Rambo: Reloaded Edition (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 7-Jul-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Audio Commentary-Sylvester Stallone (Director/Actor)
Featurette-It's A Long Road: Resurrection Of An Icon
Featurette-A Score To Settle: The Music Of Rambo
Featurette-The Art Of War: Completing Rambo, Part One: Editing
Featurette-The Art Of War: Completing Rambo, Part Two: Sound
Featurette-The Weaponry Of Rambo
Featurette-A Hero's Welcome: Release And Reaction
Featurette-Legacy Of Despair: The Real Struggle In Burma
Deleted Scenes
Trailer-Blu-ray Disc™ Is High-Definition!
Trailer-Hancock
Trailer-Vantage Point
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 91:31
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sylvester Stallone
Studio
Distributor
Nu Image
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Julie Benz
Paul Schulze
Matthew Marsden
Graham McTavish
Rey Gallegos
Tim Kang
Jake La Botz
Maung Maung Khin
Ken Howard
Case Amaray Variant
RPI $39.95 Music Brian Tyler


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Rambo is a study in contradictions.

Rambo is both very like the original First Blood, and very unlike it. It is like the original in that it explores the psychology and mental processes of its titular character, but unlike the original in that the speeches are kept to a bare minimum. Those who remember the "nothing is over" speech of First Blood and, like me, wished the director had instructed Stallone to speak a little slower, will be glad to know that lines are mostly kept to a dozen words or less and are almost always articulated. Rambo is also like the two previous sequels in that hundreds of characters are killed during the running length, but also unlike them in that Sylvester Stallone has also taken a leaf from the book of Verhoeven in directorial terms, and chosen to show the consequences of this violence in a very real and serious fashion. It is largely due to this last point that Rambo is the first film in the series since the original, or perhaps even at all, that can solidly be labelled as being for grown-ups.

It is also worth noting how the film negates the critics' comments about how Sylvester Stallone is too old to be an action hero. The fact that Rambo is portrayed as being an old man actually helps lend credibility and tension to the plot, which makes for a great contrast to the previous two sequels. One of the best things about the film is that it shows how underneath it all, Rambo is still Rambo, but he has also had another twenty years to get a little perspective on being Rambo. After all, warriors grow old, too. But by far the biggest surprise is that rather than cheapening or trivialising the conflict in Burma, Rambo portrays the daily violence and brutality in a way that is enough to make even the most jaded viewer shake their head in disbelief that parts of our world still operate like this.

Time has not been kind to John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), whom the film shows collecting snakes for a baiting act in a remote area of Thailand. A group of missionaries led by Michael Burnett (Paul Schulze) come to Rambo and ask him to ferry them up the river into Burma. Rambo's first response is to tell these people to go home. They are idealists, and Rambo would know better than anyone that murderous armed men only stop in response to force or the credible threat thereof. But when Sarah (Julie Benz) appeals to Rambo, he ferries the missionaries up the river. Along the way, an encounter with pirates erupts in Rambo killing assailants who would rape and murder his passengers. After a stern lecture from Burnett, Rambo sends the missionaries on their way and goes back to his usual business.

Days later, a Reverend by the name of Arthur Marsh (Ken Howard) comes and informs Rambo that the missionaries are missing. Marsh, as luck would have it, has paid a group of mercenaries to ascertain what has happened to the missionaries and, if possible, bring them home. The group consists of such nice men as School Boy (Matthew Marsden), En-Joo (Tim Kang), and Lewis (Graham McTavish), the last of which proves to be quite a likeable character in spite of initial impressions. As the mercenaries set off in pursuit of the missionaries and their captors, the film quickly drops any pretence that Rambo is contemplating going back to his quiet life in Thailand with a bow and arrow sequence that makes the Tolkien's Greatest Hits versions look like badly-edited clips from the Three Stooges. The question here is not whether Rambo will save his missionary quarry, but rather how many Burmese soldiers he will kill along the way (well over two hundred when you filter pirates and innocent bystanders out).

I quite enjoyed Rambo. It is a throwback to the days when independent, small-and-medium-time distributors like Orion or Carolco competed by offering unashamed, no-holdbacks action. All in all, you could do quite a lot worse than Rambo if the action section of your BD collection needs adding to.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Every time I view a video transfer on Blu-ray, I am posed with a dilemma. Yes, this or that transfer looks very good and reveals a level of detail that I thought I would never see in my home, but the big question is, "is it reference quality?". Having always taken the term to mean an excellence that all transfers should aspire to, I can say without hesitation that Rambo gets a reference-quality video transfer.

Rambo is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.

This image is sharp. All the pronounced lines in Sylvester Stallone's face, the soldiers' beard stubble, little details like that, leap out of the screen. The shadow detail in the scenes travelling along the river or sneaking into the camp is immaculate. Low-level noise is not an issue. Grain is present in long shots showing the river and night shots, but this would appear to be natural film grain rather than any fault of the transfer.

The colours are rendered accurately, with flesh tones appearing natural and the abundant blood appearing realistic.

Compression and film-to-video artefacts were not noted in the transfer. A couple of black marks were seen on the image during the opening credits, but such artefacts are quite rare.

Subtitles in English and English for the Hearing Impaired are offered with this transfer. The latter are very accurate to the spoken word, although sometimes their timing is a little out.

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

Audio

Three soundtracks are presented on this Blu-ray Disc. Disappointingly, the DTS-HD Master Audio Lossless 7.1 soundtrack that everyone raves about on the Region A disc is not on the Region B equivalent.

The first, and default, soundtrack is the original English dialogue in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, with an English Descriptive Audio Service soundtrack provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 for visually-impaired viewers. A Dolby Digital 2.0 audio commentary rounds out the soundtrack options. I listened to all three of these soundtracks.

The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand, even from Sylvester Stallone. The separation of the dialogue from the rest of the soundtrack is impeccable. The separation of the sound effects from the score music, or indeed the space between every element of the soundtrack, is easily the disc's greatest asset.

The music in the film consists of a score by Brian Tyler, which repeats themes from the previous films in the series while adding a few of its own. The most interesting element of the score is the timing of certain thematics.

The surround channels are used very aggressively for panning effects. Bullets whiz through the soundfield constantly throughout the action sequences, while sounds of the jungle and rainfall pick up the slack during the quieter dialogue sequences. There is nary a moment in the feature where the surrounds are not doing something. Probably my favourite instance of surround channel usage is during Rambo's attack with the bow and arrow at 48:05, where the flight sound travels from speaker to speaker that makes me grateful for lossless audio, even if it is a lower-specified version.

The subwoofer is also very aggressively utilised to support the music, explosions, gunfire, and everything else you would expect from Rambo. It kept a nice bottom-end on the proceedings without calling undue attention to itself, even during the final battle. There are moments when the subwoofer is not in use, but these are few in number.

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

Extras

A comprehensive extras package is provided. Unless otherwise noted, all of the extras are in 1080P, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, film footage in 2.35:1, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Menu

A fully-featured Top Menu in the Lionsgate template, complete with animation and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, is provided along with an interestingly-made Pop-Up Menu. The Pop-Up Menu reduces the film into a small window in the middle right of the screen whilst the menu occupies the rest of the screen. Aside from the fact that it takes a good couple of seconds for the Pop-Up Menu to appear when the button is pushed, both have excellent response times.

BD-Live

Links to the Internet, plug your player into the network and get it shut down if Fox dislikes what you have done to your player so you can play your favourite film from Amazon, blah blah blah... Oh wait, what's that? My player does not support this feature? What makes you think I would normally use this feature even if it did?

Audio Commentary - Sylvester Stallone (Actor/Director)

Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional subtitles, Sylvester Stallone frequently channels Paul Verhoeven with frequent references to how realistically he chose to depict the violence depicted in the film. Also like Verhoeven, he provides a wealth of details about the challenges he faced in making the film, both of the technical and time constraint variety. This is a very entertaining and informative commentary that I would recommend without hesitation. It is worth noting that the menu offers a branching option that weaves interviews and production stills into playback. This extends the total playing time to what my player reported as two hours and twenty-two seconds, and some of what we see in the extensions is not in the featurettes, so this option is worth a look.

Featurette - It's A Long Road: Resurrection Of An Icon

This nineteen minute and forty-four second featurette consists of interviews with Stallone, producers, writers, and actors. It is funny to note how much Stallone resembles Glenn Danzig in some of the on-set archival footage. The fact that the featurette is presented in HD (although the on-location archival footage appears to have been shot SD and upconverted, as evidenced by the abundant aliasing) is a big plus. The insight into Stallone's technique as a director is well worth the viewing time.

Featurette - A Score To Settle: The Music Of Rambo

This six minute and three second featurette briefly touches upon the process of how the themes written by Jerry Goldsmith were blended with new themes emphasising the titular character's nature and the horror faced by the Karen rebels. An interesting featurette that really left me wishing it had gone into more detail.

Featurette - The Art Of War: Completing Rambo, Part One: Editing

This six minute, forty-seven second featurette describes how the film was shot and cut. Having a fondness for cutting and editing video myself, I kind of wish this featurette had gone into more detail. One interesting detail it shares at the end is that the makers submitted the cut featured on this disc to the MPAA expecting the dreaded NC-17 rating, and it was given an R. If only that sort of thing would happen more often.

Featurette - The Art Of War: Completing Rambo, Part Two: Sound

This three minute and fifteen second featurette is based around interviews with the sound design team. Again, it goes into a tiny amount of detail, but not nearly enough for anyone who has more than a superficial interest in how these films get made.

Featurette - The Weaponry Of Rambo

This fourteen minute and twenty-three second featurette is based around interviews in a studio and on location with weapons master and property master Kent Johnson and the actors about the trials of ensuring the characters had the right kind of weaponry. The really interesting part is when the featurette goes into detail about the making of that knife.

Featurette - A Hero's Welcome: Release And Reaction

This nine minute and thirty-one second featurette consists of actors describing their experiences at the premiere. A phone message to Matthew Marsden regarding the authenticity of sequences in which the actual consequences of shooting people with .50 calibre weapons is shown proved the highlight for me.

Featurette - Legacy Of Despair: The Real Struggle In Burma

One part early in the film produced a certain reaction in me. There are plenty of real problems happening right on your own soil, why not help your own people, clean up your own house, and so forth. This ten minute and forty-two second featurette changed my mind in a big way. The situation in Burma is truly one of the most appalling you could imagine. The interviews with aid workers are very interesting, and the fact that the Burmese government has banned Rambo from their shores says a lot about the regime.

Deleted Scenes

Totalling thirteen minutes and fifty-one seconds, this is a collection of five scenes that were either truncated or deleted altogether from the release version of the film. They are all heavy on dialogue, which goes some way to explain why they were cut.

Trailer - Blu-ray Disc™ Is High-Definition!

Presented in 1.78:1, 1080P, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, this thirty-two second trailer is good for a viewing or three.

Trailer - Hancock

Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, this ninety-nine second trailer makes the film look like the Bad Santa of superhero stories.

Trailer - Vantage Point

Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, this two minute and thirty-two second trailer produces conflicting impressions of the film.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region A version of this disc is distributed in America directly by Lionsgate Home Entertainment, whereas the rights in this country have been farmed out to Sony. Normally, this would not be a problem, except for one major detail.

The Region B disc misses out on;

According to the master list, the Region A version of this disc will play on Region B players, so this is a big loss to Region B.

Summary

Rambo was quite surprisingly good, both for its compelling story and its unusual-for-this-era authenticity in depicting violence. Credit is also due for trying to bring some attention to one of the worst humanitarian situations of the present day. It is not perfect by any means, but we certainly need more films like this in the present market.

The video transfer is of reference quality.

The audio transfer is of reference quality.

The extras are comprehensive, well-made, and generally quite interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Monday, July 14, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSharp AQUOS BD-HP20X, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
extra's? - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
I liked this movie too. - Sean.
Region A - region free - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
PIP EXTRAS - Deckard3 REPLY POSTED
DTS HD MA 7.1 - Anonymous