- Directors: Peter MacDonald
- Producers: Buzz Feitshans, Mario Kassar, Andrew G Vajna
- Writers: Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone, Sheldon Lettich, Characters, David Morrell
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller
- Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Marc de Jonge, Kurtwood Smith, Sasson Gabai
The film opens with Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna) returning to Thailand (where the second film took place) to once again enlist the help of Vietnam veteran John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone). After witnessing Rambo’s victory in a stick fighting match, Trautman visits the construction site of the Buddhist temple Rambo is helping to build and asks Rambo to join him on a mission to Afghanistan. The mission is meant to supply weapons, including FIM-92 Stinger missiles, to Afghan rebels, the Mujahideen, who are fighting the Soviets in the Soviet-Afghan War. Despite showing him photos of civilians suffering under Soviet military intervention, Rambo refuses and Trautman chooses to go on his own.
While in Afghanistan, Trautman’s troops are ambushed by Soviet troops while passing through the mountains at night. Trautman is imprisoned in a Soviet base and coerced for information by Colonel Zaysen (Marc de Jonge) and his henchman Kourov (Randy Raney). Rambo learns of the incident from embassy field officer Robert Griggs (Kurtwood Smith) and convinces Griggs to take him through an unofficial operation, despite Grigg’s warning that the U.S. government will deny any knowledge of his actions if killed or caught. Rambo immediately flies to Pakistan where he meets up with Mousa (Sasson Gabai), a weapons supplier who agrees to take him to a village deep in the Afghan desert, close to the Soviet base where Trautman is kept. The Mujahideen in the village are already hesitant to help Rambo in the first place, but are definitely convinced not to help him when their village is attacked by Soviet helicopters after one of Mousa’s shop assistants has informed the Soviets of Rambo’s presence. Aided only by Mousa and a young boy named Hamid (Doudi Shoua), Rambo makes his way to the Soviet base and starts his attempts to free Trautman. The first attempt is unsuccessful and results not only in Hamid getting shot in the leg, but also in Rambo himself getting wood shrapnel in the side. After escaping from the base, Rambo tends to Hamid’s wounds and sends him and Mousa away to safety.
The next day, Rambo returns to the base once again, just in time to rescue Trautman from being tortured with a blow-torch. After rescuing several other prisoners, Rambo steals a Mil Mi-24 helicopter and escapes from the base. However, the helicopter is damaged as it departs and soon crashes, forcing Rambo and Trautman to continue on foot. After a confrontation in a cave, where Rambo and Trautman eliminate several Soviet Spetsnaz commandos including Kourov, they are confronted by an entire army of Soviet tanks, headed by Zaysen. Just as they are about to be overwhelmed by the might of the Soviet Army, the Mujahideen warriors, together with Mousa and Hamid, ride onto the battlefield by the hundreds in a cavalry charge, overwhelming the Soviets. In the ensuing battle, in which both Trautman and John are wounded, Rambo manages to kill Zaysen by driving a tank into the Soviet colonel’s helicopter. Rambo survives the explosion and gets out of the tank. At the end of the battle Rambo and Trautman say goodbye to their Mujahideen friends and leave Afghanistan to go home.