US on May 25, 1988 at 2,562 theatres in its opening weekend (the 4 day Memorial Day weekend), ranked #2 behind Crocodile Dundee II. Overall in the US the movie took $53,715,611 and then took $135,300,000 internationally, giving Rambo III a box office total of $189,015,611. The movie is the second most successful of the Rambo series, behind Rambo: First Blood Part II. Much like its predecessor, it was well-received with the target young male audience, but not by critics. It scored a 36% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 reviews. Prominent critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (of At the Movies fame) were split on Rambo III, with Siskel awarding the film "thumbs up", and Ebert declaring "thumbs down" for those expecting more out of Rambo III. Ebert did, however, give "thumbs up" to fans, saying the film was entertaining and that it "delivers the goods". The New York Times took a dim view of the movie.
|Razzie Award||Worst Actor||Sylvester Stallone||Won|
|Worst Supporting Actor||Richard Crenna||Nominated|
|Worst Picture||Mario Kassar||Nominated|
|Andrew G. Vajna||Nominated|
|Worst Director||Peter MacDonald||Nominated|
Other media 
- David Morrell, author of First Blood, the novel the first Rambo film is based on, wrote a novelization.
- In the movie Twins, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is seen looking at the poster of Rambo III featuring Stallone, where he compares his biceps to Stallone's, but waves it off with a smile while shaking his head and walks away.
- Various companies released video games based on the film, including Ocean Software and Taito. In 1990, Sega released its own game based on the film for the Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive. The company would later reuse the film's rescue sequence and climactic final battle as stages in the 2008 arcade light gun game Rambo.
- A comic book adaptation of the film was published by Blackthorne Publishing. Blackthorne also published a 3D version of its Rambo III comic.
- A character in the film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 notes that the recording of one chainsaw murder sounds like "the soundtrack to Rambo III", though that film was not released until three years later.
- Spillman, Susan (1988-06-14). "`Crocodile' rocks the box office". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Voland, John (1988-08-25). "Movies". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- "Preview Review: Rambo IV".
- Easton, Nina (1988-06-14). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : Crocodile Swamps 'Rambo'; Hanks' 'Big' Hit". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- Blank, Ed. "'Croc' devours 'Rambo' in first week in theaters". Pittsburgh Press. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- Box Office Mojo, "Rambo 3"
- Easton, Nina J. (1989-01-05). "Roger Rabbit' Hops to Box-Office Top; 'Coming to America' Hits 2nd". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Maslin, Janet (1988-05-25). "Reviews/Film; Stallone's 'Rambo III,' Globe-Trotting Cowboy For the 80's Audience". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.