Rambo (2008) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit.

  • Vietnam veteran John Rambo has survived many harrowing ordeals in his lifetime and has since withdrawn into a simple and secluded existence in Thailand, where he spends his time capturing snakes for local entertainers, and chauffeuring locals in his old PT boat. Even though he is looking to avoid trouble, trouble has a way of finding him: a group of Christian human rights missionaries, led by Michael Burnett and Sarah Miller, approach Rambo with the desire to rent his boat to travel up the river to Burma. For over fifty years, Burma has been a war zone. The Karen people of the region, who consist of peasants and farmers, have endured brutally oppressive rule from the murderous Burmese military and have been struggling for survival every single day. After some inner contemplation, Rambo accepts the offer and takes Michael, Sarah, and the rest of the missionaries up the river. When the missionaries finally arrive at the Karen village, they find themselves part of a raid by the sadistic Major Pa Tee Tint and a slew of Burmese army men. A portion of the villagers and missionaries are tortured and viciously murdered, while Tint and his men hold the remainder captive. Concerned by their disappearance, the minister in charge of the mission gathers a group of mercenaries and pleas Rambo transport them with his boat, since he knows their last exact location. But Rambo can't stay behind: he joins the team where he belongs, to liberate the survivors from the clutches of Major Tint in what may be one of his deadliest missions ever

  • In this latest Rambo installment, John Rambo has retreated to a simple life in a rural Thai village near the Burmese border, capturing snakes for local entertainers, and transporting roamers in his old PT boat. Following repeated pleas, Rambo helps ferry a group of Christian aid workers into war-torn Burma, where the local Karen villagers are regularly tortured and massacred by Major Tint's sadistic soldiers. The humanitarian mission is going well, until the village is attacked and the missionaries are kidnapped, and Rambo is once again asked to transport - but this time a group of mercenaries, assembled by the missionaries' minister on a deadly rescue mission. This time he doesn't stay behind.

  • In Thailand, John Rambo is living peacefully capturing snakes and transporting people and cargo in an old boat. When a group of Christian missionaries asks to be transported to the war zone in Burma to help the locals, the reluctant Rambo only accepts when Sarah Miller presents her point of view about their humanitarian mission. Rambo leaves the group in the requested location, but the village where they are working is attacked by the sadistic army of Major Pa Tee Tint, the locals are slaughtered and the missionaries are abducted. Later a member of their church meets Rambo and asks him to transport a group of mercenaries hired to rescue the missionaries.

  • In Thailand, John Rambo is living peacefully capturing snakes and transporting people and cargo in an old boat. But when he joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit. Rambo refuses, but is convinced by another member, Sarah Miller, to take them up there. When the aid workers are captured by the Burmese army, Rambo decides to venture alone into the war zone to rescue them.

  • Living peacefully somewhere in the green jungles of Thailand, nearly two long decades after the Afghan rescue mission in Rambo III (1988), the unstoppable killing machine, John Rambo, seems to have managed to put the bloodshed of war behind him. However, everything is about to change, when a dauntless team of optimistic missionaries gets captured in war-torn Burma by the vicious militia of the ruthless officer, Major Pa Tee Tint. Now, John has to go back into the mouth of Hell, on a life-or-death operation to save the condemned hostages. Wherever Rambo goes, carnage follows. Is there a point to deny the fact that he still is the perfect killer?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The film begins with real-life footage of Burma soldiers committing genocide and other atrocities, and shows how they force young boys into becoming soldiers. At an abandoned rice paddy, Lt. Aye (Aung Aay Noi) and a bunch of Burmese soldiers force captured civilians out of a truck. One soldier walks into the muddy paddy and throws a few mines into the water. The soldiers order the civilians to go across the swamp. As they do, one person is blown up by one of the mines. The rest reach the safety of the terraces at the other end and are ordered to run back through the field. When they refuse, they are shot to death by the soldiers.

    During the opening credits, we see John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) catching snakes in a jungle in Thailand. He also uses a bow-and-arrow to shoot a fish and then gives it to some fisherman passing by in their boat. Rambo and his helpers go to a village where the owner pays Rambo for the snakes he captured. His only complaint though is for Rambo to get more pythons, since he keeps bringing back cobras.

    While Rambo puts the snakes away, Michael Burnett (Paul Schulze) approaches him and introduces himself. Michael is a missionary, and he was told that Rambo is the boatman who knows the river best. Rambo says that its true, and Michael wants to hire him to bring him and his group to Burma. Rambo says that its a war zone, but Michael says that this is his fifth time going in and they are all aware of the dangers involved. Rambo asks him if they're bringing any weapons with them. Michael says no, and Rambo tells him that they're not going to change anything. Sarah (Julie Benz), one of the missionaries, tells Michael that she'll try to persuade him. Sarah tries her best to convince Rambo to transport them to Burma, but he still refuses. He tells her to go home instead.

    Back in Burma, Lt. Aye's soldiers raid a village and take all the children hostage. The women cry and beg for their loved ones. Aye tells them that the boys will now be soldiers for the Burmese Army. He also threatens that if any of the women try to get help from the rebels, they'll come back and cut out their tongues.

    In Thailand, Rambo and goes to his boat when he sees Sarah waiting for him. She again pleads with him to transport them to Burma, and he still refuses. She says that trying to save a life won't waste his, and he must still believe in something. After Sarah leaves, Rambo thinks about it and then changes his mind.

    The next day, Rambo and the missionaries travel down the river in his boat. Sarah thanks Rambo again for helping them, and then asks him what his name is. He says John, and she asks him where he's from. Rambo says that he's from Arizona, and he hasn't been back since he was drafted and served in the Vietnam War back in 1967. Sarah asks him if he's at least a little curious as to how his home has changed, but he tells her that he doesn't have a reason to be curious. He also mentions that his father might still be alive back home. Before Sarah returns to her seat, Rambo says that they shouldn't go on, and that they can turn back whenever she wants.

    At night, while the missionaries sleep, Rambo orders his passengers to be silent. Michael asks him what's wrong, and Rambo tells him he sees a nearby pirate camp on the shore. He tells everyone to get down and be quiet so they can hopefully pass by unnoticed. They're almost in the clear, but the pirates spot them and open fire at them. Rambo stops the boat and tells everyone to keep their heads down. If they look the pirates in the eye, they'll be killed. The pirates' boat pulls up to them and several men hold everyone at gunpoint. They say that they're trespassing in their territory, and they have to pay them money. Rambo says that he'll pay him whatever they want from the boat, but then the pirates see that Sarah is female. They order Sarah to come with them, and Rambo offers them anything else but her. Tension escalates, and Rambo suddenly pulls a pistol and shoots all the pirates. One pirate is still alive, and so Rambo unloads his last bullets into his head. Michael voices his disapproval over what just happened, and so Rambo grabs him by the throat and harshly tells him that if he didn't kill them, they would all be dead and Sarah would've been raped and probably killed as well. Rambo says that they're going to turn back, but Sarah wants them to continue on since they're so close. Rambo eventually agrees to go on, and they arrive in Burma the next day.

    While the missionaries get out, Michael says that he has to report Rambo for killing the pirates. He also says that they're going to take another way out instead of his boat, and so he doesn't have to wait for them. Sarah gives Rambo a crucifix as a way of saying thank you for what he did. All the missionaries take off and hike to a village. As they do, Rambo travels back and comes across the pirate boat again. He douses it with gasoline and then lights it on fire, allowing it to explode with the dead pirates still on board.

    The missionaries get to the village, where they are greeted by the locals. One missionary is a dentist, and he inspects everyone's mouths. Another missionary hands out bibles and starts to preach about god while another missionary records him with his video camera. Sarah walks to where Michael is, where hes treating peoples wounds. Sarah looks at the people waiting to be looked at by Michael, who are missing legs and arms as a result of anti-personnel mines meant to permanently wound instead of kill.

    Suddenly, explosions begin to rip through the village. Aye and his soldiers have arrived, and they proceed to slaughter everyone in sight. One missionary gets his legs blown off by an explosion. The unarmed civilians are shot to death. Some soldiers set the people on fire with flamethrowers. Children are brutally shot to death, and a soldier throws a woman's child into a burning hut. During the massacre, the remaining missionaries try to run away, but they are beaten and captured by the soldiers. Aye watches as the village burns and the ground is littered with corpses.

    Some time passes, and Rambo dreams about what has happened to him in the past. He is woken up by Arthur Marsh (Ken Howard), who calls out his name. Arthur apologizes for coming to him like this, but he wouldn't come if it wasn't important. Arthur is a reverend at the Colorado church where the missionaries are from. Before they left, Michael told him that Rambo was going to transport them to Burma. It's been a week since they were supposed to be back, but they never showed up. Arthur has been in contact with some Karen rebels, and they have a good idea of where they were taken. Rambo believes that they're probably dead, and recommends that Arthur talks to someone at the U.S. embassy in Thailand. He already has, and they won't help him in time. He has hired a bunch of mercenaries for a rescue mission, and he wants Rambo to take them to the same spot where he dropped off his people. Rambo agrees to do it, and forges a large machete for himself.

    The next day, Rambo transports the mercenaries down the river. They are made up of Diaz (Reynaldo Gallegos), Reese (Jake La Botz), En-Joo (Tim Kang), and School Boy (Matthew Marsden) and are lead by Lewis (Graham McTavish), who constantly complains on how slow they are moving. Reese passes the time by singing, which annoys everyone else. The others pass the time with jokes and the like. Lewis tells Rambo that his boat is "a piece of shit", and he could swim there faster than they are going. Rambo stares him down, but Lewis says that he does not impress him. School Boy introduces himself to Rambo, saying that he got his name in sniper school and he hasn't been able to get rid of it (regardless of how many people he's shot).

    They eventually get to the spot where Rambo dropped off the missionaries. Lewis is angered when they find out the rebels have only sent two people (one is their guide, the other is a young boy). Reese also becomes nervous when their guide tells them that they face more than 100 Burmese soldiers. Lewis asks the mercenaries if any of them are carrying explosives. School Boy is the only one, and he's carrying a claymore mine. Rambo docks and grabs some blades, but Lewis tells him to stay with the boat. Rambo says that his men stay with the boat, but Lewis still orders him to remain behind.

    The guide takes the mercenaries through the jungle and they come across an old bomb that was dropped from a plane during World War II, which didn't explode when it hit the ground. After a long hike, they come to the paddy where the Burmese soldiers forced their captives to run among the mines they threw in the water. Flies are swarming around the dead bodies, a severed head has been impaled on a stake, and some corpses have been hanged as a warning to the rebels. Everyone is disgusted by the slaughter, and the guide warns them to watch where they step, since there are still mines around, and then sends the boy home to report what has happened.

    More Burmese soldiers arrive with more captives to play the running game. The mercenaries hide as the soldiers force another group civilians out of the truck and take their money. A soldier throws more mines into the swamp between them and the mercenaries. The soldiers force the civilians to run across to the other side. Scared, all the civilians dash across to the other side without being killed by the mines. The soldiers order them to run back across to where the truck is, but they are too scared to move. The soldiers try to scare them into running again by firing at them. School Boy wants to fire at them, but Lewis says that if they start shooting, it will attract the other soldiers at the nearby base (which is where the missionaries are). Rambo suddenly appears out of the jungle and shoots all the soldiers using his bow-and-arrow, killing them with deadly precision. The last soldier is shot in the leg and in the head, which causes his body to fall in the water, landing on one of the mines and exploding.

    The mercenaries are astounded at how easily and effectively Rambo killed the soldiers. The guide says that he can take them to the base, but Lewis and the others are ready to split. Rambo aims an arrow at Lewis' eye and is held at gunpoint by Reese and En-Joo. Rambo tells Lewis that none of them want to be there, and they can "live for nothing or die for something." School Boy is with Rambo, and soon the others agree to continue on.

    Back at the base, soldiers throw food at women locked in cages, and Aye inspects the captured missionaries. One of them looks him in the eye, which causes Aye to order one of his men to feed him to the pigs.

    Later that night, the mercenaries drive to the camp using the truck stolen from the soldiers Rambo killed. The guide is dressed as a soldier and drives them to the gate. It's raining, and once the guard recognizes the truck he lets them enter. School Boy sneaks up on a guard by the gate and stabs him. He then sets up his sniper rifle and waits. Rambo and the mercenaries plan to rescue the missionaries and move out at precisely 1:15 AM. One by one, they each jump out of the truck at different points, taking up positions of attack. Most of the soldiers are busy in a hut, watching captured women dance and throwing things at them. Rambo finds Michael and another missionary in a cage, with a dead missionary nearby (still being eaten by the pigs). He frees them and tells them to stay put until he comes back. Sarah remains held captive, tied up underneath a hut. The soldier who lives in the hut drinks some alcohol and walks off. At Aye's hut, a soldier brings him a young boy and Aye strokes his hair. He then shuts the door, implying that he'll have sex with the boy.

    The soldiers in the main hut get more rowdy and start throwing the dancers off the stage. One Burmese officer takes a woman for himself and runs off to his hut. He roughs her up a bit and she crawls underneath the hut. En-Joo happens to be there, and when the soldier looks underneath he is stabbed to death by En-Joo. Rambo meets up with Reese, and tells him to retrieve Michael and the missionary he freed. Diaz frees some of the caged women and they make their way towards the gate. Rambo eventually finds where Sarah is, but the drunken soldier comes back and takes her upstairs. He throws her on the floor and is about to rape her when Rambo sneaks up behind him and rips his throat out with his bare hands. School Boy kills the guards at the gate with his sniper rifle, which allows the others to escape.

    At 1:15 AM Rambo and Sarah aren't back yet. Lewis and the others are ready to leave, but School Boy says that they should wait for them. Michael also doesn't want to leave without Sarah, but Lewis throws him down and threatens him with his knife. They all decide to run off and leave Rambo behind.

    Rambo and Sarah get to the gate, but are held at gunpoint by two soldiers. Rambo jumps on Sarah to shield her from being shot. One soldier is blasted in the chest and goes flying back. The other soldier has his head blown off and his body flies back like a rag doll. School Boy had stayed behind to wait for them. He tells them that it will be dawn in an hour, and so they take off running into the jungle.

    When dawn comes, the soldiers find the dead soldiers and sound the alarm. Lt. Aye comes across the corpse of the officer who had his throat ripped out. They all mount up and take off into the jungle with dogs. While the mercenaries and the remaining missionaries run in the jungle, Lewis steps on a mine and his leg is shredded. Also, their guide has run off and ditched them. Michael tells the others to make a stretcher from the bamboo around them, and they carry Lewis out with them.

    Elsewhere, School Boy hears the dogs the soldiers have and realizes that they are tracking them. Rambo takes his Claymore mine and ties a piece of Sarah's shirt around his boot. He then has School Boy fire off a shot and orders them to get to the boat without him. The mercenaries hear the shot and pick up the pace while the soldiers also move faster. Rambo runs by himself through the jungle while the soldiers with the dogs chase after him. Rambo reaches the old WWII bomb and sets up the Claymore mine on it. He quickly covers it up and runs off again. The soldiers with the dogs are lead to the mine and bomb. When they inspect it closer, they pull the tripwire, exploding the Claymore & the large bomb which kills all the soldiers around it and destroys a good chunk of the jungle. Rambo is knocked off his feet by the blast but continues on to the boat.

    School Boy and Sarah almost make it to the boat when they stop suddenly. Sarah asks him what's wrong, and School Boy shows her with his sniper scope. Lewis and the others made it to the boat, but so have Aye and his men. The soldiers brutally beat the mercenaries and missionaries. Aye then personally walks to each one and viciously beats them with a bamboo stick. Lewis calls him a pussy, and so Aye jams the bamboo stick into his leg wound. School Boy also sees somewhere behind him that there's a jeep with a mounted .50 caliber machine gun in the back. The soldiers line up everyone and prepare to kill them. School Boy says that there's nothing they can do. Slowly, Rambo appears behind the soldier using the mounted machine gun and decapitates him with his blade. He then grabs the heavy machine gun and blasts the soldier in the front seat, splattering his body everywhere. Rambo opens fire on the other soldiers. The .50 caliber cannon's power is devastating, sending their body parts flying in the air. Lewis and the others fight back and kill off the soldiers around them. More Burmese soldiers come, but Rambo continues to mow them down into nothing.

    The guide comes back with Karen rebel soldiers, joining the battle. Aye calls in support from an army gunboat, which fires upon the rebel soldiers. During the carnage, Diaz is set on fire by a flamethrower and Aye kills a missionary before running off. Lewis kills a soldier that was about to throw a grenade. Unfortunately, the grenade falls near En-Joo, and the explosion kills him. Lewis is shot in the shoulder by a soldier, but the pacifist Michael tackles the soldier and beats him to death with a rock. Rambo is shot through the shoulder by one of the soldiers on the gunboat. He sees another truck full of Burmese soldiers coming straight for him, and so Rambo annihilates the soldiers by firing at them with the .50 caliber gun. He then fires upon the ship, causing one guy's head to explode, and the guide blows it up with an RPG launcher.

    Aye runs off by himself into the jungle, but is stabbed through the abdomen by Rambo with his blade. As Rambo looks at the man with his trademark snarl, he suddenly slices the man's abdomen open and kicks his body down a hill. Rambo stands on top of the hill, looking down upon the survivors of the battle. Sarah looks around for Michael, and is relieved to find him alive. Lewis is still alive, as is School Boy, but Reese's corpse is seen nearby. Michael waves to Rambo as he stands by himself and nurses his shoulder wound.

    Next, we see Rambo back in the USA walking down a highway, wearing his green army jacket and carrying a bundle over his shoulder. Rambo makes his way to a mailbox which has "R. Rambo" stenciled on it. The film ends with him looking back at the paved road from which he came, and then finally walking back to his home along a dirt road towards the Rambo farm.

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