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Rambo: First Blood Part II - 4K Blu-ray Review

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For a very long time, I wished that First Blood had been a one and done deal. But it arrived in the 1982, and anything from the 80s onward that made the studios money would like get a sequel with a roman numeral next to it. The remainder of that decade saw Sly return twice to his second most famous character, and the follow-up, Rambo: First Blood Part II, unfortunately would be the beginning of my disinterest.

"Rambo: First Blood Part II is a letdown of the grandest scale."


As a little segue for film history buffs: this movie was co-written by James Cameron (which Sly massively rewrote afterward). Cameron was in a holding pattern, waiting for Schwarzenegger to finish the next Conan, so they could shoot The Terminator. So he took on a couple of writing assignments: this one, and Aliens, at the same time.

This one finds John Rambo still incarcerated after his stoush with the Sheriff’s department in small town America. Troutman (Crenna) has finagled a deal for Rambo’s release IF he’ll go on a secret mission back to Vietnam to confirm whether or not there are still American POWs interred there. Quickly, we are introduced to macho one note stereotypes of bureaucracy (Alan Napier) and military hard-asses (Karate Kid’s Steven Berkoff) that are diametrically opposed to Rambo’s no side ethos and his methods. As soon as Rambo goes off mission, unprofessional assholery ensues from his detractors and Rambo is left to escape the Vietnamese military, the Russian Army and backstabbery galore.

This film is choked with unrealistic characterizations, insulting stereotypes (the ‘love interest’ YIKES), and a cartoon character lead, where there was once a relatable man. It may have a roman numeral on it to connect it to the first film, but that’s where the connection ends. Now, there are certainly attempts throughout to be topical, but the execution is so far removed from reality that those noble intentions are lost.Rambo-first-blood2

What you do get in spades is Rambo cutting sick on bad guys, and saving the day with his one man army skills. It’s ridiculous to watch the man escape multiple situations where an army wouldn’t escape the firepower being thrown at them, and take down choppers with a bow and arrow. It is 80s kitsch at its’ finest—a pure testosterone laden guilty (or un-guilty) pleasure—and if that’s your wheelhouse then have it.

For this review, Rambo: First Blood Part II is a letdown of the grandest scale. What started as affecting simple story with a guy you can empathize with immediately regressed into a Herculean piss-take with Saturday morning cartoon characters running around the jungle.

NOT GOOD.

2/5 stars

Rambo-first-blood2

4K UHD

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Available on Blu-ray
- November 13, 2018
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD; Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set
Region Encoding: 4K Blu-ray: Region free; 2K Blu-ray: Region A (locked)

VIDEO:

I’m gonna start this one with a vital piece of information: DOP Jack Cardiff took a page out of legendary cinematographer Jeffrey Unsworth’s playbook. He chose a very soft, highly refractive lighting scheme for this movie. As a result, it will look decidedly softer than the first movie, but that isn’t because the scan. What you do get in this 4K native scan is the same level of detail as First Blood. In those night time scenes or darker jungle moments you are getting the same new revelatory uptick in details. Contrast and blacks in those darker scenes are amazing. Finer details, such as radios and computer screen, and the material of the uniforms, the wood on the cages, the layer foliage, all looks fantastic. Grain is intact and subtle. It’s another great job that’s not instantly apparent due to the DOP’s choices.

AUDIO:

Same DTS-HD 5.1 mix from previous versions. It’s a capable mix, with awesome clear dialogue and some layering throughout the channels. It did sound a little light to me through the sub, and action scenes could benefit from more detailed surround channel attention.  

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Audio Commentary by director George P. Cosmatos

Special Features:

All ported over on the Blu-ray, not the 4K, from the previous releases. Blu-ray and digital copy included in this set.

  • NEW "Rambo Takes the '80s Part 2" Featurette
  • "We Get To Win This Time" Featurette
  • "Action in the Jungle" Featurette
  • "The Last American POW" Featurette
  • "Sean Baker – Fulfilling a Dream" Featurette
  • "Interview with Sylvester Stallone" Featurette
  • "Interview with Richard Crenna" Featurette
  • "Behind the Scene" Featurette
  • "How to Become Rambo Part 2" Featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Original TV Spots

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 2/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Rambo-first-blood2

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
96 mins
Director
: George P. Cosmatos
Writer:
David Morrell
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
The Most Dangerous Man in the World is Back!
Memorable Movie Quote: "It's like someone invites you to a party and you don't show up. It doesn't really matter."
Theatrical Distributor:
Carolco Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 22, 1985
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 13, 2018
Synopsis: John Rambo is released from prison by the government for a top-secret covert mission to the last place on Earth he'd want to return - the jungles of Vietnam.

Rambo-first-blood2

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