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Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Ken Howard

Director: Sylvester Stallone

He's back...unfortunately. John Rambo, the ex-Vietnam killing machine who so successfully demolished Afghanistan in the trashy but terrific Rambo III 20 years ago, now works a boat on the North Thai border with Burma (Myanmar), catching fish and poisonous snakes to sell. Hauling in a big fish and promptly handing it to poor people immediately establishes Rambo as a Good Guy.

Reluctantly agreeing to take a group of medical missionaries into Burma, he's soon embroiled in lethal action, dispatching a gang of pirates who try to take over his boat. And, whenever government soldiers are about to massacre peasants or the hapless missionaries, Rambo's hulk, now forcibly allied with a group of mercenaries, suddenly looms up behind one of the enemy and takes over the nearest machine gun.

Stallone's Rocky retained some of his character and integrity to the end, but his Rambo has become a caricature and a pastiche of himself, grunting in guttural monosyllables and easily dispatching scores of soldiers all on his own. However, if it's merely explosions and killings you're after, there are dozens to savour, as bullets and knives scythe realistically through their victims. But the film runs a pitiful 79 minutes, plus about 12 minutes of credits, so plotting and characterisation are pretty much out. Hilariously unlikely, it's a good gory laugh.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
91 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 16 Feb 2008