Rambo III (1988)


Rambo III is a 1988 American action film directed by Peter MacDonald and co-written by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprises his role as Vietnam War veteran John Rambo.

A sequel to Rambo: First Blood, Part II (1985), it is the third instalment in the Rambo franchise, followed by Rambo (2008). It was the last film to feature Richard Crenna as Colonel Sam Trautman before his death in 2003.

The film depicts fictional events during the Soviet–Afghan War. In the film, Rambo sets out on a dangerous journey to Afghanistan in order to rescue his former military commander and his longtime best friend Colonel Trautman from the hands of an extremely powerful and ruthless Soviet Army colonel who is bent on killing both Trautman and Rambo, as he helps lead the Soviet armed forces and their mission: Conquering Afghanistan.


Three years after the events in Vietnam, Colonel Sam Trautman visits his old friend and ally John Rambo in Thailand. He explains that he is putting together a mercenary team for a CIA-sponsored mission to supply the Mujahideen and other tribes as they try to repel the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Despite being shown photos of civilians suffering at the hands of the Soviet military, Rambo refuses to join, as he is tired of fighting. Trautman proceeds anyway and is ambushed by enemy forces near the border, resulting in all of his men being killed. Trautman is captured and sent to a large mountain base to be interrogated by Soviet Colonel Zaysen and his henchman Sergeant Kourov.

Embassy official Robert Griggs informs Rambo of Col. Trautman’s capture but refuses to approve a rescue mission for fear of drawing the United States into the war. Aware that Trautman will die otherwise, Rambo gets permission to undertake a solo rescue on the condition that he will be disavowed in the event of capture or death. Rambo immediately flies to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he intends to convince arms dealer Mousa Ghani to bring him to Khost, the town closest to the Soviet base where Trautman is held captive.

The Mujahideen in the village, led by chieftain Masoud, hesitate to help Rambo free Trautman. Meanwhile, a Soviet informant in Ghani’s employ informs the Soviets, who send two attack helicopters to destroy the village. Though Rambo manages to destroy one of them with a turret, the rebels refuse to aid him any further. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid, Rambo attacks the base and inflicts significant damage before being forced to retreat. Hamid, as well as Rambo, are wounded during the battle and Rambo sends him and Mousa away before resuming his infiltration.

Skilfully evading base security, Rambo reaches Trautman just as he is about to be tortured with a flamethrower. He and Trautman rescue several other prisoners and hijack a Hind gunship helicopter to escape the base. The helicopter is damaged during takeoff and quickly crashes, forcing the escapees to flee across the sand on foot. An attack helicopter pursues Rambo and Trautman to a nearby cave, where Rambo destroys it with an explosive arrow. A furious Zaysen sends Spetsnaz commandos under Kourov to kill them, but they are quickly routed and killed. An injured Kourov attacks Rambo with his bare hands, but is overcome and killed.

As Rambo and Trautman make their way to the Pakistani border, Zaysen and his forces surround them. But before the duo are overwhelmed, Masoud’s Mujahideen forces attack the Soviets in a surprise cavalry charge. Despite being wounded, Rambo takes control of a tank and uses it to attack Zaysen’s Hind gunship in a head-on battle with both vehicles firing high-calibre machine gun rounds, Rambo firing the tank’s main gun and Zaysen unleashing volleys of the Hind’s high explosive rockets and missiles. The final charge sees the two vehicles collide, but Rambo survives after firing the tank’s main gun after colliding with Zaysen’s Hind. At the end of the battle, Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to the Mujahideen and leave Afghanistan.


  • Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo.
  • Richard Crenna as Colonel Samuel “Sam” R. Trautman.
  • Kurtwood Smith as Robert Griggs.
  • Marc de Jonge as Colonel Alexei Zaysen.
  • Sasson Gabai as Mousa Ghani.
  • Doudi Shoua as Hamid.
  • Spiros Focas as Masoud.
  • Randy Raney as Sergeant Kourov.
  • Marcus Gilbert as Tomask.
  • Alon Abutbul as Nissem.
  • Mahmoud Assadollahi as Rahim.
  • Yosef Shiloah as Khalid.
  • Shaby Ben-Aroya as Uri.


  • Sylvester Stallone later said his original premise of the film “was more in keeping with the theme of Tears of the Sun (2003), but set in Afghanistan.”
  • Rambo III was released worldwide on May 25, 1988, and grossed $189 million at the box office.
  • With a production budget between $58 and $63 million, Rambo III was the most expensive film ever made at the time.

Rambo Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Peter MacDonald.
  • Producer(s): Buzz Feitshans.
  • Writer(s): Sylvester Stallone and Sheldon Lettich.
  • Music: Jerry Goldsmith.
  • Cinematography: John Stanier.
  • Editor(s): James Symons, Andrew London, and O. Nicholas Brown.
  • Production: Carolco Pictures.
  • Distributor(s): Tristar Pictures.
  • Release Date: 25 May 1988 (US).
  • Running time: 101 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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