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Soundtrack review: Rambo III (Jerry Goldsmith – 1988)

Composer of the month Franchises The expendables month

Soundtrack review: Rambo III (Jerry Goldsmith – 1988)



“Rambo III” (and ironic story in our times since our hero fights alongside and saves the Talibans) is the movie I have the least emotional connection with. The story didn’t attract me as much but the movie was still great. It was the most violent film ever until John Rambo came out and took that record. Jerry Goldsmith’s score for this one took a long time to be released. Intrada finally did it some justice and put out a 75 minutes long version which I am reviewing now as part of “The Expendables month”.

By this time our hero was weary and retreated in Thailand. The music reflects this very nicely. The journey of the character is mirrored perfectly by Goldsmith’s music. The urgency that dominated the first score and the violent action in the second give way to more melody in this one. Rambo is a more mature character, sadder and burdened by the previous events and you can hear that in cues like “Questions” and “Then I’ll die”. They are the most melodic from Jerry Goldsmith’s work on the franchise.

The music of “Rambo III” is more accessible and brings the series into epic territory. If the first two scores were brilliant but lacked thematic variety, this third score expands the Rambo universe and we get cues that sound more developed. The action music is tougher, the emotional parts take their time to get inside you and there isn’t a dull moment on this release. I was expecting amazing action cues like “Night flight” from Jerry but it’s the tenderer moments like “First aid” that get to me. They bring heart to the character, heart that had only been present in the main theme’s different incarnations so far.

While being by far the most violent of the first three movies, “Rambo III” has the most heart. It even ends with the 9 minutes long masterpiece “I’ll stay”. Still the lack of emotional connection makes me not love it or listen to it as much as I do the first two. As a musical composition though, it is not one to be missed. It might just be the best of them.

Cue rating: 93 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 52 / 77

Album excellence: 68%


Another Time

The Money

I’m Used To It



Then I’ll Die

The Game

Flaming Village

The Aftermath

Night Flight

First Aid

The Boot

The Show Down

Final Battle

I’ll Stay


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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