Outcast Vietnam vet John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has given up his old fighting life and now lives in solitude in Northern Thailand, fishing and selling snakes, while nearby on the Thai-Burmese border, the world's longest civil war continues to rage. When missionaries Sarah (Julie Benz) and Michael Bennett (Paul Schulze) ask Rambo to transport them in his boat through landmine territory, he does so reluctantly. When they do not return, Rambo sets out with a team of tough mercenaries (Graham McTavish, Matthew Marsden, Tim Kang, Rey Gallegos, Jake La Botz) to rescue them from the Burmese junta's army camp where they are being held captive.
Review by Louise Keller:
How do I kill you? Let me count the ways. I must admit I lost count of all the killings in Rambo, a blood bath of graphic violence that tries desperately to justify itself. The first thing to notice in this latest Rambo (26 years after the original) is there is a pecking order for Bad. The characters fit the category of Bad, Badder and Baddest. That's not counting the missionaries of course, whose roles are passive. Needless to say, Sylvester Stallone's Rambo is the least Bad. After all, he only kills when provoked. The mealy mouthed mercenaries fit the category of Badder (you wouldn't want to run into them on a dark night) and the cruel Burmese army are Baddest, as they rape, torture, maim and murder innocents. Stallone does action well, but in the name of entertainment, it is hard to condone this onslaught of violence with exploding bombs, mutilations, killings by stabbings, slashings, bow and arrows, hand guns, machine guns and brute force. One poor soul is eaten alive by a pig.
The opening scene depicts the horrors in Burma's horrific civil war, in which men, women and children are murdered, maimed and tortured. By comparison, Rambo, who's now selling poisonous snakes for a living, is a saint. The initial set up as Sarah (Julie Benz) and the missionaries persuade him to take them into war-torn Burma, is as stilted as a lame crocodile, with dialogue like 'It's complicated', 'we can't change what is' and 'when you're pushed, killing is as easy as breathing'. But things hot up when Rambo takes a bunch of ultra nasty mercenaries (Graham McTavish is terrific) up the river to find the kidnapped missionaries and do the right thing.
It must be monsoon season; most of the action takes place through torrents of rain, and Bryan Tyler's pounding score makes musical exclamation marks when something happens. Stallone and Rambo are both larger than life; Rambo is a tortured character, often shot in tight close up, with a sullen expression, lank hair and a trigger ready for action. His booming, deep voice seems to echo - like a rebounding bullet. There is next to no dialogue in the film's final 30 minutes - just a torrent of killing, blood and violence. The film's target market of young testosterone-charged males will no doubt be eager to immerse themselves in this blood-fest of stunts and special effects, but is this a positive thing?
The single disc DVD offers a commentary by none other than Sly himself, while the two-disc version has the commentary, deleted scenes and a handful of featurettes including making of, the music, the weaponry, release and reaction and the more sombre Legacy of Despair: The Struggle in Burma.
Published July 10, 2008
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RAMBO: DVD (R18+)
CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Jake La Botz
PRODUCER: Kevin King, Avi Lerner, Sylvester Stallone, John Thompson
DIRECTOR: Sylvester Stallone
SCRIPT: Sylvester Stallone, Art Monterastelli
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Glen MacPherson
EDITOR: Sean Albertson
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco-Giacomo Carbone
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 21, 2008
SPECIAL FEATURES: Single Disc Edition: Audio commentary with Sylvester Styllone; 2-Disc Set: Audio commentary with Sylvester Styllone and never-before-seen deleted scenes. Featurettes include It's A Long Road: Resurrection Of An Icon, A Score To Settle: The Music, The Art Of War, The Weaponry, A Hero's Welcome: Release And Reaction, Legacy Of Despair: The Struggle In Burma.
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: July 9, 2008