August 21st, 2008 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

Another desperate stab at glory for Sly, and unlike Rocky Balboa, which saw him rehash every other Rocky film over again, he goes the Nigel Tufnel route here, turning everything up to 11.

It’s gorier and bloodier than most horror movies as everyone’s favourite inarticulate Vietnam vet and one-man army lays waste to what must be half the corrupt Burmese army as they slaughter villagers in the search for Karen rebels.

The bolted-on plot involves a humanitarian mission that asks Rambo to take them into dangerous territory, which he promptly refuses, all vestiges of caring for other people gone.

But at the urging of the pretty female member of the group, Rambo gives in and drops them off in the bad jungles of Karen territory. When they’re captured by the brutal bad guys, Rambo’s asked to take a small platoon of professional mercenaries upriver to rescue them, but soon finds himself dragged into the battle.

With the help of a truck-mounted machine gun, a small blade and more robust health than most 30 year olds enjoy — let along a war veteran in his 60s — Rambo blows arms, legs, heads and more away in a barrage of heavy automatic fire.

We see babies thrown into fires, limbs disconnected from bodies by rifle fire, bodies dismembered by mines and explosive, heads pop, chests explode and body parts fly around the jungle like exotic birds.

Was it too much? For an action movie, yes, if you were expecting something like the action movie heyday the 80s produced. Were the politics as dodgy as you’d expect from a Hollywood movie, or did Sly’s hand in things make it a little more heartfelt?

Well, he didn’t go the lazy route and have Rambo battle al Qaeda, but he did select the most convenient global hotspot where the enemy look sufficiently evil and different from us. It was just handy for him to be able to slaughter stereotypically filthy, drunken, forest-dwelling Asians again after all this time.

It’s too lazy to be an issues movie and too brooding and bleak to be an action movie, and despite being bloody enough to be gore-porn, it fits somewhere uncomfortably in the middle.

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