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Ghost Canyon

'Rambo: First Blood: 4K Ultra HD + Digital'
(Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / (1982) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Stallone stars as the iconic John Rambo, alongside Golden Globe® winner Brian Dennehy (Best Actor, Death of a Salesman, 2000), Richard Crenna, and David Carusso in this explosive action-thriller, available on 4K for the first time ever.

Two-time Academy Award® nominee Sylvester Stallone (Best Actor, Rocky, 1976; Best Supporting Actor, Creed, 2015) stars in the role that made him an action movie legend when 'Rambo: First Blood' arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) November 13th from Lionsgate.

4K Ultra HD Verdict: Lionsgate Films continues to expand their 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray catalog offerings this month with the release of the widely-beloved Stallone classic, 'Rambo: First Blood' in the new 4K home video format on November 13th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Rambo: First Blood: 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital' combo pack's sharpness takes a fairly large step forward from others in their 4K Ultra HD catalog and even comes with HDR (High Dynamic Range) for the complete 4K Ultra HD experience, of course.

So, what we have is 'Rambo: First Blood' (or, as it's kinda meant to be simply known as just 'First Blood') presented to us as a two-disc combo pack with a sheet for a Digital HD Copy.

Other stand out points you should know are: Codec: HEVC / H.265; Resolution: Native 4K (2160p); HDR: HDR10; Aspect ratio: 2.35:1; Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1.

Featuring Dolby Vision and HDR10 for brighter, deeper, and way more lifelike colors, as with most all 4K UHD's, everything that we watch features these qualities - but somehow, this film gloriously shines within them all.

Noticeably crisper with the overall clarity receiving an obvious boost here on this release, what's more is that it's enjoyably noticeable. For as well as some new nuances to the somewhat drab palette courtesy of Dolby Vision we also get to witness sudden bright pops of color; like in the forest hunt scenes, as Rambo stalks/captures his protagonists one by one. It just all comes more vividly to life now there in the forest. Which is amazing to see, in truth.

Indeed, the picture enjoys the fruits of the added resolution in terms of bringing out the aforementioned extremely fine facial and some of the yellow graded material (notably some scenes, much like the Police Station scene, where Rambo has one of his first group fights) now have a kind of honeyed amber appearance. Which is interesting, and at least a little different from the 1080p Blu-ray accounting.

As for the audio, well we have: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.

Overall, this is a very strong 4K HDR Blu-ray presentation, and, for the most part, the audio track remains fairly similar to its DTS-HD counterpart; with much of the action occupying the surrounds with outstanding directionality and placement where effects flawlessly pan between the sides and rears.

Phew! OK, so, as for the movie itself, Sylvester Stallone stars as John Rambo: a lonely, alienated, and troubled Vietnam vet just trying to move on with his life until he gets unlawfully provoked over a misunderstanding, and finds himself in a war against a sheriff's department and the national guard.

The fight doesn't seem fair, mostly because Rambo is outnumbered, but all bets are off since he's a former Green Beret, and he's had a really hard time moving on with his life.

Unlike the sequels, this one is (for the majority of the run time) more of a dramatic survival story and not a balls-out action film. I really loved the focus on stealth and guerrilla tactics over pure brute force. It's a great character study with focus on vet's rights, PTSD, and intolerance.

It does get kinda preachy, but nevertheless is still very compelling and gripping. Sylvester Stallone is wonderful. He shows off his action skills, and he's great as expected, but where things really shine is with the character and the acting.

The action is a main part of who he is, but he's still a flawed and rounded character. Stallone really has to act here at times too, delivering what's still the most dramatic monologue of his career that actually sees him breakdown in tears. It's not often you see something like this, much less have it actually be really powerful and moving. Bravo.

For supporters, we get a young David Caruso that's kinda fun to watch, but the main support that really holds the film up is with Brian Dennehy as the determined narrow minded sheriff and Richard Crenna as Rambo's mentor- perhaps the only one capable of bringing the senseless conflict to an end.

Both are great, and this is some of their best work. You sort of sympathize with the sheriff a bit, but probably not as much as you should. The film really paints it as Rambo good, everyone else bad, and that's a shame that they didn't go for a bit more complexity or moral ambiguity in that area.

Things fare better with Crenna's character, but he too could have been a tad more developed. That's really my only major issue here: the film is a bit too one sided, and towards the end, things just kinda start crumbling.

I get how Rambo said that if they kept pushing he'd really ramp it up, but when this all happens it just took me out of it all somewhat, and seemed a bit inconsistent. Fortunately things don't crap out too much, and the film does conclude pretty satisfactorily.

It's just the lead up to the climax where it has its stumble. The film is well shot, the locations are great, there's pretty strong direction, neat ideas, and, probably most effective next to the acting, we get Jerry Goldsmith's absolutely thrilling and brilliant score. I still get chills every time I hear the opening notes to the main theme. EVERY time.

Anyway, that's that, for the most part, so now let's concentrate on the 4K Ultra HD's special features, with one of them being a brand new, never-before-seen featurette, “Rambo Takes the 80’s Part 1” (which looks back at the incredible impact of this evergreen film).

Running at a solid 18 minutes, it covers the franchise's legacy from the very off via various conversations (and voice overs) from people associated with the creation of the film. Interspersed with numerous film scenes, it's not astoundingly fantastic, as far as new material goes for an older film, but it does give a little more insight into how 'First Blood' came to be.

All the other Special Features have been seen and reviewed before, at length, but the one that I will redo is the still really interesting "Making Of" Featurette. Running at 23 minutes, this archival piece with interviews also includes behind the scenes footage and film clips.

Available for the First Time on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack and including Dolby Vision™, this is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via 1080p and comes with the aforementioned Special Features of:

· Audio Commentary by Sylvester Stallone
· Audio Commentary by David Morrell

· NEW: “Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1” Featurette
· “Making Of” Featurette
· Alternate Ending
· Outtake
· Deleted Scene
· “Restoration” Featurette
· “The Real Nam” Featurette
· “Forging Heroes” Featurette
· “How to Become Rambo Part 1” Featurette
· Audio Commentary by Sylvester Stallone
· Audio Commentary by David Morrell
· Theatrical Trailer

Amazon Purchase Link