Rambo: First Blood Part II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This wasn’t a showcase image but it largely worked well.
Sharpness usually worked fine. Interiors tended to be somewhat thick, and that reduced accuracy, but overall delineation appeared satisfactory, and daytime exteriors could offer excellent clarity.
I noticed no jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes remained absent. With a fine layer of grain, I suspected no egregious digital noise reduction, and print flaws stayed minor, with only a couple of tiny blemishes on display.
The palette of Rambo favored greens and tans, and the disc showed these tones well. The hues seemed accurate and distinctive, and they presented no signs of noise, bleeding or other issues. HDR didn’t add much to the presentation, but the colors still looked pretty well-rendered.
Black levels came across as deep and rich but shadows were a bit iffy. As noted, low-light situations tended to be somewhat too dark; I thought day-for-night photography caused a lot of those issues, but still felt the movie could be awfully dense. Even with various drawbacks, I felt this turned into a generally positive presentation.
While fine for its era, I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rambo offered somewhat inconsistent audio. The soundtrack provided a decent soundfield, as the forward spectrum dominated the proceedings and offered reasonably good spread across the front at times.
However, those elements seemed erratic. During some scenes - like an early one with a jet engine - the front channels showed good breadth and activity.
On other occasions, though, they reverted to almost monaural despite the presence of effects and music that could spread across the front. Surround usage seemed minimal, as the rear speakers contributed little more than general reinforcement of the front spectrum.
Audio quality appeared acceptable but not great. Dialogue seemed a little flat but the lines generally sounded reasonably distinct and they lacked any signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music lacked much range, as the score consistently came across as moderately thin and lifeless.
Effects varied. At times they packed a solid punch, but on other occasions, they seemed wan and failed to deliver much low-end material.
Loud sounds kicked the bass to life, but the rest of the track seemed less vivid. In the end, Rambo: First Blood Part II presented audio that appeared decent for its era, but it lacked consistent force.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2008? Audio remained identical, as both discs sported the same DTS-HD MA track.
Visuals became a different story, as the 4K offered improvements. It showed superior definition as well as fewer print flaws and a generally more natural feel. The 4K delivered a nice step up in quality over the Blu-ray.
On the 4K UHD itself, one extra appears: an audio commentary from director George P. Cosmatos, who delivers a running, screen-specific piece. Boy, does this track stink! For one, vast amounts of time pass between many of the director’s remarks; the commentary suffers from tons of dead space.
When Cosmatos does provide information, it tends to be rudimentary and technical, as he generally talks about some simple camera techniques and he rarely tells us anything of substance. I doubt that even die-hard Rambo fans will enjoy this boring track.
The included Blu-ray Disc provides a slew of extras, and we begin with a documentary called We Get to Win This Time. It goes for 20 minutes, three seconds and features actors Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Julia Nickson, and Charles Napier, director George P. Cosmatos, First Blood novelist David Morrell, executive producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar, producer Buzz Feitshans, and editors Mark Helfrich and Mark Goldblatt.
My main complaint about “Win” stems from its 20-minute running time, as it seems awfully brief. However, the material itself provides a nice little look at the film.
The program covers the origins of the movie with its James Cameron-authored script and progresses through a variety of production issues. We hear about locations, sets, editing, and a mix of other topics. All of this seems interesting and useful, but it rushes through things to a moderate degree.
Overall, the show is quite good, but it’s too short. And what’s up with the Brando lighting afforded Cosmatos? They hid him in shadows just like Colonel Kurtz!
Next comes Rambo Takes the 80s Part 2, an 11-minute, 37-second reel with Morell, professional bodybuilder Danny Hester, Rambo III director Peter Macdonald, ShortList Magazine editor Joe Mackertich, actor/writer/producer Nick Moran, film critics Anna Smith and Kevin Maher, and digital editor Adam Woodward. We also get circa 1985 comments from actors Richard Crenna and Sylvester Stallone.
“80s” looks at the sequel’s premise and story, character and thematic elements, production specifics, Stallone’s physique, and reflections of the era. Like its predecessor, “Part 2” throws out an occasional nugget but it seems unfocused and scattered, factors that make it a spotty program.
With Action in the Jungle, we find a seven-minute, 40-second featurette. Created in 1985 to promote Rambo, we hear from Stallone, Cosmatos, Nickson, Crenna, helicopter pilot Ross Young, special effects coordinator Tom Fisher and stunt coordinator Diamond Farnsworth.
Inevitably, “Action” mainly exists to sell the movie. Still, it includes some good shots from the set, so it’s worth a look.
Another reel from 1985, The Last American POW brings a two-minute, 15-second clip with Stallone, Crenna and former POW Robert Garwood. “Last” gives us brief thoughts about the film’s premise that POWs remained in Vietnam. It’s too short to tell us much.
Also from 1985, Fulfilling a Dream spans two minutes, 16 seconds and features Stallone. It tells us a First Blood obsessed cancer patient who got to hang out with Stallone. It offers a decent feel-good piece.
Two more 1985 clips follow, as we get interviews with Sylvester Stallone (2:11) and Richard Crenna (1:33). Neither one tells us much of interest, and we’ve already seen much of the content wrapped into prior featurettes.
Behind the Scenes occupies two minutes, 17 seconds and provides raw footage from the set. It seems moderately interesting, but like so many other elements on this disc, it’s too brief.
The Restauration runs one minute, two seconds and shows before/after examples of the movie’s clean-up. Why is it called “restauration” and not “restoration”?
Because it was apparently created for a French Blu-ray. It also reads “avant” and “apres” instead of “before” and “after”. It’s a fairly useless reel.
In addition to a trailer and seven TV spots, we wrap up with How to Become Rambo Part 2. In this 14-minute, 32-second featurette, we hear from bodybuilding coach Dr. Franco Columbu.
We learn about Stallone’s workout regimen for First Blood Part 2. I’m not sure why this got split into multiple parts and why it doesn’t entirely reside on this disc, but I guess it’s painless enough if you want to get some exercise tips.
Rambo: First Blood Part II remains a dominant piece of the 1980s, but that doesn’t actually make it a good movie. Rambo lacks the depth and heart to make it a success, as it mostly just runs up a big body count. The 4K delivers good picture and audio as well as a long but largely superficial collection of supplements. The 4K becomes the strongest version of the film yet released.
To rate this film visit the original review review of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II