Wednesday, August 04, 2010

finally saw "Rambo"

"Rambo" was playing on one of those Fox commercial channels last night. It was the edited version, seeded with ads and blanked-out profanity (even digitally fuzzed-out subtitles). Some of the gore may have been cut out as well. Overall, I found the movie entertaining, and far superior to both the second and third Rambo films. One aspect of the newest film disturbed me, though: Rambo expends a good deal of effort to rescue a beautiful white missionary, but this scene is intercut with the rape of a group of native Karen women (the movie is set in Burma,* where Karen rebels are fighting for their freedom from the brutal military junta), producing a queasy, perhaps-unintended sense of racial bias.** It certainly wasn't obvious to me that those women received any justice. Stallone wrote and directed the film, so it may be that he was deliberately casting the Rambo character in a not-so-noble light. David Morrell, the author who created the self-loathing, ultra-violent Vietnam vet, apparently felt that this film captured the feel of his original Rambo concept, which supports the idea that Stallone knew what he was doing. Come to think of it, very few people in the film come off as truly likable: Rambo is sullen and bitter; the mercenaries are... well, mercenaries; the missionaries are insufferably self-righteous; and even the Karen people are ciphers-- little more than victims of the junta.

Despite these problems, I enjoyed the gritty feel of the plot, and the 80s-throwback tone. It was interesting to see that two of the cast members were faces I knew from watching "24." I also savored the movie's treatment of Big Issues: whether the world is constantly changing or the same, whether human nature can rise above the merely animal, and whether killing is ever justified. In all, not a bad flick, though it's definitely not for the ladies. (In fact, the movie might best function as a tonic for guys who have just had to sit through a treacly romantic comedy with their Significant Other.)

In watching the movie, I was amazed to discover how right my parody of the "Rambo" preview trailer was. The trailer pretty much gave away the plot of the whole movie.

*From the online CIA World Factbook:

Since 1989 the military authorities in Burma have promoted the name Myanmar as a conventional name for their state; the US Government did not adopt the name, which is a derivative of the Burmese short-form name Myanma Naingngandaw. (entry last updated June 24, 2010)

**Then again, the image of a hulking white guy slashing his way through hordes of little brown people calls to mind George Carlin's old rant about American military policy: if they're brown, we bomb them. I'm not saying I agree with Carlin's caricature, but it has to be admitted that the movie doesn't exactly refute Carlin's satirical imagery. Then again, the Karen rebels themselves felt energized by Stallone's film, which was an underground success in Burma.



Elisson said...

Never mind Rambo. What about "The Next Food Network Star"?

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, I'm behind in my commentary, but I'm dealing with some major family issues right now, so I'll have to post later.


Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

And I finally read Rimbaud!

Jeffery Hodges

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