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Since 1st March, 1999
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The thrill’s missing

Rambo, with friends, is how we sum up the new Rambo. Now, Rambo with friends is, in essence, a contrast to the lone-ranger-back-and-angry-from-Vietnam character that Sylvester Stallone immortalised on screen. While Sly’s not bent on slowing down at 61, in the new Rambo, the thrill is gone. Don’t get us wrong: by the end of the film, there’s enough fake blood on the floor, and if you loved First Blood, you’ll certainly enjoy this.

The fourth movie of the Rambo saga, this film unfolds two decades after the last installment, in northern Thailand. John Rambo’s now a longboat driver on the Salween river, leading a life away from the battlefield, catching fish and poisonous snakes for a living. The battlefield, though, isn’t far away from him — down the river on the Myanmar-Thailand border, the world’s longest running civil war rages between the Myanmar government and the area’s Karen natives. Oh, one more thing: no one knows how Rambo got to Thailand in the first place, but heck, who cares?

Trouble starts when a group of American Christian missionaries hire out Rambo’s boat to reach the war-ravaged region — and get picked up by the military. Villages are razed, kids killed, women raped in the attack on their camp — the first taste of war violence in this edition of Rambo’s escapade. A fortnight later, in the pouring South-East Asian rain, braving bandits and other venomous creatures, a pastor arrives at Rambo’s riverside shack. The holy man, on learning that his emissaries are now facing brutal torture by the Myanmar army, has apparently raised money to hire out a mercenary gang to rescue them. Rambo just gets busy making a new knife.

This is where the friends come in — war-wary soldiers, some of them know Rambo, or have at least heard about his loony past. Whatever it is, Rambo’s hired out to give this bunch a ride down the river into Myanmar. Predictably, he also follows them into the jungle — and predictably again, almost single-handedly finishes off the military camp, with a little help from a crackshot sniper pal.

Back in the old days, Rambo seemed so appealing not only because of the action sequences, but also due to his brooding, loner life and his amazing survival instinct; fighting to the teeth with elements and enemies alike to keep breathing. The new Rambo loses out on that aspect, coming across as just another standard-plot mind-numbing war-vet movie. Post-300, the slow-motion shots of blood spill, people being decapitated and the heads being displayed on poles are all cool, but the edge in character is missing.

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