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Rambo: First Blood Part II(1985)
Ex-Green Beret and Vietnam vet John Rambo is sent on assignment back to Southeast Asia to uncover evidence of still missing POWs, and ends up with his hands full when he comes up against Vietnamese soldiers still guarding the camps, the Russian military that oversees them, and the American State department officials who apparently sent him there fully knowing that he'd be taking on a doomed mission.
For more about Rambo: First Blood Part II and the Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray release, see Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 20, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier, Julia Nickson, Steven Berkoff, Martin Kove
Director: George P. Cosmatos
» See full cast & crew
Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray Review
One of the definitive 1980s action movies finally comes to Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 20, 2008
Do we get to win this time?
Second only to Commando in the ranking of "most iconic action film of the 1980s," Rambo: First Blood Part II carries on the tradition of a one-man army laying waste to entire armies, this time that of both Communist Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Also like Commando, the action hero definitely relies on braun over brains. Large muscles, explosive-tipped arrows, machine guns, and the iconic Rambo survival knife definitely portray the "peace through superior firepower" mantra of the decade that saw the victory in the Cold War for the United States and the collapse of the Soviet Union. While not even coming close to achieving the level of unmitigated excellence of the first film which introduced us to the John Rambo character (First Blood), the sequel nevertheless ups the ante considerably in terms of action, body count, and mayhem. Like the first film, this sequel also features a heartfelt and patriotic speech by Rambo at the end of the film about the importance of accepting Vietnam veterans and the role they played in defending freedom halfway around the world.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone, Rambo) has been incarcerated in a manual labor prison as a result of his actions in First Blood. Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna, The Sand Pebbles) calls on Rambo for yet another mission inside of Vietnam, offering him a full pardon for his services. The mission: to gather intelligence on a Vietnamese camp where there still may be several American prisoners of war some ten years after the cessation of hostilities. Rambo agrees. His incursion into enemy territory is botched, and he is feared dead. Col. Trautman, however, convinces the man behind the operation, Marshall Murdock (Charles Napier, Annapolis) to give Rambo the 36 hours promised and return for him at the designated coordinates. Indeed, Rambo survives, and teams up with a Vietnamese woman, Co Bao (Julia Nickson, K2), who has been assigned to aid him. Together, they must infiltrate the prison camp, find the POWs, and take on an enemy even more cunning, ruthless, and cold-hearted than either the Vietnamese or the Soviets.
Rambo: First Blood Part II is a tour-de-force of 1980s-style action, an over-the-top, completely unrealistic, relentless movie that is one part conspiracy, two parts cat-and-mouse, and all action. The film shares much in common with Chuck Norris's Missing In Action, that film released some six months prior to this one. Of course, the 1980s was all about Vietnam, that war the subject of both classics (Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Full Metal Jacket) and clunkers (Platoon Leader). Despite the excellence of the award-winning and highly celebrated films listed above, Rambo: First Blood Part II is nevertheless one of the most iconic and widely recognized of the Vietnam films. It's even been widely parodied in movies such as Hot Shots! Part Deux and UHF, the latter being so brilliant in its mocking that I cannot even watch the second Rambo film without thinking of it. It's not that the story itself is timeless, or that the movie itself is brilliant that makes it so well-known. Rather, it's the film's star, Sylvester Stallone, and the world-famous character he portrays, whose presence, stature, skill, and relentlessness certainly helped define America both at home and abroad in the 1980s.
Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rambo: First Blood Part II engages on Blu-ray with a mixed-bag video quality. This 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 framed transfer is definitely the best I've ever seen this movie look on home video, but the results are far from top-tier. The image is best described as "solid" overall, the film definitely benefitting from the high definition treatment, but it is not without some annoyances. The print itself is clean, free of any severe defects, save for an odd blue line that popped up several times, noted at the following time frames: 31:30, 52:00, and 55:20. There may have been others, they last for only a split-second. At times, the image lacked depth, and it rarely seemed to pop off the screen. Colors proved to be rich and natural, the brightly colored daytime shots of the jungles of "Vietnam" (the movie was actually filmed in Mexico) appearing splendid, such scenes the deepest and most pleasing to be found in the movie. There is a bit of softness about the image, many scenes lacking sharp, defined edges, some appearing as if a fine haze surrounded the actors. Black levels are excellent, a scene in chapter three where Rambo boards the plane at nighttime is perhaps the best example of the solid black levels offered by this transfer. Detail is also better than ever in this edition of Rambo: First Blood Part II. I've seen the film countless times, and I never noticed the now clearly-visible scar on Rambo's right arm, maintaining continuity with the first movie, the wound a remnant of the gash he himself sewed up in First Blood. Flesh tones appeared to be problem-free. Several scenes exhibit some intentionally diffused lighting, such instances director intent rather than a flaw with the disc. On the whole, I'm neither thrilled nor overly disappointed with this transfer. It's about what I expected, maybe a half-point lower, but despite some issues, rest assured that Rambo: First Blood Part II has never looked as good as it does here.
Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Perhaps the best way to describe the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless sound mix found on Rambo: First Blood Part II is to call it "adequate." It gets the job done but nevertheless leaves a bit to be desired. There is a definite lack of presence in the rear channels. Only occasionally is sound to be heard in the surround channels, the result a front-heavy, decidedly lacking-in-atmosphere and oomph soundtrack. A sequence featuring a steady downpour of rain in chapter 12 is fairly enveloping and is definitely the best use of ambient sound in the movie. Music is also at times heard playing in the back speakers, but with little volume. Bass and power are two qualities that are noticeably lacking in this soundtrack as well. As Rambo leaves for the mission on a jet, the sound is surprisingly underwhelming, the jet engine not packing much of a punch, but upon take-off we do hear a bit of movement from front to rear as the plane seemingly flies over our heads. The track simply lacks a booming authority, disappointing for an action film of this calibre. A heavy machine gun attack on a boat in chapter seven is perhaps the most disappointing listen of the soundtrack, the shots ringing out flat and dull with barely a thump or thud. In fact, all of the explosions in the movie hardly pack a wallop. Dialogue plays a major role in the movie, political gamesmanship and intrigue definitely adding to the story, and this is one aspect of the track that excels. While I wasn't disappointed with the video quality simply because I didn't expect much more than what we saw, I am let down by this film's sound mix. It's not a total loss, but it's best to lower your expectations going in.
Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Leading off a supplemental section that lacks quantity but definitely not quality is a commentary by director George P. Cosmatos. Cosmatos' accent is thick and sometimes hard to understand, but he does manage to keep his audience engaged and interested in what he has to say about the film. Covering set design, filming locations, problems that plagued the production, and his filming techniques, Cosmatos has provided a complete commentary track that goes fairly in-depth into every nook and cranny of the film. This track proves interesting not just for Rambo fans but also for anyone interested in the filmmaking process, Cosmatos providing some wonderful insights into numerous aspects of the film and the process of making it. Next up is a documentary entitled We Get to Win This Time (480p, 20:04). A highly interesting piece, this documentary examines the origins of the script from the initial draft by famed director James Cameron to the suggestion that John Travolta play alongside Sylvester Stallone. The feature moves along in a rather straightforward by nevertheless fascinating manner, showcasing the oftentimes bland discussion about the choice of director, for example, with a flair and excitement rarely seen in these types of extras. This is 20 minutes of fascinating entertainment, ranking as one of the finer documentaries out there. Finally, an Out of the Blu Trivia Track concludes the extras, this feature providing viewers with pop-up windows that offer numerous and interesting nuggets of information played over the film.
Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Rambo: First Blood Part II is a true American classic, not because of the strength of the film but because of the stature of its hero. John Rambo defined a generation and his brute strength, cunning, size, and perhaps most important of all, his heart, struck fear into America's enemies and brought home a sense of pride and respect domestically. John Rambo is the classic action hero, and while Rambo: First Blood Part II isn't the best film of the Rambo series, it's definitely the most widely recognized. This Blu-ray edition is good, but decidedly unspectacular. The video quality is about as expected, but the audio quality definitely leaves the viewer wanting a more engaging and exciting experience. The supplemental materials are average in quality and quantity, certainly a nice addition to the disc but hardly comprehensive. Nevertheless, Lionsgate has priced this film, its sequel, and the box set of the first three Rambo films handsomely, making this film, or the entire series, hard to pass up. Recommended.
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Rambo: First Blood Part II Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Specs for Rambo Blu-ray Releases - March 11, 2008
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has revealed the specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray releases of 'Rambo: First Blood Part II', 'Rambo III', and 'Rambo' which are scheduled to be released on May 27th. The forth installment in the series, 'Rambo', will ...
• May 27th is Blu-ray Rambo Day - March 5, 2008
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will release 'Rambo' on Blu-ray May 27th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Additionally, they will release 'Rambo: First Blood Part II' and 'Rambo III' on Blu-ray the same day. They will join the previously ...
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