The Rambo series is definitely one of those I remember watching as a kid and absolutely loving it! Rambo’s power and willingness to survive under the worst conditions were inspiring as a kid. I know those movies that after watching your mom had to give you a triple dose of Prozac so you you sleep and stop destroying the house. Just Kidding about the Prozac! Now, I didn’t know what to expect from a 60-year-old Rambo (Yes, Sylvester Stallone is 61!) but I have to say I was surprised. Be prepared for the violence because it is extreme. What’s shown in this movie is going on in Burma as I write. We don’t hear the story in the media. Stallone made this movie with Burmese people as actors and they were all at risk making this movie. Stallone still has it at 61 years. If you don’t like Rambo then don’t bother. Otherwise it’s highly entertaining!
A group of American missionaries ask Rambo, who lives in seclusion in Thailand to help them get across the river to Burma to help the civilians there. They hope to make a change by doing humanitarian deeds to help the war victims. Rambo looks in disdain upon their request and tells them, “You’re not bringing weapons… you’re not changing anything!” Rambo is persuaded by a female missionary to help her and her teammates make the trek to help the civilians in Burma. Somehow the woman is able to reach the hardened soul of Rambo, and so he agrees to take the missionaries across the river to help the civilians in Burma.
The woman missionary and her teammates go MIA and get kidnapped and tortured, an American pastor hires mercenaries to go rescue the missionaries. Rambo accompanies them and then massacres the bad Burmese soldiers, using the biggest and baddest weapons. I’ll leave you to watch how this movie ends, but it is supposed to go full circle in terms of how Rambo begins in the First Blood.
The featured audio is a DTS HD 7.1 Master Audio, so if you’ve got a full system of surround sound speakers they’ll get a workout. Hopefully you don’t have cranky neighbors! There’s plenty of action to go around, with a nice wide spread across the front speakers and pretty solid audio emanating from the rear effects speakers as well. If you’ve got a subwoofer, it’ll rumble in a number of places. No complaints here. An additional soundtrack option is the Dolby Digital EX 5.1 mix that’s used on the DVD, with subtitles in English (CC) and Spanish.
The 1080p picture is exceptionally clear, though not necessarily 3-dimensional looking. Black levels are strong, and I didn’t notice any compression artifacts. Some of the scenes aren’t overly laden with color, but that’s a reflection of the atmospheric lighting conditions more than anything. “Rambo” is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and it’s a pleasure watching in Blu-ray.
The Blu-Ray edition of Rambo receives little in the way of exclusive features. Aside from picture-in-picture functionality, high-definition video and audio on all the featurettes, and a new image gallery, the content remain the same as the special edition DVD release. In that regard, the features include:
- Audio Commentary with Stallone
- Deleted Scenes
- Legacy of Despair: The Struggle in Burma
- It’s a Long Road: The Resurrection of an Icon
- A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo
- The Art of War: Completing Rambo
- The Weaponry of Rambo
- A Hero’s Welcome: Release and Reception
The strange juxtaposition between 1980’s camp nostalgia and real-world, genocidal violence carries over from the film into the extras, but here it’s explained and framed by the incredibly articulate words of the filmmakers themselves. The audio commentary – as well as “Legacy of Despair” and “It’s a Long Road” – speak very honestly about the challenges of bringing the character back to screens and the search for a story with enough significance that the return wouldn’t seem like an attempt to simply cash in. In fact, Stallone offers up a few what-if narrative options that had been considered before finally setting on the Burmese conflict which fans will likely appreciate. For many, the look into the situation in Burma – while only scratching the surface – may in fact be wildly educational. The featurette does its best to clearly lay out the situation in some graphic detail, though it does become difficult at times to remain comfortable with the notion of using Burma as a plot device in an action film. But the setting does resonate with the themes of the character and even for those who can’t quite relate the two, it’s a global problem worth exploring.The other featurettes are pretty standard behind-the-scenes peeks at the various elements of the production – sound, editing, etc. – except that there’s a honesty at work here, especially on the part of Stallone, that makes the featurettes well worth watching. They’re short for the most part – five to ten minutes in length – but they’re both amusing and informative, a compliment which simply cannot be paid to most extras which fall into the same category. Finally, the deleted scenes consist mostly of character bits which, while interesting and worthwhile in their own right, were cut for fairly obvious reasons.Overall, Rambo offers a somewhat unexpectedly high-quality set of basic, everyday extras. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but everything present is worth your attention.
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