I’ve never been a big fan of Sylvester Stallone’s movies. I liked First Blood, the first of the Rambo movies, but after that is was strictly down hill, especially with the third Rambo, the one which had him in Afghanistan lending a killing hand to the so-called mujahideen against the Soviets (big mistake). So against my better judgment I went to see Rambo IV last night. Actually I had been planning to see Meet the Spartans, which I thought would be on the zaniness level of Airplane or Walk Hard (I understand it isn’t very funny at all) but instead I opted for the new Rambo.
Rambo IV: Love it or leave it.
Rambo must save a group of well-meaning Christian missionaries (very politically incorrect in this day and age) who were bringing in medicine and medical help and who are now in the hands of brutal Burmese troops. Seems the missionaries are in the wrong village at the wrong time. They’re placed in bamboo cages; one of them is strung up in a pig’s pen where the beasts quite graphically gnaw the flesh off his body. The troops make great sport of torturing and killing, especially villagers they feel are not loyal to the government. It’s not pretty. Flies hover and buzz around bloated and decaying corpses. Headless bodies are placed in graves. Body parts are strewn about. Some of the death footage is real, taken from the recent crackdown on thousands of Buddhist monks and their sympathizers.
As usual Rambo, now in league with a handful of mercenaries hired by the church group trying to get its missionaries back, doesn’t talk much (he mostly says what he has to say with his eyes and muscle flexing). Maybe that’s because he’s been living in relative seclusion in Thailand for “a long time”, eking out a living catching deadly snakes for snake charmers in tourist shows, at least that’s what he’s doing as the movie starts. Rambo is initially hired to bring the missionaries to a clandestine drop off destination up river in evil Burma. His obligation to the group is supposed to end there. It doesn’t. He’s especially touched by one of the missionaries, a very gentle and beautiful woman who braves brutality and risks her life to help stricken villagers. Evidently, down deep, her kindnesses renew Rambo’s own faith.
There’s been some controversy about Stallone’s appearance, that perhaps he had been using steroids for his role in this movie. The man’s bigger than the Incredible Hulk’s bigger hulkier brother (if he ever leaves movies he’d make a great baseball player). I mean this guy rips through the bad guys like an eighteen wheeler on PCP.
I you’re looking for a non-pretentious, politically incorrect movie with climaxing layers of action, all with pulsating surround sound (e.g., Rambo unleashing a massive explosion that takes out half the jungle or pumping an anti-aircraft gun with the ease of use of a cap pistol) than get a ticket.