Run Time: 200 Mins+
What To Expect: Good 4K movie, mediocre everything else
The time has rolled around again for another home media update for First Blood. It has been released on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, now it’s 4K UHD Blu-Ray’s turn. The film is being released separately along with two of the other sequels, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III (both reviewed in the coming week, as well). No Rambo though, the reason for that is unclear to me. I was going to review all three together, but it’s probably better to do each individually.
Sylvester Stallone heads on into Jerkwater, USA, looking “for something to eat”. Well, that kinda thing is unacceptable to the local Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy, a surprisingly young 42 here) who takes Stallone in. And after a rampaging escape from the Police Department, the hunt is on. The best Rambo movie, the best Stallone movie and the best manhunt movie. Rambo is the ultimate weapon, retreating to the wilderness and eating things that’ll make a billy goat puke.
After being pushed by “that king-shit cop”, the Green Beret gets pissed and turns on his pursuers. Bringing in half the National Guard only serves to madden the veteran. Stallone looks damned near Terminator-like in his efficiency. I mean, you just love how within minutes one solitary survival knife is put to all sorts of uses. Something Stallone later references in Rambo II. Raw, thrilling and down to Earth. And the hero doesn’t get away either. Ground breaking.
Along with the A-Team, another show where outcast underdog Vietnam Veterans are painted in a positive light, First Blood was a first step in America bringing its PTSD-ridden, mistreated heroes back in from the cold.
This old film has been struck from a brand-new 4K remaster and full restoration of the original camera negatives by StudioCanal. A true a 2160p transfer in 2.35:1, the film has had new life breathed into it. Almost literally, you can sense the damp cold atmosphere of Jerkwater, USA, and its surrounding environs. That includes an updated HDR color palette, of note being Sylvester Stallone’s altering skin tone… you can tell the man is freezing his ass off in this movie now.
Being 36 years old, it is not end-to-end perfect, with some wider shots looking hokey, first example the entrance of Rambo walking down the hill. But overall, lines are sharper, there’s more depth and it is clearly a different breed from the 1080p transfer of the movie (also included on the second disc).
The rest is a bit disappointing though. I feel that outside the main movie, this is an uninspired release. The artwork looks second rate, there’s a hand-drawn picture of Stallone that may have been going for a retro feel, or something, but it doesn’t jive with me.
There are a lot of extras here, including passionate commentaries from David Morrell and Sylvester Stallone, but the featurettes bar one are from previous releases. A lot of making-ofs from the DVD era that most of you will have seen before, most of them not even in HD, let alone 4K. The new featurette is 17 minutes long. Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1 features insight from various bloggers and critics, most of whom I’ve never heard of, with David Morrell and Peter MacDonald (director of the third film) being the only ones I really cared to hear from. Listening to ‘trendy critics’ from the likes of the Guardian sneer at masculinity, over 480p footage (Really? You have the new damn 2160p version right there…) is underwhelming. The editing is also kind of amateur hour.
Also, there are over 12 minutes of deleted footage on YouTube for free. So why are you charging me for six minutes on disc? Especially in SD?