"Who is this terrorist? What makes you so valuable to him?! This bastard tried to destroy me tonight! But he failed! At sunrise I will hunt him down and have his skin hanging on the wall!"
―Colonel Zaysen on John Rambo.
Colonel Zaysen


Full Name
Colonel Alexei Zaysen
Weapon of Choice
PM-63 submachine gun, Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind gunship helicopter
Appeared in
Soviet military officer, head official of Soviet prison camp.
Get location of enemy Stinger missiles, win the Soviet-Afghan War, kill John Rambo.
Claimed to be peace in the region. However it is apparent that Zaysen's true motives were sadism, psychopathy and winning the war to expand the Soviet empire. As the film went on, he also desired revenge on John Rambo and the safety of his troops.
Hair color
Soviet Russian
Cause of Death
Shot and mortally wounded with a T-72 tank machine gun by John Rambo, suicide by helicopter crash
Portrayed by
Marc de Jonge

Colonel Alexei Zaysen (born March 1, 1938 in Moscow, USSR, died 1988 in Afghanistan) is the primary villain of Rambo III. He is a brutal and most likely psychopathic Soviet commander that runs a prison camp during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, and is also a proficient and gifted helicopter pilot. Zaysen sees his base as a freakshow and uses the torture of prisoners of war as his own personal enjoyment and entertainment.

Unlike Podovsky, who was more of a James Bond-style villain, Zaysen was really more of a 1950s Russian, similar to someone like Stalin. He idolized the old Soviet revolutionaries such as Vladimir Lenin, as shown by a framed photo of him which he keeps in his office. His military power is viewed as necessarily ruthless to win the war against the Afghans, though claiming to only desire peace. It was apparent, however, that Zaysen was only so brutal for his own enjoyment. Many thought the villain was merely a butch, over-the-top Russian stereotype. However, he was the most psychotic of the villains in Rambo films at the time (even more so than Art Galt), as he enjoyed watching prisoners be executed or tortured. He would remain the most merciless Rambo villain until we were introduced to Major Tint in Rambo IV


Little is known about Zaysen's backstory. However, according to "Survival Mode" on the Rambo III Ultimate Edition DVD, Alexei Zaysen was born on March 1, 1938 in Moscow. Zaysen graduated from the Soviet Military Academy in 1960. Zaysen worked with the Soviet Military Administration in Prague, Czechoslovakia from 1965 to 1969. While there, he earned his proficient helicopter rating in 1968. While based in Prague, Zaysen went on numerous combat deployments, specializing in resistance suppression. Zaysen was promoted to Major in 1970. From 1970 to 1981, Zaysen was stationed as the Regional Commander of the Kazakh province in the Kazakhstan SSR. While there, he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1978 before being sent to Afghanistan to be the Regional Commander at a remote medieval mountain base 22 kilometers from the Pakistani border. From there, his job was to stage raids against the Mujehideen rebels. He was then promoted to full Colonel in 1982. Zaysen began his notorious brutality in February of 1985, when the rebels began getting a stronghold. Zaysen's standard operating procedure was to capture, interrogate, torture and then execute. He even went as far as to disguise mines as toys, so Afghan children would pick them up and be killed or horribly injured. Thanks to this strategy, Zaysen quickly had the rebel forces diminished. Some time before 1988, word of Zaysen's brutality spread, and the rebels had been all but crushed from Zaysen's tactics. Around this time, the United States government became aware that Zaysen was behind many of the Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan, and made plans to arm the rebels to give them more of a fighting chance. Zaysen was informed of this and made plans to crush the rebellion once and for all.

Rambo IIIEdit

"Drop your weapons! Now! You have no chance of escape! Come forward! I wish to take you back alive! This is your last warning! The choice is yours!"
―Colonel Zaysen to John Rambo and Colonel Sam Trautman

John Rambo sees Zaysen for the first time.

Nicknamed "Comrade Colonel" by his fellow Russian soldiers, Colonel Alexei Zaysen was a deeply feared and respected Soviet military official that ran a military outpost in Eastern Afghanistan. He was first mentioned by Thailand U.S. Embassy field officer Robert Griggs as an "exceptionally brutal" Soviet commander who has managed to stop all humanitarian aid from coming in to help the starving, injured Mujhaideen rebels. This is seen as quite a difficult achievement to make. Griggs says that Zaysen has used every new weapon the Red Army has at its disposal, including land mines, heavily armed gunships and chemical warfare, to smother the rebellion so the USSR can annex the poor country of Afghanistan. 

Although Rambo is moved by these images, he can't bring himself to come along on the mission to supply FIM-92A Stinger missiles to enemy forces with Colonel Sam Trautman. Colonel Zaysen abducted Colonel Sam Trautman when he caught him trying to supply weapons to enemy Mujhadeen rebels. Zaysen appears in a gunship and begins shooting the soldiers accompanying Trautman with the helicopter's machine guns, killing at least five people and causing several explosions. Zaysen hovers over the ground and uses a speaker to order Trautman to surrender, saying that he doesn't wish to hurt him. With no other choice, Trautman lowers his weapons. Trautman first meets Zaysen face-to-face when Kourov, Zaysen's top Russian soldier, drags Trautman into Zaysen's office, which is decorated with a small desk, a mirror, and a bookshelf that contains pictures of Zaysen's apparent family and a portrait of Vladimir Lenin, a communist Soviet ruler. Zaysen is casually drinking Scotch whisky and playing chess with himself when he introduces himself to Trautman.

Zaysen is angered that Trautman is attempting to supply weapons to the enemy and demands to know the location of the missiles, supposedly to negotiate and "provide a way out of this for us both". Zaysen then says that all everyone really wants is peace, but Trautman doesn't buy it, and tells Zaysen that he has a sense of humor. Zaysen is confused and asks him to explain. Trautman says that he is a hypocrite because he is practicing mass murder of local Afghans nd preaching about peace at the same time. Zaysen accuses Trautman of believing in "absurd American propoganda" and claims to have killed nobody. Again, Trautman doesn't believe this and launches into a tirade about how the Soviets will just have to deal with the war they created. Zaysen is infuriated by how brave Truatman is and says that he is glad that Trautman is testing his patience. He tells Kourov to grab

Zaysen watches from the shadows as a man is electrocuted.

Trautman and he drags him by the neck into the torture chamber. Later on, Zaysen decides to interrogate Trautman through gruesome methods of torture alongside Kourov.

Zaysen ties a rope to Trautman's arms and has Kourov yank Trautman into the air, slowly and painfully ripping his arms out of his sockets, similar to the rack. Trautman appears to be willing to comply, but he insults Zaysen instead. Zaysen, his patience running thin, cocks his PM-63 submachine gun and holds it to Trautman's throat. Zaysen is then interrupted and told by a Pakistani informant of an rescue attempt planned by a man named John Rambo and the Mujhaideen. Also being aware of the village that Rambo is currently residing in, Zaysen and two more soldiers head out in helicopters and zero in on the location of the village, killing dozen of people in the process. Zaysen had absolutely no reservations on doing this, and was perfectly happy to kill everyone who he felt were in the way of him getting total control of the sector. However, Rambo manages to destroy one of the helicopters, killing several of Zaysen's men onboard, much to Zaysen's anger. Zaysen then retreats back to his base, knowing that the village is now in ruins.

Back at the camp, Zaysen smokes a cigarette while examining the cells. He looks at Colonel Trautman and says that he will soon be his guest down the hall. At that point, Rambo came by to initiate his rescue plan. The first attempt fails, even though many of Zaysen's men are killed. After having Trautman beaten up, Zaysen demands to know who attacked his camp, but Trautman refuses to comply, stating that Rambo will find Zaysen instead. The next morning, Rambo makes a second attempt, this time succeeding in rescuing the captive Trautman before escaping along with other captive Afghan civilians and hijacks a Soviet Mil Mi-24 gunship. Zaysen enters the torture room only discovered the torturer on the floor dead and he bangs the door in anger. After being severely damaged by the gunfires, the helicopter downed. But they're manages to escape the crash and decided to separate while Rambo escapes with Trautman. Furious, Zaysen then orders a manhunt for Rambo and Trautman, who are hiding in the mountains on the Pakistan border.

They hide in a cave and Rambo uses his compound bow to kill approaching soldiers, and faces Kourov in one-on-one fight. But Rambo gains upper hand by detonating Kourov's grenade, killing him. Before Trautman and Rambo can escape into Pakistan, Zaysen corners them with his remaining men. It looks like they are goners until Mujahideen forces arrive in a surprise attack to help Rambo and Trautman out. All of Zaysen's men are killed and Zaysen flies into a rage, swearing vengeance on Rambo, who commandeers a Soviet T-72 tank. Rambo and Zaysen get into a game of chicken and Rambo fatally wounds Zaysen when he fires the tank's machine guns through the

Zaysen is shot and mortally wounded.

helicopter's windshield, but Zaysen, using his last amount of strength, attempted to kill Rambo one final time by slamming head on to Rambo's tank.

However, Rambo rams the tank's 125mm gun into the helicopter and blows it to pieces, finally killing Zaysen and his helicopter crew. In the novelization, Zaysen instead tries to cowardly run from the battle, only for Rambo to catch up with him on horseback and kill him by impaling him through the head with his knife. This was later incorporated into the fourth film with the death of Major Pa Tee Tint, who Rambo disemboweled with his knife as he tried to flee. 


"I don't know how much you know about Afghanistan. Most people can't even find it on a map! But over two million civilians, mostly peasants, farmers and their families, have been systematically slaughtered by invading Russian armies. Every new weapon, including chemical warfare, has been used to eliminate these people. And they've been very successful, at many levels. I assume that you're out of touch with the current states of the war. But after nine years of fighting, the Afghan Forces are now getting their Stinger missiles, and are now beginning to hold their own against the Air-Strikes. Except for one region. Apparently, the Soviet Commander there is exceptionally brutal, as those photos indicate. And he's managed to strangle off all aid from the outside."
Robert Griggs on Zaysen's atrocities
Rambo The Video Game ENDING Walkthrough Chapter 3 1988 Rambo Videogame 2014 Gameplay Part 3 YouTube

Zaysen in the game

Colonel Zaysen is, without a doubt, the second most sadistic and cruel Rambo villain. Zaysen, similar to The Governor in The Walking Dead, would pretend to have benevolent motives for his actions, hiding behind peace and a good-guy facade. However, in reality, Zaysen was a volatile, depraved, cold-blooded, megalomaniacal, brutal psychopath who acted primarily for his own personal enjoyment rather than for his country as he claimed. Zaysen's isolated mountain base served as a secret prisoner of war camp where various inhumane torture methods were used. Unlike Podovsky, who used torture as a means to gather information, Zaysen was shown to use torture just so he could watch people suffer and die. Zaysen also was an antagonist who would charge into battle headfirst with his soldiers, and did not make others do the dirty work for him. Despite his war crimes and violations of the Geneva Convention, Zaysen did seem to be concerned with the well-being of the soldiers under his command and care, and did what he could to protect them after John Rambo attacked the base. Despite this, Zaysen was not above lashing out at his men when he became frustrated. Zaysen also was obsessed with vengeance, going as far as to wage an all-out war to catch John Rambo, who killed many of his men in an attempt to rescue his Colonel, Sam Trautman, from Zaysen's nefarious clutches. Zaysen's hatred-driven desires for revenge against Rambo were so intense that he went so far as to kill himself in an unsuccessful attempt to kill him, even though he himself was mortally wounded. This makes Zaysen the most fanatical Rambo villain as well, as Teasle likely survived the injuries inflicted on him from Rambo. Zaysen's "total war" approach resembled that of William T. Sherman from the American Civil War, but to a much greater extent. Zaysen's atrocities did not stop inside the walls of his remote base. As part of his standard operating procedure, Zaysen targeted civilians, particularly children, so he and his men would not have to worry about fighting the next generation of Afghans. Zaysen allowed his men to rape and kill Afghan women also. Zaysen's brutality quickly had the rebel forces diminished and word spread to the United States, who attempted to arm the rebels to help them fight. Upon hearing of this, Zaysen somehow managed to be even more brutal with the intent to kill every last rebel and ensure nobody would dare fight back again, a strategy similar to the one used by Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars


  • Colonel Zaysen was not actually portrayed by a Russian. He was actually portrayed by a French actor named Marc de Jonge. Podovsky was portrayed by a British actor, contrary to popular beliefs. Kourov was portrayed by the Australian Randy Raney. However, Voyo Goric, who portrayed Sgt. Yushin, was a Yugoslavian actor who was alive during the Soviet occupation of Yugoslavia. He was a Soviet, but he wasn't a Russian. 
  • The "Survival Mode" on the Rambo III Ultimate Edition DVD reveals that Zaysen's first name is Alexei. It also revealed that he was born on March 1, 1938 in Stalin-era Moscow.
  • Also according to the Survival Mode briefing, Zaysen graduated from the Soviet Military Academy in 1960.
  • Zaysen is the only primary Rambo villain to not be directly killed by Rambo (with the exception of Teasle, who likely survived). Although Rambo mortally wounded him with the tank's machine guns, Zaysen technically committed suicide in an attempt to take Rambo with him. Zaysen is also the only Rambo villain to actually kill themselves in the hopes of killing Rambo as well. 
  • Zaysen is the third villain to be killed in a helicopter. 
  • Second Rambo villain to be obsessed with vengeance, after Will Teasle. It can be argued that, because of this, Zaysen is the closest equivalent to Teasle in the sequels. 
  • Zaysen is the equal to Colonel Sam Trautman. Both care for their men and train them to become killing machines. They even have the same rank. Despite this, the way Zaysen goes about his business is the antithesis to the more benevolent and understanding Trautman. 
  • Zaysen used more profanity than perhaps any character in the Rambo films, aside from maybe Lewis
  • Only Rambo villain who was known about by the United States Government, who attempted to stop him. 
  • The very Russian way that Zaysen says "sector" and "missiles" has become somewhat of a running gag between fans of the series. Trautman even mocked the way Zaysen pronounced "missiles" and that characteristic of Zaysen's character was later carried over in Rambo: The Video Game