Overall | First Blood (1982) | Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) | Rambo III (1988)

Rambo Trilogy (First Blood/Rambo: First Blood Part II/Rambo III) (1982)

Rambo Trilogy (First Blood/Rambo: First Blood Part II/Rambo III) (1982)

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Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Overall Package

    I have always reserved space on my DVD shelves for some long-awaited box-sets: the Indiana Jones movies, the Back To The Future movies, the original Star Wars movies, and the Rambo movies.

    Now, in 2004, it's great to see that by the end of this year, all of these blank spaces will have been filled.

    As a youngster, in my early teens, I used to have a Rambo poster on my wall, and I watched First Blood and Rambo countless times on VHS.

    Now in my 30s, it's great to revisit these films. While the cold war politics that underline them has dated, they still remain great action films, and perfect Friday night, enjoyable popcorn movie escapism.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Monday, August 09, 2004
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
an explanation of stallone and rambo as characters and soul nature - paras skye
RAMBO AS A MAN AND SOUL SEEKING TO FIND HIMSELF - PARAS SKYE
THE REASON WHY RAMBO 4 IS BEING INCARNATED - PARAS SKYE
THE MEANING OF THE FILMS HIGHLANDER , BRAVEHEART , RAMBO - PARAS SKYE
THE REASON WHY RAMBO DOES NOT NEED A HEADBAND IN RAMBO 4 - PARAS SKYE
Re THE REASON WHY RAMBO DOES NOT NEED A HEADBAND ... - Neil
rambo and the aquarian age - PARAS SKYE

Overall | First Blood (1982) | Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) | Rambo III (1988)

First Blood (1982)

First Blood (1982)

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Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

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

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - OliverD

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

Overall | First Blood (1982) | Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) | Rambo III (1988)

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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 1985
Running Time 91:57
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:36) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By George P. Cosmatos
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Richard Crenna
Charles Napier
Steven Berkoff
Julia Nickson-Soul
Martin Kove
George Cheung
Andy Wood
William Ghent
Voyo Goric
Dana Lee
Bagan Coleman
Steven Williams
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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The sequel to First Blood, Rambo (now confusingly renamed Rambo 2), discards plot in favour of more action in this cold-war induced right-wing hymn to Imperial America. Co-written by Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron, apparently this was Ronald Regan's favourite movie. However, if you ignore the George Bush Jr style politics that underline it, Rambo remains an action classic, and a very enjoyable popcorn movie.

    We find John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) breaking rocks in gaol. It seems that steroid abuse is rife in this prison, as Rambo's muscles have now ballooned to absurd proportions compared to his appearance in First Blood. Or perhaps they should be marketing a Breaking Rocks Work-Out DVD? Anyway, Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), Rambo's former CO, visits Rambo, and promises him a Presidential Pardon if he will carry out a Special Forces mission. Rambo reluctantly agrees, and finds himself back in South-East Asia.

    Rambo's mission is to travel to a remote prison camp, where it is rumoured that American POWs are still being held. Rambo is only supposed to take pictures, but when things go awry, Rambo's weapons quickly come out, and things start exploding.

    Having travelled through Vietnam on holiday, and now living in a post-cold war age, the idea of Americans being held as POWs in the 1980s seems far fetched. However, in the height of the cold war in the 1980s, I recall that the idea seemed not only possible, but somehow probable. This was an important political issue at the time, and other films, such as the Missing In Action movies, also picked up and ran with the theme.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    As with First Blood, the transfer is a little grainy, but good overall.

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

    The sharpness of the image is okay, although some scenes look a little too soft. The black level also suffers at times, and the shadow detail is poor, especially in the darker scenes, such as at 15:02.

    The colour is generally good, but whites can appear grey, and some skin tones looked a little too brown.

    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 bamboo roof of the boat at 21:09. Tiny film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, and some edge enhancement is also noticeable at times.

    Again, surprisingly, the only subtitles present on the DVD are Dutch.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 50:36. On my player there was a slight pause, but as the change is in between scenes, it's not too distracting.

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

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo Surround, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains much of its original Stereo Surround 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 as before, some of Stallone's lines are slurred with his speech.

    The musical score is credited to the very talented Jerry Goldsmith, and it is heavily based on his work for First Blood. Interestingly he has taken those familiar themes and reworked them using South-East Asian instruments, which helps set the scene of the story.

    The surround presence and activity is still limited, but much improved over First Blood. The rear speakers are called upon for the score, ambience, and effects, such as for the helicopter passing overhead at 34:32. However, there is not much separation between the rears.

    The subwoofer is heard with every explosion, for example at 73:11, but the LFE track sounds a little too booming, and lacking refinement.

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

Extras

    Surprisingly, as with First Blood, 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.

    Rambo: First Blood II has been released on DVD in Region 1 twice, initially in 1999 as a single sided, dual 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 this DVD 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

    Rambo 2 is an action classic and fun popcorn movie that will be enjoyed for many years to come.

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is also reasonable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Saturday, August 07, 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

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - OliverD

Comments (Add)
This DVD will not play on a Pioneer DV-414 - Gavin Bollard
Problems with pioneer player - Anonymous
Reagan's favourite movie? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
English subtitles? - Anonymous
This disc won't play on my Pioneer DV-344. - Stephen Elze
Again, Hmmm - Anonymous REPLY POSTED

Overall | First Blood (1982) | Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) | Rambo III (1988)

Rambo III (1988)

Rambo III (1988)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 27-Jul-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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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 1988
Running Time 97:08
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Peter MacDonald
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Richard Crenna
Marc de Jonge
Kurtwood Smith
Spiros Focás
Sasson Gabai
Doudi Shoua
Randy Raney
Marcus Gilbert
Alon Abutbul
Mahmoud Assadollahi
Joseph Shiloach
Harold Diamond
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

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Everything in Rambo III is bigger: Stallone's bigger, the stunts and effects are bigger, the set pieces and explosions are bigger, even Rambo's knife is bigger.

    We find John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) stick fighting in Bangkok. When not earning some extra cash in the ring, Rambo lives peacefully with a group of Buddhist monks, helping out as a handyman. Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna), Rambo's former CO, finds Rambo in an attempt to recruit his services. When Rambo turns him down, Trautman embarks on the Special Forces mission himself (which is odd considering his age), but is captured. This time it's personal, as Rambo travels to Afghanistan, during the war, to rescue Trautman from a ruthless Russian commander.

    A very political film, Rambo is dedicated to the "gallant people of Afghanistan". At the height of the cold war, Rambo aids the Moudjahidin in their fight against the Russian invaders. Interestingly, their "holy war" is glamorised, and the rebels willingness to thumb their nose at the rest of the world is idolised. Of course, some of these Afghan rebels were the Taliban and, following a fine tradition of American colonialism, once trained and heavily armed by the US, these marauding war lords then became very dangerous in a post-cold war world. Anyway, this movie is set when America wanted us to like the Taliban, so we do.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is quite good overall.

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

    The sharpness of the image is okay, although some scenes look a little soft, such as at 10:15. The black level and the shadow detail is noticeably better than First Blood and Rambo 2, such as during in the night operation at 14:20.

    The movie is shot in Arizona, Thailand, and Israel, and fortunately, the colour is good. The transfer seems to capture the beautiful lush greenery and desert hues well.

    There are no problems with MPEG artefacts, but the grainy image sometimes does appear a little pixelated. Unlike First Blood and Rambo 2, film-to-video artefacts do not seem to be a problem here. Very small film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, and some edge enhancement is also noticeable at times.

    Again, surprisingly, the only subtitles present on the DVD are Dutch.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 46:32.

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

Audio

   Originally released theatrically in Dolby Stereo Surround, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains some of its original Stereo Surround 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 as before, some of Stallone's lines are slurred with his speech.

    The musical score is credited to Jerry Goldsmith, and again it is heavily based on his work for First Blood. The use of ethnic instrumentation with the familiar themes is effective, but the song He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, over the closing credits, seems rather silly and out of place.

    The surround presence and activity is limited by its stereo surround source material. The rear speakers are called upon for the score, ambience, and effects, such as the helicopter at 20:54. However, as with First Blood and Rambo 2, there is not much separation between the rears.

    The subwoofer is used to support the explosions, for example at 40:33, and the LFE quality is far better than the first two movies.

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

Extras

    Surprisingly, as with First Blood and Rambo 2, 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.

    Rambo III 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 this DVD can be purchased by itself, or 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

    Rambo III has a lot more comedy than the previous two films in the series, and remains a fun, almost cartoon-style, over-the-top action film.

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The audio quality is also reasonable.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Sunday, August 08, 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

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - OliverD

Comments (Add)
is rambo 3 the uk version - Anonymous
problems with rambo 3 - Anonymous
English Subtitles - Tik-Tok
The "taliban" didn't exist back then - Anonymous
re: The "taliban" didn't exist back then - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
RE: The "Taliban" didnt exist back then. - Anonymous
R1 special edition out of print - Anonymous
R1 - SE available here - Anonymous
R1 New Special Edition - Anonymous
Re: R1 New Special Edition - Anonymous
Special editions now available in R4? - pistol
Not Bad - lordg (Biography Tag)