The Rambo Collection (1982) - The Ultimate Collection

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller / War
Lions Gate || R - 293 minutes - $39.98 || November 23, 2004
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-12-11


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ted Kotcheff, George P. Cosmatos, Peter MacDonald
Writer(s): David Morrell (novel/characters), Michael Kozoll (screenplay, "First Blood") & William Sackheim (screenplay, "First Blood") and Sylvestor Stallone (screenplay, "First Blood"), Kevin Jarre (story, "Rambo: First Blood II"), Sylvestor Stallone (screenplay, "Rambo: First Blood II") and James Cameron (screenplay, "Rambo: First Blood II"), Sylvestor Stallone (screenplay, "Rambo III") and Sheldon Lettich (screenplay, "Rambo III")
Cast: Sylvestor Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Charles Napier, Marc de Jorge, Kurtwood Smith


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Actor Commentary on First Blood
  • Director Commentary on Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Director Commentary on Rambo III
  • Alternate Ending/Deleted Scenes
  • MetaVision Survival Mode


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

Rambo, a warrior amongst warriors gets his third treatment on DVD. First were the regular, feature-less copies, then came the Special Edition, and now the Ultimate Edition (wait a few years for the Platinum Edition).

First Blood introduces us to Vietnam veteran, ex-Green Baret John J. Rambo, played by action-star Sylvestor Stallone. The story is simple but does dive a bit into the psychological profile of a man whose been mentally scarred due to his time in Vietnam. After returning home from the war, Rambo discovers the last of his squad has died, he wanders the land and winds up in Washington state where he encounters hard-ass Sheriff Will Teasie (Dennehy) who does not want this vangrant in his town. This causes all kinds of trouble which leads to the hunting of Rambo in the deep forrests of the Pacific Northwest. Enter Colonel Samuel Trautman (Crenna), the man who trained Rambo into what he is today and hopes to help out his old diciple out of this mess.

As a younger gentleman of 24 years, I had never seen any of the Rambo films so this was all new to me. For the first 20 or 30 minutes, I wasn't too enthralled with this movie that's garnered cult classic status. Yes, there are certainly some hard core violence scenes, but this plot was not adding up to much. However, as the film wraps up, I got to see the more personal aspect of this character whose purpose had seemed only to maim people (though not kill) rather than survival. Toward the end, though, we get to see not only why he's so scarred, but what the future has in store for him (and his realization of this).

Rambo: First Blood Part II continues Rambo's saga as his former commander Trautman asks him to return to Vietnam to document possible POWs still possibly held there. Heading the mission is Marshall Murdock (Napier), a Washington beurocrat who doesn't seem to have the best intentions for the mission. You can imagine what happens next: blood, explosion and mayhem all around! A healthy movie for any guy to watch! Compared to First Blood, the sequel has the same blueprint exchanging the Pacific Northwest with Vietnam and Rambo running from cops or the National Guard to the Vietnese and Russians. Other than that, there is little difference. So, as a film, it is good entertainment but like most action flicks that came from the 80's, it's fairly skimpy when it comes to character or dialogue; to think about it, that's the trend of most brainless actioners even today.

Rambo III marks John J. Rambo's third appearance as the Vietnam veteran just trying to move on in his life and find some kind of peace within himself. However, his former commander, Trautman, comes in (once again) and stirs things up. Trautman has volunteered to go into war-torn Afghanistan (in the 80's, that is) to help the rebel fighters defeat invading Russian armies and he [Trautman] wants Rambo to go in with him. Now living in a monestary, Rambo declines the offer as he is not ready to go "full circle" with his past. But, after Trautman is captured by the Russians, Rambo feels an obligation to go in after him. What follows are the trademark of the stupid action genre, things that not only have I come to expect from a Rambo movie, but would be disappointed if it weren't there! One man against an army. Yep. Heavy explosions with bodies dropping from the sky. You betcha! Cheesy and perhaps unintentionally funny dialogue. Absolutely! There are no surprises here, though the film itself does sustain a little tension.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This set doesn't have many special features to speak of. It does have this "MetaVision Survival Mode", a feature that works kind of like a pop-up but instead you hit the "enter" button on your DVD remote and it takes you to different little foctoids (with some graphics to spruce it up). When you choose to exact the Survival Mode, those words will appear on the bottom left-hand corner of the screen while watching the movie. When a mode comes up, there'll be a countdown after which it'll describe what the feature is and such. The good news is, you can go directly to the index to see them individually if you want. This MetaVision includes: MetaPlot, MetaBrief, MetaScope, etc (you can look at the top of this page for the rest). I tried some of them out but they don't offer too much information. What should have been done was taken you to mini-featurettes for live people to do instead of textual stuff.

First Blood and Rambo III include deleted scenes, and alternate endings. The alternate ending for First Blood, though not really a powerful, would've been, I'm sure, shocking at the time if left in (I won't reveal it because it would also reveal the true ending at the same time- in case you haven't seen the movie). Both discs have the normal scene where it was obvious as to why it was left on the cutting room floor. The Rambo III disc also has an alternate ending plus a joke ending.

Each disc also has one commentary track. First Blood has an all-new one with star Sylvestor Stallone who gets quite honest not only about the struggles he endured while filming but also his own writing as he wished some of the "comedy" scenes were cut since it didn't really meld with the mood. Interestingly, he also says that he originally didn't want to play Rambo has he thought it would be a career killer. Many leading actors in Hollywood turned down the role until Stallone finally said yes. Another tid-bit: Richard Crenna was a late replacement as Kirk Douglas was set to play Tautman but left due to creative differences (he wanted to basically rewrite the script and turn Tautman into a Rambo-esque warrior at the end.

The two other commentaries were originally featured on the Special Edition releases. Directors George P. Cosmatos and Peter MacDonald weave their tales about their projects. Cosmatos' commentary was more by the numbers and didn't really get into much detail of how he came aboard, though he did describe (as did MacDonald) their filming techniques. MacDonald on the other hand, did briefly describe how he got the gig. Initially he was the second AD or something and (again) due to creative differences, the original director left and MacDonald got the gig. I think maybe film students might get something out of these commentaries (for the directors) but for everyone else, it is pretty boring at times.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

It's a difficult thing to rate movies made more than 20 years ago. The picture quality can be restored nicely but sound is a different issue if they don't have good tracks to begin with. For the Rambo movies, the picture in each one gets better and even the original released back in '82 still looks pretty good. The sound isn't all too bad, though there were spots that were weak and the surround sound wasn't utilized much either (I didn't expect it to be, though). A good transfer and considering its age, not too bad.



.::OVERALL::.

Buy this edition ONLY if you are a die hard Rambo fan and you don't own an of the other copies. This set lacks any truly good features to make it worthwhile, so if you don't care about special features and can enjoy the stupid action genre, here's your set.