‘Rambo’ (2008) movie review: Sylvester Stallone’s ultra-violent return

An ultra-violent return to the Rambo franchise, Sylvester Stallone’s precisely-titled Rambo doesn’t achieve quite the same level of success that the director-writer-star achieved in 2006’s surprising Rocky Balboa, but it’s quite an experience nonetheless. 

And it just might be the best film in the Rambo series, which was never that good to begin with (though First Blood seems to have its legion of fans). 

Gone is the comic-book mentality of the previous two films as Stallone takes this one seriously – far too seriously, injecting a politicized story with graphic, realistic bloodletting.

Stallone stars as the titular character, John Rambo, now entrenched in a Taiwan jungle, apparently hunting venomous snakes for a living. Some Christian missionaries stop by looking for a ride into war-torn Burma; after some convincing, Rambo takes them. 

Of course, soon he’s headed back to rescue them, this time with a crew of mercenaries hired by the church. 

None of these characters are fleshed out – we don’t care about the missionaries, or the mercenaries, or even Rambo, for that matter, despite his iconic image, but we do learn to hate the Burmese militia, who violently rape and kill and make peasant farmers race each other through a swamp littered with mines. 

Thus, though we have nothing invested in the good guys, it’s all the more satisfying when our hero almost single-handedly takes what seems like an entire army by the end of the film and we’re treated to countless explicit deaths. 

To be fair, the rest of the film is something of a bore, visually unappealing, not exactly mentally stimulating, but there’s something to be said for sitting back with your popcorn and soda and watching John Rambo rip out a man’s throat with his bare hands or literally turn someone into a cloud of blood with point-blank chain gun fire. 

And Stallone isn’t winking at us, either; this is modern-day exploitation filmmaking at its finest. From IMDb: the film has a kill count of 236, or 2.59 deaths per minute. 

This is not a good movie in any kind of traditional sense, but I had a boatload of fun here.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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