Rambo : Reloaded Edition [DVD]

Sylvester Stallone writes, directs and stars in what’s undoubtedly not the final Rambo movie

By Adam Frazier

As a young kid growing up in the ‘80s, I remember watching “Rambo: First Blood Part II” on television. Being as this was cable, all the ultra-violent parts were edited out, but sometimes that made it even more brutal.

My young, impressionable mind was imagining (in great detail) the kind of pain John J. Rambo was inflicting on his victims – and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sylvester Stallone is the epitome of what it means to be an action star. He’s in countless flicks filed under the ‘Movies for Guys who like Movies’ category, and you always have to root for him, as he’s constantly outnumbered or outmatched.

After his successful return to the ring with “Rocky Balboa,” Stallone decided to continue the story of one of his other iconic characters, the troubled Vietnam War veteran John Rambo.

The franchise started in 1982 with “First Blood,” which featured Rambo trying to adjust to civilian life. In a nutshell, he’s given a hard time by a local sheriff and arrested for crimes he didn’t commit. What results is the ultimate survival film, in which Rambo goes into war mode and escapes to the forests, where he sets up a series of booby traps.

There were of course sequels, in which Rambo was assigned by the government to break into hostile areas and do what he does best – kill the bad guys and rescue the good guys.

In every Rambo film, the violence increased – as did the body counts. It’s that whole issue of violence in media desensitizing us, so the next time around it has to increase in order to provide the same level of shock. Well, if that’s still the model we’re working with – Stallone’s latest sequel, the bluntly named “Rambo,” has taken bloodshed to an all-new level.

The story is paper thin and practically transparent, but lets be honest – did we expect anything else? The formula for a good Rambo flick is simple: a hostile situation in which good people’s lives are in danger. That’s it. Throw in some really bad people and then have John Rambo come in, kick ass and save the day.

It’s been 20 years since we last saw John Rambo. He’s now living in Thailand, a stranger in a strange land. When a ruthless local infantry kidnaps a group of Christian aid workers, Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue them.

Allow me to be completely frank with you in saying that you have never experienced the level of graphic violence contained in this film. When Rambo and the mercenaries break into action, there are body parts flying everywhere. Explosions and headshots with high-powered sniper rifles show human bodies being ripped apart in ways that are so absurdly realistic; it leaves you shocked and a little dirty inside.

Although the 60-year-old Stallone is old enough to join the AARP, he’s still got the chops to fill the combat boots of John Rambo. After 20 years of semi-retirement, our favorite Vietnam War veteran still has all the moves.

While the dialogue is awkward and ham-fisted at times, and the plot is so simplistic it goes beyond any real critical analysis, “Rambo” is damn good at what it does: the kind of over-the-top action born and bred in the ‘80s.

And you know what, I’m not ashamed to say I enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a release from all those pesky Oscar-nominated dramas that fill the cinemas this time of year, feel free to entertain your inner bloodlust by watching “Rambo.”

Commentary, Deleted scenes, a bunch of featurettes – including one on the shit-storm that’s Burma right now.

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