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Ultra HD : Highly Recommended
Release Date: April 2nd, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1982

First Blood - Walmart Exclusive 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook

Overview -

4K UHD Review By: Matthew Hartman
A guy looking like that is just looking for trouble. The legendary action anti-hero John Rambo was born in blood - First Blood. In the same year he unloaded a third Rocky film, Sylvester Stallone kicked off a new action franchise. The most personal, down-to-earth, and best of the franchise scores a new solo SteelBook effort from Lionsgate. A repressing of the 5-film collection SteelBook, the art picks up a new slipcover accent but the discs are the same. If you don’t have it for the collection, First Blood is certainly Highly Recommended

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Walmart Exclusive SteelBook
Video Resolution/Codec:
2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR10
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH, Spanish
Release Date:
April 2nd, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Much like Mr. Bracke mentioned in his Blu-ray review (see below), First Blood is a gritty, raw, action classic. And not one that could be made today. After Stallone (more or less) ran the franchise into the blood-soaked dirt with Rambo: Last Blood, the franchise is effectively dead and buried. Stallone has floated doing a prequel television series, a remake series, and/or possibly even a sixth and truly final film. Whichever way the exploits of John Rambo live on, this first film is truly the best. 

While I highly enjoy the sequels through the fourth film, they’re pretty cartoonish spectacles by comparison to where they started. I don’t mean that as a slight, but the intensity of this film’s cat-and-mouse manhunt between Brian Dennehy’s Teasel and Stallone’s Rambo simply can’t be topped. From the moment we meet Rambo on the road we feel for him. Learning his last friend is dead, we feel his isolating loneliness. I always thought it an early tragic moment when he gave away the last photograph of his friends to the widow. He has nothing left to live for after that moment. Some of the side characters like the buffoonish National Guard guys are a bit hammy and obnoxious, but they’re a forgettable segment in an otherwise excellent action film. 

As for the sequels, they're a varying bunch. Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III pushed the franchise into the sillier cartoonish territory of the impossibly one-man-army. But they're fun. Make no mistake, I enjoy them every time I pull them off the shelf. But in terms of heart and character, the only sequel that really stands out to me is Rambo. It's that film that actually gives him a meaningful arc and trajectory and allows him to finish his own personal war and go home. It should have stopped there. Rambo: Last Blood could have been a good film, but it's such a cheap knockoff of the franchise even the blood is CGI. At the end of the day, it's First Blood that stands as the best of the pack. 

The following is from our Original Blu-ray Review 

I had avoided seeing First Blood until [some] years ago, largely because I made the mistake of seeing Rambo III first, and then Rambo II. Despite the immense box office popularity of the Rambo character in the '80s, the comic-book excesses and callous attitude towards violence of those two sequels were a big turn-off to me. So I figured First Blood could only be more of the same, and simply wrote the film off completely.

Boy was I wrong. As I learned when I finally watched the film on standard-def DVD in the late '90s, First Blood is a film that was demeaned by its follow-ups. It's a far more intelligent and challenging action film — superior not only to its sequels but to just about every comparable effort of its time. What makes First Blood so vital and refreshing is that it not only dares to ask tough questions about America's participation in the Vietnam War, but perhaps more importantly, how we treated the soldiers we sent there. Though First Blood contains plenty of action and graphic violence, it is not a mindless or manipulative film.

The story should be familiar to even those who have never seen the film. John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has just returned from Vietnam. Jobless and lost in a world that no longer has a place for him, Rambo visits a small town to connect with old war buddies, only to be arrested and abused by local Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). Triggered by his war experiences, Rambo jumps into action, escaping confinement and leading the police on a statewide manhunt that will have highly destructive consequences. Only the calling in of Rambo's Vietnam Colonel, Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) can hope to save him from his one-man assault. But has Rambo passed the point of no return?

As an action movie, First Blood works. Directed with efficient craftsmanship by Ted Kotcheff, and based on the little-known novel of the same name by David Morrell, the film is very well paced, gripping and always exciting. And unlike its successors, this is no ridiculous, over-the-top comic book. It is refreshing to see the audience not condescended to — Rambo is not the warrior with superhero-like powers as he became in the sequels. He's flesh and blood, relying on only his training and his wits to survive, which grants the character a palpable realism. Every event in the film, though a bit larger than life (this is a movie, after all), remains plausible. First Blood is the rare '80s action movie to create such a believable and realistic portrayal of its hero that the consequences of what he does actually mean something.

First Blood certainly remains notable in the career of Stallone. In the character of John Rambo, he found a role second only to Rocky Balboa. As we learn in the included supplements, Stallone had a significant hand in crafting the screenplay, as well and the input proved essential. The film's unexpected and unusual ending certainly would not have worked without him. Yes, there is yet another one-on-one battle between the good guy and the bad guy (or in this case, two anti-heroes). But it is in the film's surprisingly emotional climax that First Blood truly elevates itself to the top ranks of the genre. Maybe it is heavy handed, and maybe it is sentimental, but Stallone's eloquent handling of a difficult scene ends up making a strong statement about a sad chapter in U.S. history.

Ultimately, I'm not sure that I agree with every position First Blood takes. But the fact it even dares to ask questions in a genre known for avoiding them turns what should have been just another forgettable, mindless '80s B-movie into my pick for the most underrated movie ever made about Vietnam. Too bad Stallone had to go and ruin it with all those dreadful sequels...

Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray 

Lionsgate couldn’t leave him alone, they had to keep pushing… First Blood returns to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in a two-disc SteelBook exclusive to Walmart. The SteelBook case is identical to the 5-Film 4K UHD SteelBook collection from Best Buy. The only difference here is a new plastic slipcover accent. Otherwise, the discs are the same set we’ve had for two releases now. 

Video Review


Since the discs are the same as before, I'm letting Mr. E.'s words from his First Blood 4K UHD Review stand

A squad of trigger-happy weekend warriors charge Ultra HD with a stunningly gorgeously HEVC H.265 encode, which was struck from a brand-new 4K remaster and full restoration of the original camera negatives by StudioCanal. Although occasionally showing its age in a few spots, the results are simply phenomenal, easily besting the Blu-ray in a one-to-one combat. The 2160p video shows considerably sharper lines in the clothing and buildings while the lettering of signs and window store posters are more distinct and legible. Background information is plainly visible, and the leaves of trees, individual blades of grass and the ferns covering the ground are razor-sharp for the majority of the runtime. From time to time, resolution dips every so slightly and there is evidence of very mild aliasing in the window blinds of the police station, but it's admittedly easy to miss and doesn't ruin the overall picture. Nevertheless, awash with a consistently thin layer of natural grain, the transfer has a welcomed film-like quality fans will love.

The video also arrives into town with enhanced, stronger contrast while still staying true and faithful to Andrew Laszlo's creative, stylized cinematography, which actually restrains the contrast to give the story a somber, serious feel. On UHD, the photography looks drearier and bleaker without taking away from the bright, vivid whites of the various lightning. A subtler upgrade are the specular highlights throughout, giving the metallic objects and the chrome trimming of cars a sparkling, polished shine while allowing incredible detailing in the brightest, most intensely hot spots, like headlights, neon signs and the many explosions. Brightness levels also show some of the best improvements over the 1080p version, displaying significantly richer, more stygian blacks, from the hair of the cast to the guns and clothing. For much of the picture, velvety midnight shadows penetrate deep into the screen without sacrificing the finer aspects in the background, giving the action an appreciable dimensionality and a lovely cinematic appeal. However, there are a couple minor moments where blacks lose a tad of their luster and are not quite strong, but thankfully, it's not too egregious or distracting.

The subdued, overcast look of Laszlo's photography, at first, seems to hamper the colors, and to some degree, it does limit the overall palette, making much of the action somewhat plain. However, the HDR10 presentation nonetheless comes with sumptuous primaries, which are most apparent in the police car lights showing dramatically electrifying blues and candy rose reds. Meanwhile, clear skies are a lovely cerulean shade, and blood can appear a thickly ruby currant. Interestingly, the greens of the surrounding foliage and forest are not much brighter than its HD SDR counterpart, but viewers can still make out the small differences in the emerald greens of pine needles and the moss shades in ferns. The enhancements in the secondary hues are a bit more nuanced and understated, but explosions come with an animated, fiery orange and a richly vivid yellow in the center. At the same time, facial complexions appear rosier and more accurate to the cold climate while revealing negligible blemishes, wrinkles and pores during close-ups, making it the best the movie has ever looked on any format and a fantastic upgrade. (Video Rating: 94/100)

Audio Review


Likewise the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track returns.

Although the classic action thriller strolls into town with what seems like a new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, it does not reveal a significant, night-and-day difference from the matrixed DTS-HD HR 6.1 track from the 2007 Blu-ray. However, given the movie was originally recorded in 4-track Dolby Stereo, the elements lend themselves terrifically for lossless audio, occasionally filling the surrounds with the ambient noise of the local wildlife, the wind blowing through the trees or the sounds of helicopters flying above. It may not be enough to convincingly generate an enveloping experience, leaving large pockets of silence during a few action sequences, but it sounds great nonetheless. Much of the attention and focus is understandably placed in the fronts where atmospherics and background activity better create a broad and spacious soundstage, discretely traveling across the screen flawlessly. The action and Jerry Goldsmith's score exhibit outstanding clarity and detailing in the mid-range while vocals are precise and very well-prioritized amid the most chaotic moments. For the most part, the low-end is adequate for an action feature of this period, but there are times when the bass delivers a welcomed oomph and impact to the visuals. (Audio Rating: 78/100)

For a more in-depth take on the audio quality, you can read our review of the standard Blu-ray HERE.

Special Features


  • Audio Commentary: It's easy to assume that a hulking action star of the '80s wouldn't be the best candidate to deliver a fascinating commentary, but Sylvester Stallone does just that. From beginning to end, Stallone's solo chat is one of the most thoughtful and absorbing tracks I've ever heard from an actor. He discusses the genesis of the Rambo series, the progression of the character, the original script treatments, and his role in front of and behind the camera. He's also quite simply a great storyteller. Whether recalling production woes, heated behind-the-scenes arguments, or fun tidbits about scene-specific decisions, Stallone covers the gamut of First Blood lore. This is an exceptional commentary track that shouldn't be skipped by anyone who has a Rambo flick sitting on their shelves.
  • Audio Commentary: It would also be easy to assume an action writer's commentary would be a relatively straightforward affair, but David Morrell matches Stallone's passion with an engaging track all his own. Like the first commentary on the disc, this one includes an abundance of great stories about the production and the version of First Blood that made it to theaters. Morrell discusses the film's balance of action and plot, its refinement of the genre, and the strides the filmmakers took to create something completely different than a standard fare shoot-em-up. He even offers a sliver of personal details from his life at the time including his struggle to care for his dying teenage son. There's even a surprisingly touching moment often unheard in an audio commentary in which Morrell discusses his son's encounters with Stallone. This is a wonderful track that shouldn't be missed and one that pairs perfectly with Stallone's commentary.
  • The Real Nam (SD, 27 min): Made from various interviews of the soldiers and Vietnamese people, this short doc gives viewers a brief history on the tragedies of the Vietnam War.
  • Drawing First Blood (SD, 23 min): This thorough featurette begins with the original novel and its adaptation for the screen, moves on to the battles the filmmakers endured to retain the bleak tone of the book, and concludes with candid details about the eventual production. This is an excellent companion piece to the disc's audio commentaries that, once again, shouldn't be missed.
  • Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1 (HD, 18 min): A brand-new retrospective that's exclusive to the Blu-ray features interviews with David Morell, various actors, filmmakers and celebrity personalities talking about the film's cultural impact and lasting legacy.
  • How to Become Rambo Part 1 (1080i/60, 14 min): After giving a brief background on his career and experience, physical trainer Dr. Franco Columbu coaches viewers on some body building techniques for building stronger muscles and healthier physique.
  • Forging Heroes (SD, 10 min): An interesting piece on the rigorous training of the Green Berets, featuring interviews of veterans providing insight on their experiences.
  • The Restauration (SD, 2 min): Brief look comparing the before and after of the restoration process, switching back and forth between various scenes from the movie.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 6 min): The real draw of this collection of cuts is an alternated ending that, as advertised, would have completely altered the future of the Rambo series. It's a bleak denouement that I think fits the tone of the film better than its theatrical ending. Fans of the sequels may not agree, but I wish First Blood had concluded with just such a scene.
  • Outtake (SD, 1 min): The same alternate ending, except that the actors break character.
  • Trailer (SD, 2 min): The original theatrical preview.

The first and the best Rambo, First Blood is the cinematic antithesis of Stallone's pugilist hero from Philadelphia. A product of the post-Nixon, post-Vietnam era, the franchise would become an action-packed highly entertaining jingoistic cartoon in later films (and in an actual kid's cartoon complete with action figures), but this first film is the true star of the franchise. Stallone hit on an important theme with the country still reconciling with its past. Thrilling from start to finish, it’s a great action film and a nice entry on the 4K format. For fans who haven’t upgraded or missed out on the previous SteelBook franchise collection, this solo edition exclusively available at Walmart is a lovely piece for the collection. Highly Recommended

Order Your Copy of First Blood on 4K Ultra HD SteelBook