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Excellent quality discs, beautiful Steelbook presentation 4 Stars

From the drifter caught up in America’s anti-Vietnam sentiment after returning home from that war, to an aging recluse of a man who acts like a missionary with a machine gun, bringing retribution rather than religion, Rambo is a true cinematic icon and a success to varying degrees. The series lost much of its intelligence after the first film, but never really lost the core of the character; a tortured soul looking for peace while bringing destruction and justice to bad people in situations in which he would rather not be.

This Ultra High Definition Steelbook release, exclusive to Best Buy, is terrific. The outer box is at risk for dents, no doubt, but the individual Steelbooks for the 5 films are nicely secured inside and, most importantly, the quality of the discs top-notch. This handsome and high-quality set is highly recommended for franchise fans and Steelbook lovers.

First Blood (1982)
Released: 22 Oct 1982
Rated: R
Runtime: 93 min
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Genre: Action, Adventure
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Bill McKinney
Writer(s): David Morrell (based on the novel by), Michael Kozoll (screenplay by), William Sackheim (screenplay by), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay by)
Plot: A veteran Green Beret is forced by a cruel Sheriff and his deputies to flee into the mountains and wage an escalating one-man war against his pursuers.
IMDB rating: 7.7
MetaScore: 61

Disc Information
Studio: Lionsgate
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Other
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 93, 95, 102, 91, 89 Mins
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Wonderful Steelbooks with outer case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 10/27/2020
MSRP: $94.99

The Production: 4/5

First Blood: 4/5

“I could have killed ’em all, I could kill you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it. Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe.”

John Rambo, hero war machine from the Vietnam War, has become a drifter walking a long and lonely road in search of something no person can provide, nor place can deliver. Rambo is searching for himself, lost somewhere in the brutality of his wartime experiences. The peace he searches for is elusive, but derision and disrespect are easy to find. When he drifts into a small town called Hope, looking for a hot meal and a break from his journey, he is quickly picked up by Hope town Sheriff Will Teasle and shuffled to the other side of town and told to keep walking. Rambo, not one to suffer fools lightly, chooses to head back into. From that moment through the next riveting hour and a half, what unfolds is a great ride with an unusual kind of hero and one of cinema’s most recognizable figures.

The film is based on a novel by David Morrell and was directed by a very capably Ted Kotcheff. It’s a true cat and mouse tale with exciting pace and tense set-pieces. The thrilling action simmers through the cold, rainy mountainous hills on the outskirts of the small town, where the over-zealous Sheriff, played by Brian Dennehy, stages his massive manhunt. Once Rambo escapes from the custody of the small-town, narrow-minded police force, the film engages a taught energy that is smart and furious at times. Pursued, hunted, outnumbered, and outgunned, it is Rambo’s resourcefulness and connection with the raw of nature that gives the film its tight atmosphere and drama.

Once the local law enforcement realizes they have bitten off more than they can chew, Rambo’s ex-military commander (Richard Crenna) is called in to help talk Rambo down. The relationship between commander and subordinate is where the film really gets to explore the aftermath of not only the war in Vietnam, but the unfortunate treatment many of those that served experienced when they returned home.

Stallone’s performance is noteworthy for the vulnerability he imbues in the Rambo character. In subsequent films this vulnerability morphed into more outward expressions of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was matched with a physical invulnerability that made for great action but limited drama. First Blood was also made in a time before action heroes seemed tethered to the need to spout off quips when dispatching with the bad guys. Stallone’s John Rambo in this film is a quiet, tough, and tortured man who does only what he has to, reluctantly reacting rather than acting as the aggressor, at least until the final act. First Blood remains one of Stallone’s absolute film performances.

Rambo: First Blood Part Two: 3.5/5

“To survive a war, you have to become war”

By the time the First Blood sequel hit the screen, the name Rambo had become very well known the world over, so it made sense that the naming convention for the next chapter would go out the window in favor of capitalizing upon that name recognition.

Rambo begins with Col. Sam Trautman bringing our hero a proposition as he labors away in a prison facility. The chance for a full pardon is his if he will take on a top secret and deadly mission into Vietnam to search for American prisoners of war. Rambo’s elite training and incomparable skills make him the ideal candidate to successfully complete the mission. Rambo accepts the offer and makes his journey into the deep and unforgiving jungles. But despite finding POW’s, breaking them free and making his way to the pick-up point, the bureaucratic ‘pencil-pusher’ from the government overseeing the mission abandons Rambo, and those rescued, to protect the politicians from the mission that was never supposed to succeed. Rambo is once again a forgotten soldier who must struggle on his own to do what is right and to fight… and fight hard.

When I first saw Rambo: First Blood Part II, I remember being enthralled at the relentless action of one man going up against an entire army. Revisiting the incredibly popular sequel years later yielded a more subdued response, but the heart of the First Blood sequel is now a quintessential 80’s American action movie. Written by Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron (from a story by Kevin Jarre), the story is far less of a thriller, but packs a more vivid punch than the smaller, tighter original of the series. Instead of fighting against ignorant lawmen and inner demons, Rambo’s enemy is a blend of Vietnamese and Russian soldiers and American Bureaucrats. The action is handled efficiently by Director George P. Cosmatos who keeps the pace consistent, allowing Rambo to do what he does best. Once the story hits the jungle, Rambo is in his element and the film feels closer to its predecessor as we are drawn in. The occasional one-liner quips don’t fit the character we were first introduced to but were no doubt crowd pleasers at the time.

As an action film, it works well, with Rambo transforming from the hero of solitude, reacting to outward influences to protect himself, into a fully-fledged ‘go get ‘em’ savior. The film also successfully tied in the familiar enemy of the day, the Russians, to create an easy to dislike foe for the audience to enjoy watching Rambo kick their proverbial butts.

Stallone’s physical excellence and performance sets a bar here, heightening the action and keeping the film exciting to this day. It has a story well timed for the year it was released and though it contains clunky dialogue, the abundance of bravado seems to compensate. The superb chopper sequence in the third act would no doubt have had audiences standing and cheering in the theater. A dumbed down sequel for sure, but a solid one.

Rambo III: 3.5/5

“I’m no tourist”

Rambo III is perhaps the most misunderstood of the series. A probable misstep as a follow up from the very American Rambo: First Blood Part Two, it takes a chance by introducing audiences to an unfamiliar people and conflict (at the time), and by being a far less broad action piece.

Rambo has set up a quiet life for himself in Thailand. While he earns money stick fighting in a marketplace arena as others make and take bets, he lives peacefully and helps fix up a local monastery, a penitent and lone existence. But once again, he is visited by Col. Trautman with a request to join him on a dangerous and secret mission inside Afghanistan where the invading Russians are destroying Afghans with their military might. But Rambo declines. Sometime later he is visited once again, this time by the men in suits that accompanied Trautman with news that the mission had failed and his former military commander had been captured. Now, with a reason to become involved, Rambo requests to go it alone, under the radar, into Afghanistan and rescue his friend.

Once involved, Rambo gets to know the Afghan people, their plight, and their fight, shining a light on the ‘enemy of the enemy’. All the requisite action elements are here; impossible odds, impenetrable prison camps and a ruthless, obsessive, and vindictive foe looking to destroy Rambo and the horse he rode in on. The Afghan based plot provided a refreshing battleground for Rambo and gave the film a chance to educate people on a corner of the world most would never have come to know. It was the only film to explore the terrible things happening there and give a bit of a history lesson on the proud Afghan people. The action feels bigger this third time around, but there is less of it. Far more conversations take place than one might expect, providing interesting and necessary back story exposition, since the film was dealing with people and places that were not familiar like the Vietnam was had been in these films. Necessary stuff, but it comes at a cost of slowing down the pace.

I am not sure audiences could get past the strange territory and vastly different fight Rambo was involved in, or it could have been the beginning of Stallone’s waning popularity that stunted the films appeal. The change in the political landscape, with Russia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and overtures toward the West certainly impacted the films relevance and must have hurt as well.

In context of the four films, Rambo III makes more sense than it did back in 1988. A reluctant hero, still fighting his inner self rampaging against a brutal enemy; instinctively drawn to do what is needed, regardless of the risk to self. This film is flawed, overly simple and cartoonishly brutal, but it tries hard to be relevant to the notion of a war-ravaged people suffering, wherever that may be. A little preachy at times, but its point is well made.

Rambo: The Fight Continues: 3/5

“Maybe you’ve lost your faith in people. But you must still be faithful to something. You must still care about something. Maybe we can’t change what is. But trying to save a life isn’t wasting your life, is it?”

More than twenty years after Rambo III hit theaters and failed to capture the same level of audience support, Sylvester Stallone managed to successfully go back to the character well and resurrect the iconic John Rambo. The success of Rocky Balboa, which recognized and capitalized on the aged Stallone filling the shoes of a hero from the 80’s, was more than enough to open a door for audiences to accept the revisiting of another great character after all this time. In both cases, Stallone served as co-writer and director, personally orchestrating the revival of two of movie history’s most recognizable figures.

Rambo, happily resigned to a simple routine in the heat of a Thailand existence, lives in the solitude of personal retreat. His days under the weight of his troubled soul are complicated when he is approached by a group of missionaries intent on entering war torn Burma to provide aid and faith to the victims of the harsh Junta military regime. Resistant at first (isn’t he always); Rambo eventually agrees to take them on his boat into the dangerous territory where he drops them off before heading home. The Missionaries are caught in the crossfire of the deplorable slaughter that appears commonplace in Burma and the few survivors are imprisoned. When Rambo is once again approached, this time by a minister who needs Rambo to ferry a handful of mercenaries back into Burma for a rescue mission, the story has found its way to put the inexplicably evil Burmese military bad-guys in Rambo’s ferocious and unforgiving crosshairs.

As with Rocky Balboa, the thought of an aging Stallone bringing the iconic Rambo character back to the big screen was filled with reservations. However, again as with Rocky Balboa, there is much to enjoy in the experience of Rambo’s return, flaws and all. The story, co-written by Stallone with Art Monterastelli, pits the good guys against the bad guys in a fashion that harkens back to the disposable body counts of the 1980’s, but that is not to say that it is merely a flashback to the action films of that era. While the Burmese military are shown from the get-go to be brutal, heartless monsters, slaying unarmed men, women and children with a barbarism and perverse glee that is extremely disturbing, it is that very same gory, unfiltered gruesomeness that places the action in a different place from its 80’s relative. The Rambo films unlike many others of the same ilk, have worked a little bit harder to make a distinct point about war and its consequences. First Blood, the best of the quartet, explored the inner toll. Part two gave an action movie voice to the forgotten of war and showed the political walls that are erected ‘for the greater good’. Part three explored how the ‘enemy’ was doing irreparable harm to a kind and simple people in a county most people had never heard of (at the time); a worthy aim for an action movie. And so, twenty years and some serious body-building steroids later, Rambo is back doing the same thing, slashing, and burning his way through the evil perpetrators and exploiters of war.

Stallone provides stable direction but does allow clunky and convoluted dialogue to spoil the moment from time to time. There are some stunningly beautiful shots of the Thai locations (where the film was mostly shot), and the peace of these shots is an interesting counter to the unflinching bloodshed that washes over a grand amount of the running time.

The brutality of the violence immediately stands out. It is simply overwhelming at times but never to the point of parody. It exists, I believe, to be a reminder of how despicable evil can be. It is a statement about the evil that men do. Most action movies, especially from the decade where Rambo first appeared, were filled with bad guys (and good), being shot and falling over a railings or smashing through roofs, being blown away by shotgun blasts or just dropping like flies. These action sequences were filled with disposable people that served, so it seems, to merely ‘up’ the films body count. Rambo does not do that. While it is an action movie and you will find yourself cheering a little when the bad guys get their comeuppance, the film shows what really happens when someone is hit by a bullet, blown up by a landmine or hacked with a machete. It is, oddly enough, an element of unfiltered reality in a purely fictional plot.

In the end, it is the reluctant and troubled hero, stepping in to do what no-one else can or will do, that remains the appeal at play, and on that front Rambo is a success.

Special mention should be made of Brian Tyler who takes over scoring duties for the late Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith, one of the greatest composers who ever lived, provided subtlety and depth in surprising ways to the Rambo films with his music. While Brian Tyler is a little more functional here, his treatment of the Rambo theme is a perfect ode to Goldsmith. Many parts of the score remind of Hans Zimmer’s lovely score for Beyond Rangoon as well.

Both theatrical and extended versions are available.

Rambo: Last Blood: 2.5/5

“I’ve lived in a world of death. I’ve watched people I’ve loved die. Some fast with a bullet, some not enough left to bury. All these years I’ve kept my secrets, but the time has come to face my past. And if they come looking for me, they will welcome death. I want revenge. I want them to know that death is coming. And there’s nothing they can do to stop it.”

John Rambo is back on American soil, living in the quiet of the Arizona ranch that belonged to his late father. There he lives with Maria Beltran and her granddaughter, Gabriela. When Gabriela heads into Mexico to look for her absent father, she is betrayed and murdered. Rambo decides to find out what happened, and who did it, but things don’t go quite as planned, so Rambo changes the plan.

Watching Sylvester Stallone reprise one of his most memorable characters is always a treat, and here, the complicated hero, grizzled and tired, is still interesting despite seeming far away from the man we’ve seen before. A shame, then, that the film and story in which Rambo finds himself in is such a generic, shallow experience. The shattered soul and war machine contending with the trauma of conflict and death is given surface examination here. The revenge story that culminates in a home invasion/Home Alone scenario harkens back to the traps and tricks offered in First Blood, and entertains to a degree, but it’s all a bit angry and lacks the emotional connection and stakes needed for this character to resonate. Direction by Adrian Grunberg is safe and functional without a sense of space, scope, and offers a dearth of imagination.

Stallone’s haggard portrayal of John Rambo remains the films compelling core, key given the rest of the characters are underwhelming and underwritten. The chief villain, Hugo Martinez, played by Sergio Peris-Mencheta, is evil and little else. Gabriela is played by Yvette Monreal and she does well with her brief appearance, as does Adriana Barraza as Maria. The rest of the cast is stock and forgettable. What I longed for here was the collection of unique characters we got to know in First Blood, the assembly of Sheriff’s deputies, the dog handler, heck, even the guy in the helicopter helping the search was more interesting an element of that film than the cutouts we get here.

Rambo: Last Blood is vengeance fantasy, bloody and brutal and too long even at 89 minutes. It’s an empty experience and a dull, sad end to one of the more interesting characters in cinema.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

First Blood: 5/5

Rambo: First Blood Part II: 5/5

Rambo III: 4.5/5

Rambo: The Fight Continues: 4.5/5

Rambo: Last Blood: 4.5/5

The Rambo collection in 4K is excellent. If you are a fan of the franchise and don’t already have these individual releases, I’d snap this set up in an instance (especially if you are a fan of Steelbook releases). First Blood benefits the most from the upgrade while the two newer films might look the best given their age. The HDR available on the first three films, and the Dolby Vision on the final two, bring out surprising brightness of colors and depth of black levels throughput the picture. Rambo II in particular benefits from HDR grading offering richness in the tanned skin tone and lush greens of the jungles.

The image for First Blood is excellent. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio there is a good balance of color between the brighter opening scene and the drab, gray that pervades the thread of the film as Rambo is hunted through the cold forests. The dreary colors, courtesy Andrew Laszlo’s cinematography, is a critical element of this film’s DNA and success. The one scene that has never seemed quite right to me in previous releases, as Rambo cooks and eats his pig dinner and talks to Trautman, now looks right. It’s dim, with subtle film grain but isn’t a noisy mess.

Rambo: First Blood Part Two is presented in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and it looks excellent. There are times soft shots occasionally, particularly in a few jungle scenes, but appear creative choices and not any issue to note. This is an exceptionally clean image with fine detail. Night scenes are a little bright, perhaps over-delivering the glow of the moon, but that’s another creative choice by the filmmakers than an issue with the transfer.

Rambo III is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and the 4K transfer is filled with terrific detail. The 1080p Blu-ray edition of this film always looked rather good, but with UHD and the HDR grading, everything gets a nice little quality bump.

Rambo (also called Rambo: The Fight Continues and John Rambo) looks sharp in 4k. The stylistic choice of having the film appear slightly sepia tinted, giving the image an almost ‘old photograph’ quality of war footage from the Vietnam era, is highly detailed. The mosquito noise in brighter spots onscreen from the previous Blu-ray releases is gone and the welcome film grain remains natural.

The brightness of the colors benefit from the Dolby Vision grading, too.

Rambo: Last Blood is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 This is a handsome looking production with bright and beautiful shots in the opening. Shot digitally some of the character from the previous films shot on film is missing and the cinematography is suitable but not as rich and mesmerizing as some of the previous entries, parts one and three in particular. Skin tones are warm, and the detail is strong. I may not like the choices made in the look of this film, but those choices seem to be accurately represented here. It’s very digital and some of the obvious visual effects and green screen backgrounds don’t help, but it faithfully reproduced.

Audio: 4.5/5

First Blood: 4.5/5

Rambo: First Blood Part II: 4/5

Rambo III: 4/5

Rambo: 5/5

Rambo: Last Blood: 5/5

The first three films feature healthy DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks (available on the previous Blu-ray collection release), while the more recent Rambo: The Fight Continues and Rambo: Last Blood come with Dolby Atmos tracks.

First Blood’s English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is solid during the action, though, and perhaps not surprisingly, it doesn’t have the same dynamic warmth or completeness of more recent movies. But that is to be expected given the films age. What the audio does manage is a clean delivery of the dialogue and Jerry Goldsmith’s superb score for this little dramatic action film from the early 80’s. The sub-woofer kicks in loudly during the larger explosions, particularly at the gas station when Rambo stages his attack on the town. More could have been done in the surrounds to create a greater sense of ‘being there’ with Rambo as well.

Rambo: First Blood Part II’s effective 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track delivers the multiple machine gun rounds and the combat helicopters produced explosions well. I have never found the bass in this film to be all that booming but it works well when it’s really needed. Dialogue is crisp and surround effects are found in the multiple shootouts and Rambo’s rainstorm suit-up and revenge hunt. Jerry Goldsmith’s superb score, with more electronics than he used for his First Blood music, is both of its time and agelessly memorable. Fans should seek out the expanded CD produced be the wonderful Intrada record label as soon as it’s back in stock.

Presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, the audio in the Rambo III is not always as effective as expected.  However, the frequent and rambunctious action sequences still come with fine audio accompaniments and some involving surrounds effects, particularly during the helicopter attach on the Afghan camp. Low frequency effects bring about some terrific rumbles and dialogue in the center channel is clean and clear. Composer Jerry Goldsmith’s final Rambo score is alternately soft and bombastic, and rich with themes, sounding great.

Rambo: The Fight Continues delivers a powerful Dolby Atmos track (or English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track if you are not yet Atmos equipped), and it packs a serious punch during the battle sequences and effective space for Bryan Tyler’s capable score. There are a few scenes in the film set during heavy rain and storms and the surrounds put you directly during the downpour. Dialogue in the center channel predominantly is issue free but the real power comes from the bass and subwoofer as the bullets smack into bodies. The thump of bullet hits can be felt in the chest at times, especially during the carnage of the final showdown. Powerful, punchy, clean, and immersive.

Rambo: Last Blood: 5/5

The final film in the Rambo franchise offers a throaty audio experience with a solid Atmos offering. An excellent use of surround sound and bellowing LFE, subwoofer performance anchor the audio. Dialogue is well balanced in the center channel. Brian Tyler’s score is suitable to the film and sounds good throughout. The finale is, unsurprisingly, filled with the film’s best audio performance and is fully enveloping. It deserved a better film.

Special Features: 4.5/5

This collection comes with a healthy supply of special features ported from previous releases. Audio commentaries are available on the 4K discs with the remaining extras showing up on the accompanying Blu-rays.

First Blood: 4.5/5

Audio Commentary with Sylvester Stallone: –A thoughtful and intelligent commentary is provided here by co-screenplay writer and star, Sylvester Stallone. One of the most interesting parts of the commentary is Stallone sharing his fervent reservations about taking on this character and how, during the rise of the conservatives in America, the character and story were a risk. He also mentions where certain deleted scenes would take place and overall, provides one of the more engaging commentary tracks that I have heard

Audio Commentary with author David Morrell: Energetic commentary track by the author of the novel from which the story and the Rambo character were born. Morrell appreciates this adaptation, celebrating the triumphs and quite often reflecting on the differences between his source novel and the finished film.  His observations and calling out of interesting trivia (especially the mine rats) are most definitely worth listening to.

Alternate Ending/Deleted Scene: –Though short, the first alternate ending is surprising, even shocking. The flashback deleted scene would have upset the general tone of the sequence it was cut from and was best left out. The last deleted scene is more of an outtake and is good for a quick chuckle.

Making Of – Drawing First Blood: – (22:33) –A good look at First Blood and how it became a metaphor for the effects of the Vietnam War on America. The thought of Kirk Douglas playing the role of Trautman raises some interesting questions about how it could have been.

Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1

Outtake

The Restauration

The Real Nam

Forging Heroes

How to Become Rambo Part 1

Original Trailer

 

Rambo: First Blood Part II: 4/5

A good collection of special features. The audio commentary is available on both the 4K and Blu-ray with the remaining extras on the Blu-ray. Some of the newer interview commentary doesn’t seem complimentary but they recognize the fantasy and absurdity of the approach used here – the one-man army – and that’s part of the film’s lasting charm, frankly.

(Only feature on the 4k disc) Audio Commentary with director George P. Cosmatos: –I find the late George P Cosmatos an interesting man to listen to, but not a particularly engaging commentator on this track. He has much information to share and does so with an odd and restrained excitement.

We Get to Win This Time: – (20:02) –A nice insight into the Cameron version of the script and the direction he wanted to take the film is provided early on here, as well as how the direction for rescuing American POW’s was decided upon by those writing the film. George P. Cosmatos shares the search for locations that would double for Vietnam and how best to capture that feel.

Rambo Takes the 80s Part 2

Action in the Jungle

The Last American POW

Sean Baker – Fulfilling a Dream

Interview with Sylvester Stallone

Interview with Richard Crenna

Behind the Scenes

The Restauration

How to Become Rambo Part 2

Original Trailer

Original TV Spots

Rambo III: 4.5/5

Audio Commentary with director Peter MacDonald: –Director MacDonald provides a reasonably interesting commentary track but does seem absent at times.

Deleted Scenes:–8 deleted scenes that include an alternate opening (with a great crane shot) and two alternate endings (though one is more of a joke than a legitimate choice for the films close).

Afghanistan: Land in Crisis: – (29:45) – This featurette, with archival footage of Afghanistan, discusses the choice for setting the third chapter in the troubled, rough-terrain land. The history shared reveals a complexity of the land not often heard. This is the kind of quality extra that expands upon the appreciation and understanding of the film itself.

Rambo Takes the 80s Part 3

Full Circle

An (sic) Hero’s Journey

Rambo’s Survival Hardware

Interview with Sylvester Stallone

Guts and Glory

Behind the Scenes

The Restauration

Trautman & Rambo

How to Become Rambo Part 3

Original Trailer

Original TV Spots

Rambo: The Fight Continues: 4.5/5

Audio Commentary with Sylvester Stallone (4k Theatrical version only): –Stallone provides another insightful and interesting audio commentary. He is a little more subdued this time around but can provide good information on the production and the choices made in the film. Again, an easy recommend to hear.

Rambo: To Hell & Back Director’s Production Diaries: 51 chapters of special features covering 51 days of production. This is the only special feature available on the included Blu-ray with the remaining extra’s, surprisingly, all found on the 4k disc.

Deleted Scenes: – (15:00) –Four deleted scenes that can be played individually or with the ‘Play All’ function. These additional, discarded scenes, the majority of which occur from before the missionaries made it into Burma, don’t really add much to the final film and were appropriately left out. The film, as it stands, works just fine.

Legacy of Despair: The Struggle in Burma: – (10:41) –This is a valuable featurette, giving a brief history of the country and an evaluation of its horrific situation. The devastating treatment of monks after an organized protest is especially horrifying. Be warned, some of the footage is quite disturbing.

It’s A Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon: – (19:52) –Stallone, producers and writers discuss bringing the character back to life, from audience reaction to finding a story worthy of getting Stallone back into the role. Stallone shares alternate ideas, which is quite revealing, and lends more intrigue and satisfaction with the plot and story that were ultimately chosen. It does also bode well for the possibilities of further installments.

A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo: – (6:40) –A discussion of how best to tribute and use Goldsmith’s wonderful score. Brian Tyler appears the right mold of character, musically at least, to treat the Goldsmith legacy right. Stallone also shares his thoughts on the process; on Goldsmith and the work of Brian Tyler finding the right music for the scenes. Tyler wrote two new main themes for the film to work in league with Goldsmith’s score and they are very effective in the film.

The Art of War: Completing Rambo –  Part One: Editing: – (6:46) –Interview with Editor Sean Albertson and Stallone on cutting the movie. Albertson first worked with Stallone on Rocky Balboa and so it seems fitting that he was present in resurrecting another icon.

The Art of War: Completing Rambo –  Part Two: Sound: – (3:16) –Interview with editor Sean Albertson and sound editors on getting the sound right for the film.

The Weaponry of Rambo: – (14:23) –Interview with Kent Johnson, property master and Stallone on getting the weapons and other items right. The detail achieved, at the hand of the property master, is impressive.

A Hero’s Welcome: Release & Reaction: – (9:30) –A bit of a fluff piece covering the big event premiere in Las Vegas. The segment that discusses reaction from soldiers is of note and this extra becomes elevated when discussing the oppressive regime in Burma.

Theatrical Trailer

Rambo: Last Blood: 2/5

Light handful of special features for this final film the best of which covers the music from the series and features composer Brian Tyler.

Drawing Last Blood: Multi Part Production Diary

From First Note to Last Blood: Music for the Massacres

Theatrical Trailer

Overall: 4.5/5

From the drifter caught up in America’s anti-Vietnam sentiment after returning home from that war, to an aging recluse of a man who acts like a missionary with a machine gun, bringing retribution rather than religion, Rambo is a true cinematic icon and a success to varying degrees. The series lost much of its intelligence after the first film, but never really lost the core of the character; a tortured soul looking for peace while bringing destruction and justice to bad people in situations in which he would rather not be.

This Ultra High Definition Steelbook release, a Best Buy exclusive, is terrific. The outer box is at risk for dents, no doubt, but the individual Steelbooks for the 5 films are nicely secured inside and, most importantly, the quality of the discs top-notch. This handsome and high-quality set is highly recommended for franchise fans and Steelbook lovers.

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Dave Moritz

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If I had not already gone out and purchased all the Rambo movies on 4K blu-ray I would have purchased this set. I know Rambo III in 4K is not pictured below but I have added it to my collection. The first movie is my absolute favorite of the franchise but I enjoy them all!

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