After he was arrested, tried and convicted, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is sentenced to hard labor at a labor prison camp when he gets a visit from his former CO, Col. Trautman(Richard Crenna). He offers Rambo a chance to be released in exchange for going into Vietnam to search for POWs. He accepts and later meets Marshal Murdock (Charles Napier), an American bureaucrat in charge. He tells Rambo the American public is demanding knowledge of missing POWs, and they want a trained commando to go in and get them. Rambo is briefed on the operation and is ordered not to rescue but only photograph. He reluctantly agrees and is told an agent of the American government will be there to receive him in the jungles of Vietnam
Later on, Rambo and the prisoner are recaptured. Rambo's wrists are bound to an oxen yoke and is lowered partially naked into a leech infested pit of pig waste. He later learns that the Soviet Army is helping the Vietnamese and training them. He is tortured badly by a Soviet officer named Lt. Col. Podovsky (Steven Berkoff). He is ordered to call the American military and tell them they should not send any more commandos. Meanwhile, Co enters a camp disguised as a prostitute and comes to the hut where Rambo is. He agrees to what the Russian commander says, but instead threatens Murdock by saying that he is "coming to get you". He escapes from captivity with Co's help into a nearby jungle. There she tends to his wounds. She makes a deal with him that he take her to the States and he agrees and they share a quick kiss. They are attacked by Vietnamese troops and she is killed. He takes her necklace and he proceeds to kill them all by using explosive-rigged arrowheads.
Following the escape from the camp, the Soviet and Vietnamese troops are sent to look for him. Rambo assembles his weapons, and using guerilla warfare and booby traps, he is able to kill off a large number of the troops. He goes on to a small enemy camp and destroys it and more vehicles with explosive arrowheads. He manages to hijack a UH-1N Twin Huey helicopter and goes to the POW camp. He lands it and armed with an M60 machine gun on the Huey, he kills off more soldiers. He rescues the POWs and loads them into the chopper. They get close to the American camp but the Soviet commander shoots them down. Rambo fakes death and just when the commander thinks he has them beat, Rambo launches a rocker and kills the Soviet commander. He returns to the base and destroys Murdock's command center. He threatens Murdock with a knife, making him promise to find the rest of the missing POWs. As he is leaving, Trautman confronts Rambo and tries to calm him. Rambo says he only wants his country to love it's soldiers as much as it's soldiers love it. As he leaves, he asks Rambo "How will you live, John?" and he replies day by day.
Did You Know?
-The Mi-24 Hind-D helicopters used in the movie are actually modified Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma transport choppers with fabricated bolt on wings similar to the real Hind-Ds used in the former Soviet Bloc nations
-Lt. Col. Padovsky is the only villain with lines in English
-The jet that drops off Rambo into Vietnam is an IAI (Israeli Aircraft Industries) 1124 Westwind
- Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo
- Richard Crenna as Col. Samuel Trautman
- Charles Napier as Marshall Murdock
- Steven Berkoff as Lt. Col. Podovsky
- Julia Nickson as Co-Bao
- Martin Kove as Ericson
- George Cheung as Capt Vinh
- Andy Wood as Banks
- William Ghent as Capt. Vinh (POW camp commander)
- Voyo Goric as Sgt. Yushin
- Dana Lee as Captain Kinh
- Baoan Coleman as Gunboat Captain
- Steve Williams as Lifer
- Don Collins as POW #1