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Rambo III (also known as Rambo : First Blood Part III in Malaysia) is a 1988 American action film released on May 25, 1988. 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.


The film opens with Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) returning to Thailandmarker (where the second film took place) to once again enlist the help of Vietnam veteran John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone). After witnessing Rambo's victory in a stick fighting match, Trautman visits the construction site of the Buddhist temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistanmarker. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan rebels, the Mujahideen, who are fighting the Sovietsmarker in the Soviet-Afghan War. Despite showing him photos of civilians suffering under Soviet military intervention, Rambo refuses and Trautman chooses to go on his own.

While in Afghanistan, Trautman's troops are ambushed by Soviet troops while passing through the mountains at night. Trautman is imprisoned in a Soviet base and coerced for information by Colonel Zaysen (Marc de Jonge) and his henchman Kourov (Randy Raney). Rambo learns of the incident from embassy field officer Robert Griggs (Kurtwood Smith) and convinces Griggs to take him through an unofficial operation, despite Grigg's warning that the U.S. government will deny any knowledge of his actions if killed or caught. Rambo immediately flies to Pakistanmarker where he meets up with Mousa (Sasson Gabai), a weapons supplier who agrees to take him to a village deep in the Afghan desert, close to the Soviet base where Trautman is kept. The Mujahideen in the village 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 has informed the Soviets of Rambo's presence. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid (Doudi Shoua), Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his attempts to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and results not only in Hamid getting shot in the leg, but also in Rambo himself getting wood shrapnel in the side. After escaping from the base, Rambo tends to Hamid's wounds and sends him and Mousa away to safety.

The next day, Rambo returns to the base once again, just in time to rescue Trautman from being tortured with a blow-torch. After rescuing several other prisoners, Rambo steals a Mil Mi-24 helicopter and escapes from the base. However, the helicopter is damaged as it departs and soon crashes, forcing Rambo and Trautman to continue on foot. After a confrontation in a cave, where Rambo and Trautman eliminate several Soviet Spetsnaz commandos including Kourov, they are confronted by an entire army of Soviet tanks, headed by Zaysen. Just as they are about to be overwhelmed by the might of the Soviet Army, the Mujahideen warriors, together with Mousa and Hamid, ride onto the battlefield by the hundreds in a cavalry charge, overwhelming the Soviets. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and John are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank into the Soviet colonel's 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.


The film's domestic box office gross was $53,715,611, which was about $11 million lower than its overall budget. However, it received a large worldwide gross of $189,015,611, or $135,300,000 internationally, excluding revenue from video rentals. Some critics note 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 261 kills.

The Mi-24 Hind-D helicopters seen in the film are in fact modified AĆ©rospatiale 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; however, much of it was not used. Instead, much of the music Goldsmith penned for the previous installment was recycled. The original CD/LP contained only a portion of the new music. A more complete 75-minute version of the score was released years later.

According to a report by the CBC's The Fifth Estate, trip wires were used to bring down the horses, causing some accusations of animal cruelty.

The film is dedicated to "the gallant people of Afghanistan."

Other media

  • David Morrell, author of First Blood, the novel the first Rambo film is based on, wrote a novelization.
  • In 1990, Sega released a game based on the film, aptly titled Rambo III. The company would later reuse the film's climactic battle sequence as the first stage of 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.
  • L.A hardcore band First Blood uses a line from this movie to open their song "Next Time I See You".


  1. Preview Review: Rambo IV
  2. Cruelty to Animals in the Entertainment Business : Cruel Camera - Cruelty on Film : the fifth estate : CBC News

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