Subtitled – Did Rambo Save Burma? We are talking here about the fourth Rambo, the one deemed so good that it didn’t need to be qualified with foolish digits denoting its place in the series, though I always thought fourth blood had a ring to it. The news this week that Burma isn’t getting on quite as well as we hoped, and appears to be spewing out starving refugees seems at first to indicate that indeed Rambo did not save Burma, but whilst I was on my high (war) horse yesterday complaining about the bloodless World War Two of War Horse, I got to thinking about realism and social responsibility, the only logical way to go with this was Rambo. Now I love this film, I love it so much that I saw it at the cinema, rented it then bought it on dvd, not just any dvd, one in a sort of bamboo jacket so it looks just like one presumes pirated dvd’s in Burma might look, only less junta-ey. Stalwarts of filmic knowledge Zoo magazine say Rambo is “the most fantastically violent film ever” they actually used the word probably, but I ignored that, because Stallone rips a guys wind pipe out. So what’s interesting about the film is that it starts with some pretty harrowing newsreel footage, immediately we are being told that this is actually trying to engage with a genuine contemporary human rights issue, so what, you might say, enough people believed that there were still American pow’s in Vietnam to say the same of that, but the thing about all the other Rambo films is that when people get shot in them bits of their bodies don’t literally fly off. What Rambo did in 2007 was mark a new level of realism for splatter effects, then use them literally non stop for an hour and a half. If it was a cold bit of marketing or not we’ll never know, but Stallone was wise enough to see that a film couldn’t be set in Burma (“Burma? But thats a war zone”) without making some sort of concession to what was going on there, and one could argue, exactly what action could he take aside from that which he did, which was ostensibly to make a film with the aim of raising awareness. We know this was his aim because he told us in a heap of interviews at the time. So although it took three more years before reform began to reshape Burma, a bumpy road which will be long and winding, it is impossible to avoid the fact that this process began with Rambo. Ok I joke, Rambo didn’t save Burma, in fact he destroyed quite a lot of it with big guns, but one thing he did so is take notice when most of the world was looking in the other direction.


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