This is one of those films that was quite popular back in the 80s, but seems to have fallen by the wayside of late. Then again I suspect this it has become somewhat dated and certainly didn't attain the cult like status that some movies did. In a way, like the previous film, the main purpose of Rambo was to try and come to terms with the failures of Vietnam, and dress it up in some form of action film where the all American action hero storms in and saves the day (though it is interesting that we do learn about Rambo's heritage here).
The film begins with Rambo in prison however he is approached by his former commander who offers him a way out – return to Vietnam and attempt to rescue some forgotten prisoners of war. However, things pretty quickly go pair-shaped when it becomes clear that the person pulling the strings actually has a different agenda in mind, and once again Rambo simply discovers himself a tool of some faceless, and heartless, Washington bureaucrats.
Where as the first movie focused mainly on those who had returned, this movie brings out the concept of those who were left behind. Apparently an agreement was made in 1972 where the American government would pay war reparations in return for the release of their prisoners of war, and not surprisingly the Americans reneged on this agreement, and the prisoners were left to rot. However, this had the potential to explode into a public relations disaster sooner or later (and sort of went against the idea of leave no man behind). Well, this is where Rambo and his mission comes in – not to rescue the prisoners but actually prove that there aren't any there.
Mind you, such a movie wouldn't have worked with simply having the Vietnamese as the enemies, so they upped the ante by bringing in the Russians. However, the one thing where this film does end up falling down is the fact that it pretty much degenerates into one massive slug fest. This is probably why I wasn't as impressed with this film as the previous one. In a way it really seemed to fall into some angry rant against the Vietnamese for not only torturing their prisoners, but not letting them go (needless to mention the fact that the Americans were trying to sweep this under the table as well).
In a way this film seemed to be capitalising on the renewed interest in the Vietnam War, but really did little to address the issues. Ironically, one of the characters looked a lot like a skinny version of Churck Norris, who also made a couple of Missing in Action films which were actually of a somewhat higher calibre. Sure, this film does have its intrigue, and its untrustworthy bureaucrats, but it does really finish off all that well. In a sense it just seems to reach a point where the screen writers really couldn't work out where to take the film and simply gave Sly a gun (and a helicopter) and had him pretty much run around blowing everything up. Talking about the chopper, that last scene, where he is destroying the camp, is equally ridiculous in that he basically managed to blow up an entire POW camp without injuring a single American (as well as flying a damaged Chopper all the way across Laos only to have it fall apart when it landed at the base in Thailand).