Dir: Sylvester Stallone
Star: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish

Twenty years after Rambo's last excursion into Asia, we find him (Stallone, natch) once again going into battle, this time against the evil Burmese army, engaged in a genocidal war against the Karen tribe. He is convinced by the idealistic Sarah (Benz) to take a humanitarian team over the border into Burma; when they are captured by the army, he then has to go back, as part of a mercenary rescue mission, with rather less charitable aims. Naturally, he ends up having to rescue, not just the civilians, but also his military colleagues. If that's a shorter synopsis than I usually give, it would be because that's about as much of a plot as there is, so anything more would be needless padding. At a brisk 91 minutes, it knows what we expect and delivers it in massive quantities: I'm not sure I have ever seen a more violent mainstream Hollywood film. Limbs fly, bodies explode and the red stuff flies through the air with the kind of gleeful abandon usually reserved for Peter Jackson films, especially when Rambo gets hold of a truck-mounted machine-gun. Wheee!

It's an odd approach to take, for a film which clearly wants to be a heroic tale of struggle by a repressed people, though the Karen tribesfolk do very little, leaving the vast majority of their freedom fighting up to the Westerners. One can therefore question the execution - as it were - even if Stallone's heart is in the right place. The Burma situation is definitely one of the bigger doses of unpleasantness going on, so he deserves credit for shining some light on it, even if at times it appears to be in a feature-length version of the Black Knight scene from Holy Grail. Stallone, wisely, keeps the emoting to a minimum, handing off most of the duties there to Benz; it has to said, he looks pretty good for someone now in his sixties. However, this isn't Respect for the Elderly Day, and outside of the copious gore, there is precious little in concept or result which will stick in the brain after viewing.

[September 2009]

Stallone auditions for
Snakes on a Plane 2
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