Rambo: First Blood Part II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an up and down image.
Actually, the presentation could be strong at times, but it also came with problems. Sharpness became one of the erratic components. While a lot of the movie showed positive clarity and definition, definite instances of softness materialized.
Most of these came during interiors, where the image could take on a rather hazy appearance. Still, general definition was nice, and I noticed no jaggies or shimmering. Source flaws were minor and limited to a few streaks, though the transfer could wobble a bit.
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.
Black levels came across as deep and rich but shadows were a bit iffy. 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. All of this made Rambo an often attractive but inconsistent presentation.
While fine for its era, I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rambo offered the weakest audio of the first three movies. The soundtrack provided a decent soundfield. 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 the force of the other two movies in the series.
Three extras appear here. Taken from an earlier DVD, a documentary called We Get to Win This Time: The Rambo Phenomenon goes for 22 minutes, 32 seconds. We hear from 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 22-minute running time; 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!)
Another old component, we get 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; 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.
For something new, we find Out of the Blu, a running trivia track. This uses the pop-up format to give us a mix of production notes. These don’t appear as frequently as I’d like, but they offer some useful information. They’re certainly infinitely more valuable than Cosmatos’ awful commentary.
The disc opens with an ad for the 2008 Rambo film. No other trailers appear here.
Rambo: First Blood Part II stands as one of those time capsule movies; when asked to define pop culture in the Eighties, it must come up in any discussions. However, 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 Blu-ray delivers erratic but generally good picture and audio as well as two interesting bonus features and a terrible audio commentary. Though not a great Blu-ray, this marks the strongest home video representation of the film.
To rate this film visit the original review review of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II