Rambo III [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (7th June 2008).
The Film

While “First Blood Part II” (1985) felt like a natural progression from its predecessor, “Rambo III” (1988) does not. This time the focus is less on the message of Vietnam veteran treatment and more on balls-to-the-wall action. It seems like Rambo is the perfect super-soldier as Stallone does his best ‘meat-head’ impression in this instalment. This time we find our hero in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban(?) (whoops) against the Russians. This time Col. Trautman is held hostage by Russians and Rambo is sent in to rescue him, but while he’s there he may as well combat the entire Russian armada and take out a few bad guys too!

The popularity of the previous installments gave birth to the action monstrosity that is “Rambo III” with its over-inflated budget of $63 million it was the most expensive film produced at that time and also held a Guiness Book of World Records title for being the most violent film released as it had around 221 acts of violence and over 108 deaths amid the 102 minute runtime. The film features a cavalcade of intense and over-the-top action that was typical of films from the 1980’s.

The problem with this film is that it took Rambo outside of his natural elements and it also changed the character from being one that was rooted in Vietnam and ‘had’ to do the things he did in order to set things right into being an all-American super-solider who steamrolls over anyone that’s a danger to democracy. Of course the filmmakers disguise this with the whole Trautman in peril plot and make things a little more personal for Rambo. I felt that this film lost sight of what made Rambo an interesting and complex character and turned him into more of a brainless killing machine (more so than in the previous installment).

I did however, enjoy the Russian villains who provided the most fun out of the film, they really do make great villains and the toys they bring to the battlefield are also impressive. Nothing says big 80’s action than a massive helicopter assault in the desert. Still having been the weakest of the series “Rambo III” remains entertaining, even though you’ll roll your eyes too many times to count while watching it.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 this transfer is in 1080p 24/fps high-definition and has been created with VC-1 compression codec. The result is the best of the three films in terms of sharpness and attention to detail. Being the youngest of the trilogy the film elements are much better. The image is solid in fact with bold colors, deep blacks and good shadow detail. There are a few minor flaws like a slight orange hue to skin tones especially in the desert scenes, plus there are a few spots of dirt and damage like the occasional hairline scratch which is expected anyway and I also spotted some edge-enhancement.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included here, an English DTS-HD master audio 5.1 track as well as a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD track. Much like the two previous installments this audio mix isn't as engaging as expected, however is a significant improvement over the standard 5.1 tracks used on the previous DVD releases. Dialogue was clear and distortion free, the films sound effects were well placed and the score pumps loudly. The explosions could have held more weight behind them and the gunfire sounded a bit weak at times. Overall it was a good track that has room for improvement.
Optional subtitles are included in English and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has ported over only a couple of extras from the extensive and varied DVD releases of this film as well as added a single exclusive extra. What we have here is an audio commentary, a featurette, a trivia track plus a single bonus trailer. Below is a close look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Peter MacDonald. The director candidly comments on the production including his involvement and the the variosu issues faced during the filming. He also comments on the cast and variosu scenes which he liked but mostly he's quiet during the film watching it with you rather than providing a lot of insightful information. Much like the track on the second film this one can be a boring at times but for different reasons. There's a few nuggets of gold here but you have to be patient.

Next up is "Afghanistan: Land in Crisis" a featurette that runs for 29 minutes 45 seconds and takes a look at the country's troubled history and why this part of the world interested the filmmaker and made them use it for the third installment of the series. The clip rates the impact of the series quite highly which is fair enough but when juxtaposed with the problems faced by the Afghans it seems like an exercise in futility.

Also featured on the disc is "Out of the Blu" which is a trivia track that features pop-up information as you watch the film, the topics include a vast range of things from production information, story elements, character informations, trivia about the locations, stunts, the film's release and many other tidbits. It's an interesting feature to access while watching the film but it's something you'll only likely do once.

The disc rounds off its extras with a start-up bonus trailer for:

- "Rambo" which runs for 1 minute 1 second.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: B+ Audio: B+ Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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