Rambo III appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This became a consistently positive presentation.
Sharpness was nice most of the time. A few slightly soft shots appeared, but those remained minor, so the image was crisp and well-defined through the vast majority of the film.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no signs of edge haloes. With a good layer of grain, digital noise reduction failed to become an issue, and I witnessed no print flaws.
None of the Rambo films offered bright and vivid palettes, and Rambo III stayed with a pretty subdued color scheme, one that favored an amber tone. However, the 4K UHD represented those tones well, as it showed clear and concise hues throughout the movie. The disc’s HDR capabilities offered a bit more oomph to the colors but it didn’t exaggerate them or make them cartoony.
Black levels came across as deep and dense, while shadow detail seemed fine. I thought this disc presented a strong image that just narrowly fell short of “A”-level standards.
In addition, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix of Rambo III provided strong audio, as the soundfield featured solid use of all five channels and seemed surprisingly active given its age. Most mixes that came out prior to the common use of digital surround in the early Nineties sound pretty dated, but this one held up well.
Rambo III managed to offer a lively and compelling affair, as the various effects always emanated from logical places, and they blended together quite well. Panning and movement between channels was clean and well delineated.
The mix also showed a lot of ambient sound as well as many elements that made this an active piece. The rear channels worked as active partners and even featured a fair amount of split-surround material.
Audio quality also appeared solid. Speech sounded reasonably natural and distinct, and I heard no issues related to edginess or intelligibility.
Music seemed bright and vivid and showed good range. Some explosions occasionally demonstrated a little distortion, but the effects usually came across as clean and vibrant, and they packed a pretty good punch.
Bass sounded slightly boomy at times, but those problems weren’t major. Ultimately, Rambo III provided audio that seemed strong for its era.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray from 2008? Audio appeared to be identical, as both discs seemed to present the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.
Visuals became a different story, as the 4K UHD looked better defined than the Blu-ray, and it presented superior colors, blacks and print cleanliness. I didn’t think the Blu-ray was bad, but the 4K UHD clearly worked better.
On the 4K UHD disc itself, we get an audio commentary from director Peter MacDonald, who delivers a running, screen-specific piece. Though not as bad as the clunker from First Blood Part II director George P. Cosmatos, MacDonald’s chat stands as a fairly weak commentary.
The biggest negative relates to the amount of information he provides. On occasion, extremely long spans of time pass between his statements, and when MacDonald does speak, he often just tells us what we see.
However, MacDonald does periodically manage to provide some good facts about the shoot. MacDonald presents a reasonably candid personality and he offers information about various problems encountered on location. He offers enough information to make the track worthwhile for big fans of the film, but others may find it to seem excessively frustrating.
The package includes a Blu-ray copy of the film, and that’s where we find the rest of the set’s extras. Afghanistan: A Land In Crisis runs 29 minutes, 48 seconds.
“Crisis” spends relatively little time on the film itself. Instead, it offers a quick history lesson about that region.
We get remarks from actors Sylvester Stallone and Richard Crenna, executive producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar, producer Buzz Feitshans, author Larry Goodson, USC professor Richard Dekmejian, found and president of the Media Research Center Brent Bozell, vice president of the Afghanistan Relief Organization Abdul Satar, NYU professor Ella Shohat, UCLA professor Douglas Kellner, former senator Robert K. Dornan, and “LA Weekly” executive editor John Powers.
At times, this program delves into a few issues related to Rambo III, and we learn a little about the locations and some production problems. However, the majority of the documentary provides a quick but concise examination of the recent history of Afghanistan.
It looks at the Soviet military involvement that began in 1979 and mainly sticks with that conflict, though it briefly goes over the roots of the modern US problems there. I consciously decided not to discuss those issues in my review of the movie itself, for I didn’t think they seemed relevant.
Nonetheless, I’m glad the disc features this solid little documentary, for it helps put the circumstances into better perspective. If you want to learn about the making of Rambo III, you’re out of luck, but if you’d like a clear and compelling piece of useful background information, “Crisis” should work for you.
Next comes Rambo Takes the 80s Part 3, a 10-minute, 47-second reel with Macdonald, novelist David Morell, professional bodybuilder Danny Hester, ShortList Magazine editor Joe Mackertich, actor/writer/producer Nick Moran, film critics Anna Smith and Kevin Maher, storyboard artist William Stout, actor Chris Mulkey and digital editor Adam Woodward.
“80s” looks at the development of the action film in the 80s, political themes in Rambo III, production details, and the changes in Rambo over the movies. “Part 3” seems a bit more focused than its scattershot predecessors, so it becomes a decent snapshot.
Next comes Full Circle, a five-minute, 58-second piece. It offers a montage of movie scenes. Why? I have no idea, but it’s a waste of time.
With An American Hero’s Journey, we find a 25-minute, 29-second show with Morell and The Writer’s Journey author Christopher Vogler. “Journey” looks at the roots of Rambo and mythological elements of the character and his story. The show takes a scholarly bent and offers an insightful view of the subject matter.
After this comes Rambo’s Survival Hardware, an eight-minute, 41-second piece that shows all the weaponry our hero used across the movies. We view movies clips and get text overlays to tell us about the equipment. It seems wholly forgettable.
Cut footage arrives via an Alternate Beginning (3:37) and seven Deleted Scenes (7:20). The “Beginning” shows the peril for Americans in Afghanistan before Trautman recruits Rambo, and it feels unnecessary.
As for the deleted scenes, they mix minor bits of exposition with some action. They’re largely forgettable, though a view of what Rambo plans to do post-movie seems moderately interesting.
Up next comes an Interview with Sylvester Stallone. In this eight-minute, 41-second reel, the actor discusses how he came to First Blood as well as aspects of the character and his journey. The reel’s brevity means it doesn’t dig into the topics with great depth, but Stallone manages some good comments.
Guts and Glory runs 27 minutes, 11 seconds and features Stallone, Morell, historian Howard Zinn and a bunch of annoyingly unnamed participants. They cover aspects of the Rambo character as well as how he connected to the Reagan 80s.
“Glory” repeats some themes we heard earlier, but it still delivers a fairly introspective view of the character. It can be a bit scattershot but it does the job.
With Behind the Scenes, we locate a six-minute, eight-second reel that brings a circa 1988 promotional featurette. It includes comments from Stallone, Crenna, stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong and technical advisor Sadiq Tawfiq. A few mildly informative nuggets emerge but most of the reel just tries to sell the movie.
Next we get Trautman and Rambo, another 1988 promo reel. It takes up two minutes, 38 seconds and includes notes from Stallone, Crenna and Morell. Expect more promotional fluff, as it doesn’t tell us much of substance.
The Restauration runs one minute, 21 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 eight TV spots, we wrap up with How to Become Rambo Part 3. In this 15-minute, 12-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 the second movie’s disc, but I guess it’s painless enough if you want to get some exercise tips.
Though it was supposed to make a mint, 1988’s Rambo III tanked and killed the franchise – well, at least until Stallone decided to revive it 20 years later. In its own right, Rambo III isn’t bad, but it certainly doesn’t offer much that seems original or compelling. The 4K UHD offers very good picture and audio along with a pretty solid selection of supplements. Rambo III isn’t much of a movie, but the 4K UHD presents it well.
To rate this film visit the original review review of RAMBO III