Rambo Trilogy 4K
review by Bobby Blakey
Sylvester Stallone is one of those few action icons that has managed to kick start more than one successful franchise. In 1982 Stallone took on an all-new role with First Blood that should have been a one off film with the title character dying at the end, but thanks to a change in script kicked off the Rambo franchise spawning two sequels in the 80s and then another chapter years later in 2008. Now Lionsgate is bringing the original three home on 4K Ultra.
First Blood follows an ex-Green Beret haunted by memories of Vietnam, he was once the perfect killing machine. Now he's searching for peace, but finds instead an over-zealous, small-town sheriff who's spoiling for a fight. All hell breaks loose when an unjustly imprisoned Rambo escapes and becomes the target of a massive manhunt. Now he must use all his cunning, combat skills and weapons training to stay alive and outwit his pursuers. This is one of those rare action films that is so much more than the usual entries in the genre. Sure there is plenty of action, but there is so much more emotion and struggle within Rambo himself. This makes you feel more for the character and what he is going through which is a crime in itself. At the same time the outcome offers up a more realistic approach as opposed to somehow him getting away with everything. The original ending had Rambo being killed and while would have made more of an impactful stamp on this great film, but in the bigger picture we wouldn’t have gotten the iconic franchise we have now.
In the 1985 sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II sees John Rambo removed from prison by his former superior, Colonel Samuel Troutman, for a top-secret operation to bring back POW's still held in Vietnam. Rambo's assignment is to only take pictures of where the POWs are being held, but Rambo wants to get the POWs out of Vietnam. Teamed up with female Vietnamese freedom fighter Co Bao, Rambo embarks on a mission to rescue the POWs, who are being held by sadistic Vietnamese Captain Vinh and his Russian comrade, Lieutenant Colonel Padovsky. Rambo starts killing every enemy in sight while still focusing on his intentions to rescue the POWs. There are also corrupt American officials involved in the mission, including Marshall Murdock, one of Rambo's superiors.
In 1988 the next chapter Rambo III hit theaters and followed John Rambo's former Vietnam superior, Colonel Samuel Trautman, who has been assigned to lead a mission to help the Mujahedeen rebels who are fighting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but the Buddhist Rambo turns down Trautman's request that Rambo help out. When the mission goes belly up and Trautman is kidnapped and tortured by Russian Colonel Zaysen, Rambo launches a rescue effort and allies himself with the Mujahedeen rebels and gets their help in trying to rescue Trautman from Zaysen. This entry has a slow burn before it really gets to anything other than Rambo walking around trying to be at peace outside of a Thai stick fight. Eventually it does get down to the action and offers up all the violent Rambo fun fans want from the character. There isn’t as much of the depth to the character this time around, but it still manages to entertain like only Rambo can.
These releases all feature varying bonus content including commentaries, featurettes, trailers, deleted scenes, and more. Strap on your head band and sharpen your blade to get in the fight with Fist Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo 3 available now on 4K Ultra HD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.