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Ghost Canyon

'Rambo III: 4K Ultra HD + Digital'
(Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Marc de Jong, et al / 4K Ultra HD + Blu ray + Digital / R / (1988) 2018 / Lionsgate Films)

Overview: Relive the original action franchise that launched the career of worldwide action icon Sylvester Stallone when 'Rambo III' arrives on 4K Ultra HD™ Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray™ and Digital) November 13th from Lionsgate.

Also starring Marc De Jonge and Curtwood Smith, the film sends John Rambo on a one-man mission to Afghanistan to rescue his former commanding officer Col. Sam Tratman (played by Richard Crenna).

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 III' in the new 4K home video format on November 13th, 2018.

For my money, this 'Rambo III: 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 III 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 brilliant ring fight scene, where surrounded by naysayers and anti-Rambo fans, Rambo does what he does best re: blood flies! It just all comes more vividly to life now. 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 now-well-lit cave fight scene, where Rambo has one of his most vigorous fights in the trilogy, due to the confines of said cave) 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 returns once again to one of his most iconic roles, playing Vietnam Veteran John Rambo; who this time goes to Afghanistan amidst the Soviet Invasion to rescue his Vietnam commander officer, Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna), from being held hostage by the evil Colonel Zaysen (Marc de Jonge).

Stallone, as Rambo, continues to prove he is a force to be reckoned with, wiping away enemy combatants left and right as he displays his very formidable set of fighting and survival skills.

It was satisfying seeing him deal with the arrogant and sinister Marc de Jonge and his merciless army, especially when you see the Afghan citizens in peril. Indeed, him teaming up with the Afghan rebels and the determined Afghan boy served as a good plot element to the story.

The child soldier is a surprisingly well-rounded character even that gives you a very bitter-sweet feeling, sadly it's the only example of clever writing you find in this movie.

Filmed in a fast pace with plenty of action and tension, it is one of Stallone's most intense performances, showing him the will to fight for good and to protect those he trusts and the innocent that are in peril.

Despite some of the cheesy acting, it's a very good action sequel for some edge-of-your-seat excitement. It's visually exciting and director MacDonald, a second unit action director who was made the main director when the original director was fired, knows how to handle this type of action.

Stallone once again gets to run around bare chested and to his credit performs many of his stunts himself. Crenna, thankfully, gets more to do this time around. He gets to stand side by side with Stallone for many of the film's action sequences rather than be merely the father figure suggested in the earlier films.

In closing, and interestingly enough, apparently the Russians withdrew from Afghanistan shortly before the film opened in 1988 thus lessening their value as the villains of the piece!

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 3” (which looks back at the incredible impact of this evergreen film).

Running at a lesser-than-the-first and second part 11 minutes, it continues to cover the franchise's legacy via various conversations (and voice overs) from people associated with the creation of the film.

As aforementioned, the first part 1 of the featurette (which is included on the 1080p Blu-ray included on the first film's 4K UHD release, the second part on the sequel), sets the scene and then takes you by the hand into the actual filming stages.

Whereas this one continues to cover the franchise's legacy with more interviews (notably one interesting one with the original author, David Morrell), by the time it wraps you will know all there ever was to know about the character Rambo and his dirty deeds (done for good!).

As mentioned in the first and second film's 4K UHD reviews, 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 'Rambo III' came to be.

All the other Special Features have been seen and reviewed before, at length, but the two that I will touch on here are both "Rambo's Survival Hardware" and "Afghanistan - A Land in Crisis."

The latter is yet another surprisingly thoughtful and well done piece documenting the nation's long travails that compliments some of the other historically based featurettes the two other releases have offered.

The former looks at some of the tools of Rambo's trade and gives us insight into how he managed to use them so quickly at times of deathly urgency!

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 Peter MacDonald

· NEW: “Rambo Takes the ‘80s Part 3” Featurette
· “Full Circle” Featurette
· “A Hero’s Journey” Featurette
· “Rambo’s Survival Hardware” Featurette
· Alternative Beginning
· Deleted Scenes
· “Interview with Sylvester Stallone” Featurette
· “Afghanistan – A Land in Crisis” Featurette
· “Guts and Glory” Featurette
· “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
· “Trautman & Rambo” Featurette
· “How to Become Rambo Part 3” Featurette
· “Selling a Hero” Featurette
· Audio Commentary by Peter MacDonald
· Theatrical Trailer
· Original TV Spots

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