First Blood (1982)

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Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 89:19
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ted Kotcheff
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Richard Crenna
Brian Dennehy
Bill McKinney
Jack Starrett
Michael Talbott
Chris Mulkey
John McLiam
Alf Humphreys
David Caruso
David L. Crowley
Don MacKay
Charles A. Tamburro
Case ?
RPI Box Music Jerry Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    First Blood (seemingly now renamed Rambo: First Blood) is a great action movie that introduced the character of John Rambo to the big screen, and launched Stallone's other movie franchise.

    Based on David Morrell's novel, the original tagline for First Blood was "This time he's fighting for his life". The reference, of course, was to Stallone's popular Rocky movies. Having just written, directed, and starred in the successful Rocky III, Stallone co-adapted, and starred in First Blood, an action film with a lot more depth than one might expect.

    In its surprisingly low-key opening, a Vietnam Vet, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), drifts into a small town. He is made very unwelcome by the local Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy), and Rambo is arrested for vagrancy. Rambo is a man of few words, haunted by his past, and whilst in gaol, what appears to be an attack of post-traumatic stress syndrome leads to a violent confrontation between Rambo and the local police. A private war has begun, and as Rambo escapes and slips into the surrounding hills armed with a large knife, news crews, soldiers and more police flood into the town for the man-hunt.

    One visitor is Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), Rambo's CO. It appears that Rambo is a former Green Beret and war hero, with many decorations, including a congressional medal of honour. When the egotistical and driven Sheriff Teasle refuses to listen to reason, Trautman's only suggestion is to have "plenty of body bags" on hand.

    After its relatively quiet start, First Blood expertly keeps building the tension and action into a great showdown between Rambo and Sheriff Teasle. The pacing of the film is perfect, and the acting by Stallone and Dennehy is spot on. This is a good story, made into a great action film.

    Despite all the explosions and over-the-top stunts, First Blood had buried within it a powerful message in regards to the awful treatment of Vietnam Vets, and the plight of returned soldiers generally. These are highly trained men who often can find themselves discarded by the governments and countries that they risked their lives for. Rambo risked his life, and endured the intense hell of war, to protect a society that then happily pushes him to the bottom of it. While Rambo is a fictitious character, sadly, he is representative of many true stories.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is a little grainy, but quite good overall, considering the age of the source material.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of the image is okay, but the shadow detail and contrast is poor - for example consider the forest scene at 36:58. Very occasionally there appeared to be some low level noise, but I never found it distracting.

    The colour is generally good, but whites often appear grey. Some scenes look a little desaturated and too dark.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts, but the grainy image sometimes does appear a little pixelated.

    Film-to-video artefacts are present in the form of some mild aliasing, such as the shimmer on the car grille at 40:52.

    Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, and some edge enhancement is also noticeable at times.

    Surprisingly, the only subtitles present on the DVD are Dutch.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 48:16. On my player there was a slight pause which was noticeable.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains much of its original stereo feel.

    There is only one audio option on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).

    The dialogue quality and audio sync are fine, although some of Stallone's lines are slurred with his speech. I also found that some of the movie's Foley effects sounded a little tinny, muffled, and fake.

    The musical score is credited to the very talented Jerry Goldsmith, and it is suitably dramatic.

    As expected, the surround presence and activity is very limited. The surround sound mix is quite front-heavy, and the 5.1 mix often sounds more like an old stereo surround-encoded mix. Occasionally the rear speakers are used, such as for the helicopter at 28:26 and for the score and the gunfire at 70:23.

    The subwoofer is called upon for explosions, for example at 78:32, but the LFE track lacks any real definition.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Surprisingly, there are no extras -- not even a trailer!

Menu

    An animated main menu, with audio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    First Blood has been released on DVD in Region 1 twice, initially in 1999 as a single sided, single layered disc with a Stereo-Surround audio track. The extras included a making-of featurette, audio commentary, trailers, trivia, and a "Stallone Movie Retrospective". In 2002, the dual sided, dual/single layered Special Edition arrived.

    In R1 First Blood can be purchased by itself, as part of "The Rambo Collection Pack" (the three standard DVD editions) or as part of the "Rambo Trilogy" (the three SE DVDs with a fourth bonus disc including production notes, a new 30 min featurette, "Rambo Trilogy", and trivia games).

    Compared with the R1 Special Edition, the Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would have to favour the R1 Special Edition.

Summary

    First Blood is a good story that has been made into a great film.

    The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.

    The audio quality is adequate, albeit quite front-heavy.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Friday, August 06, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
Close, But Not Quite -
Not quite? Of course it is. -
RAMBO -
re: RAMBO - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Hmmm -
special edition -
an explanation of stallone and rambo as characters -
an explanation of stallone and rambo as characters -
Re: an explanation of stallone and rambo as characters -
Re: an explanation... - Neil
Re: an explanation... - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)