Ultra HD: Highly Recommended
4 Stars out of 5
List Price 94.99
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Release Date: October 27th, 2020
Movie Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Restricted
Release Country: United States
COLLAPSE INFO -

Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Review Date October 29th, 2020 by
Overview -

Sylvester Stallone's iconic performance as the one-man army John Rambo finds a home on 4K Ultra HD with a SteelBook repackaging that is exclusive to Best Buy. The lossless audio and HDR video presentations are identical to their respective 4K predecessors with the same set of bonus features. However, dubbed Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection, all five films of the Rambo saga are brought together for the first time as a collector's edition box set on Ultra HD. Raising the stakes even higher is the brand-new artwork for each individual SteelBook case, which are housed together in an attractive custom metallic packaging. For the devoted, loyal fan and 4K collector, this is a Highly Recommended addition to the library.

OVERALL
Highly Recommended
  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Ten-Disc SteelBook Collection UHD Combo Set
    5 UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    5 BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
    Region Free (UHD Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10
    Dolby Vision HDR
    Length:480
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.39:1
    Audio Formats:
    English Dolby Atmos
    English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    French Dolby Digital 5.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH, French, Spanish
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentaries
    Featurettes
    Outtakes
    Deleted Scenes
    Trailers
    Blu-ray Copies
    Digital Copies
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: October 27th, 2020

Story Review Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

3.5 Stars out of 5

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of First Blood:

"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."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: First Blood Part II:

"Rambo: First Blood Part II is all about one thing — proving it’s got bigger cojones than its dramatic predecessor. Explosions come easily and frequently, lighting the night sky and splaying corpses across the jungles of Vietnam. Rambo coats himself in mud to kill a soldier, drops from a tree to kill a soldier, shoots arrows to kill a soldier, uses his knife to . . . Well, you get the idea. From beginning to end, director George Cosmatos (Cobra, Tombstone) seems uninterested in any scene that doesn't involve the blood-n-guts hilarity the series has become famous for. Quiet conversations between Rambo and his potential Vietnamese love interest are interrupted by violence, brief developments in the character are halted by ambushes, and a stirring speech at the end of the film is undermined by wild gunplay. In all, the film racks up a body count and a collection of spent cartridges that seems to outnumber the words spoken by the principal characters.

"I know there are plenty of '80s action junkies who eat this sort of thing up, but I can’t get over the differences between First Blood and this grating sequel. Taken on its own accord, I might be more forgiving, but viewed as a follow-up to a classic actioner, First Blood Part II seems out of place and out of touch. Everything that made the first film so special is abandoned in favor of ridiculous scenarios that involve Rambo charging into plain sight to mow down literally legions of baddies. Almost every scene devolves into a predictable parade of death that prevents Stallone from having any legitimate resonance as an actor. By the time the credits roll, the film has established itself as an exercise in the banality that will only appeal to those looking for a good laugh or a nostalgic Friday night."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo III:

"Suffering from an anxious pace, unintentionally hilarious gore, and a ludicrous series of action beats, Rambo III feels more like a parody of the series than a genuine entry. Stallone's character hasn't evolved in the slightest — early glimpses of his new life in Bangkok are little more than a setup for the fighting skills utilized later in the film. He still relies on explosive arrows, reams of bullets and pure, unadulterated brawn to save the day. Even the strategies he employs in his assault are paper thin. The cavernous terrain of Afghanistan could have provided a wealth of new battle scenarios, but the filmmakers merely recycle familiar scenes we already caught in First Blood and First Blood Part II. Worst of all, the film's underdeveloped script strives to generate empathy for the Afghani rebels, but never really develops their role in the story. They're only used as a means to rekindle a bit of Rambo's humanity, dying on cue and offering stories of their struggles that allow him to invest in their plight.

"Ironically, I found myself enjoying the historical conflict at the core of Rambo III more than the film itself. [. . .] I can't imagine my reaction to the film had I simply evaluated it on its own merit. Fans of the series and other 80s action extravaganzas may revel in the film's gratuitous and consistent bloodbath, but I felt the experience was dated, preposterous, and unworthy of its association with First Blood. [. . .] I know there's an audience out there that will scoop Rambo III up as soon as it hits store shelves. Personally, it's just not my flavor. With every passing scene, I longed for the gritty tone of First Blood and its prioritization of character over action. This third entry in the series is a subpar shoot-em-up that reduces the brilliance of the first film to a dull, monotonous video game."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo (2008):

"After the hilariously over-the-top action machismo and excessive jingoism of 1988's third entry in the John Rambo saga, it was a treat to see Sylvester Stallone allow the embittered Vietnam-vet to redeem himself twenty years later in the aptly titled Rambo. Granted, I was somewhat hesitant at first when it initially hit screens, but thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by the simple, straightforward shoot-up story from a script co-written by Stallone. Under his direction, the film also feels like catching up with an old friend, largely thanks to a fairly nosy but well-intentioned missionary Sarah (Julie Benz of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame), who keeps bugging the reluctant and rather stoic Rambo. Then again, she's also the catalyst needed to push the beloved character to do what he does best, but within its simplicity, there hides a subtly poignant theme on interventionism and humanitarian efforts. The movie is a great return to what has turned the original into a favorite action flick, except with far more gore and just enough excessive violence to be enjoyed as mindless escapism."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: Last Blood:

"From a script co-written by Stallone, the fight [in Rambo: Last Blood] takes a more deeply personal turn as Rambo safeguards his adopted family and legacy against a Mexican cartel, who send their best criminals, rapists and drug dealers. Whereas previous entries saw the conflicted Vietnam vet fighting the maltreatment of soldiers in smalltown U.S.A. or defending American values abroad — a fantasized catharsis of the country's past failures — Rambo, this time around, battles to preserve any semblance of normalcy and for Gabriela (Yvette Monreal), the teenager he's raised as his own. The girl and her grandmother Maria (Adriana Barraza) are a major detail that mostly goes unexplained outside of a few verbal hints, and the filmmakers don't make much effort either, using both women as little more than plot devices for justifying the gory, blood-splattered retribution. They're essentially the story's MacGuffin. 

"Instilling drama into the fiery fray, director Adrian Grunberg's (Get the Gringo) sophomoric effort shows the decorated war hero continues to be haunted by the demons of his past, a deeply wounded man battling himself as much as those threatening himself. Again, it's nothing new and even feels somewhat obligatory at this point, but Last Blood has its moments worth admiring. The one-man killing machine spends much of his free time digging underground tunnels that aimlessly go nowhere and don't seem to serve any purpose, other than serving as Chekhov's gun foreshadowing the climactic showdown while also being a subtle metaphor for our hero's internals struggles. Arguably, the movie's highlight is the montage sequence, a comical but entertaining clash of vintage Rambo meets Home Alone. And at a brisk 89 minutes, thanks to Stallone's tightly-written script, Rambo's final hooah doesn't overextend its welcome while nicely wrapping up an action legacy."

Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray

Dubbed Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection, Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings the definitive Rambo saga to 4K Ultra HD as a SteelBook box set edition, which is exclusive to Best Buy. Featuring new artwork by various talented artists, all five films arrive in their own separate individual SteelBook packages, which are all comfortably housed in a custom metallic case. 

Each package is a two-disc combo pack with a dual-layered UHD66 disc sitting comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc, and the set comes with a pair of flyers with codes for Digital Copies, which redeemable via moviesredeem.com or through VUDU. The first code is for a five-film bundle, granting users access to the entire franchise in 4K Dolby Vision HDR video. The first three movies come with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio while the last two entries enjoy Dolby Atmos tracks. The second flyer is for the unrated extended cut of Rambo: Last Blood, which clocks at 102 minutes versus the 89-min theatrical version but is only available in 1080 HDX video and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio.

At startup, each 4K disc goes straight to the standard menu screen with the usual options, full-motion clips and music playing in the background.

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Ten-Disc SteelBook Collection UHD Combo Set
    5 UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    5 BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
    Region Free (UHD Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10
    Dolby Vision HDR
    Length:480
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.39:1
    Audio Formats:
    English Dolby Atmos
    English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    French Dolby Digital 5.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH, French, Spanish
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentaries
    Featurettes
    Outtakes
    Deleted Scenes
    Trailers
    Blu-ray Copies
    Digital Copies
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: October 27th, 2020

Video Review

4.5 Stars out of 5

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of First Blood:

"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."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: First Blood Part II:

"Continuing its winning streak, the now 33-year-old film invades with significantly brighter and stronger contrast, making the movie look and feel as though shot more recently. The dramatic improvement in the whites easily leaves the Blu-ray behind to fend for itself, displaying a vivid radiance in the puffy clouds and a noticeably crisper pop in the brightest, most intensely brilliant moments. A couple of scenes, most notably in the second half when Rambo turns into a one-man army, even have that much-desired photorealism expected of the 4K format. Specular highlights are, perhaps, not quite as impressive, but there is a welcomed glimmer and shine along metallic edges and the surface of water worth appreciating, adding to those aforementioned realistic details in the photography. Likewise, black levels are considerably richer and velvety for a majority of the runtime. However, some the blackest areas mildly crush the finer details in a few nighttime moments while seeming just a tad murkier and duller in others even though shadow delineation is still strong."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo III:

"The more positive aspects are the improved brightness levels, providing the 2.39:1 image with darker, richer blacks throughout. Velvety, stygian shadows penetrate deep into the screen for some appreciable dimensionality and cinematic appeal without sacrificing or engulfing the smaller background information. John Stanier's photography favors earthy browns and yellows, but the HDR10 presentation, nonetheless, benefits the primaries, showing lusher, spirited blues in the sky and vivid crimson reds in clothing and blood. Secondary hues, likewise, show a bit more variety, particularly in the golden yellows of the temple roofs, the mocha-bone tans of the sand and the tawny caramel tones of the prison. Facial complexions also appear more natural and lifelike with a sunburnt appeal that feels accurate to the climate and region. Awash with a thin but pronounced layer of grain, the cheesy 80s actioner is ultimately saved by a welcomed and attractive film-like appearance that fans will love."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo (2008):

"Coming from a 2K digital intermediate, the upscaled transfer creeps into the jungles of Ultra HD with definition that's about the same as the 1080p HD version.

[C]ontrast receives a small boost, heightening some of the action with a tad brighter and cleaner whites, but again, it's not a dramatic enough of a jump to be noteworthy. This is likely related to Glen MacPherson's cinematographic intentions, as much of the movie feels deliberately dreary and somber with lots of overcasts, giving the visuals a greyish appeal. This affects specular highlights on the whole, but the small improvement is still appreciable. The brightest, hottest spots are a tad crisper, which is best seen in the jungle scenes as the sun shines through the trees with a narrower glow allowing for better visibility, but in other areas, they reveal a smidge of posterization. Brightness levels enjoy the biggest upgrade, providing the 2.40:1 image with richer, truer blacks and strong shadow details within the darkest, murkiest corners."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: Last Blood:

"Equipped with the mighty resourcefulness of Dolby Vision HDR, the 4K presentation also greets the enemy with a welcomed boost in the overall colors, impressing on several occasions with a more dynamic and energetic range of secondary hues while remaining faithful to the filmmakers' creative intent. The orange-teal palette of the cinematography is perhaps even more blatant and standout, showering the gratuitous violence in richer, energetic yellows and warm amber browns, especially in daylight exteriors and sequences in Mexico. Primaries are still on the more subdued and tamed side of things, particularly greens looking a yellowish-lime hue. But the reds of blood are a deep ruby crimson while blues are an electrifying admiral shade with one of the more dazzling moments occurring at the nightclub where the red and blue neon lights create a spirited array of fuschia pinks and soft lilac purples."

Audio Review

5 Stars out of 5

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of First Blood

"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."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: First Blood Part II:

"Given the massive, muscular upgrade witnessed in the 4K video, it would have been nice to also hear a new lossless audio mix, if not perhaps updated with an object-based audio option. Sadly, it's not meant to be. Poor Rambo is sent into the formidable and demanding jungles of Ultra HD equipped with the same, somewhat disappointing and lackluster DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as its Blu-ray counterpart. Although the design comes with a few atmospherics and strong background activity with clean, well-prioritized vocals, it never feels as though it moves about the screen or delivers any sense of presence, failing to ever establish a worthwhile or engaging soundstage. The mid-range is noticeably plain and uniform, deserting much of the action to a flat, dull prison of monotony. Worse is a tediously stale low-end that while arguably adequate for the period is nonetheless lackluster and flavorless."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo III:

"Once again, Lionsgate and StudioCanal have opted to port over what seems like the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack as before. Granted, this design comes with a better sense of presence than the sequel, but a redo of the original elements would have nonetheless been most welcomed. Either way, this lossless mix displays a broader, more engaging soundstage as various background activity smoothly moves across all three front channels, and the mid-range is fairly dynamic with plenty of good clarity in the loudest segments, though it also feels pretty uniform and limited in the upper frequencies. Occasionally, some ambient effects somewhat effectively bleed into the surrounds, nicely expanding the soundfield but don't really feel convincingly enveloping. Low bass comes with some appreciable oomph and weight during explosions, but not quite as robust or demanding as the visuals would imply, nothing to truly rock the house or impress."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo (2008):

"Our beloved, legendary one-man army storms into the thick of battle equipped with an earth-shattering, demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

"Rain is convincingly heard pouring from above the listening area and down the surrounds, and occasionally, individual water drops fall from the side of a roof or the canopy of Rambo's boat. When the weather is calmer, birds are distinctly singing in the distance or bugs are chirping from within the jungle. The stealth rescue sequence is a fantastic highlight, as the cheers of soldiers echo all around and through the ceiling speakers or footsteps walk directly overhead, generating a highly satisfying hemispheric soundfield. When the action suddenly erupts on screen, screams and yells come from every direction, bullets flawlessly zoom throughout the room, and debris immersively rains down. 

"The real showstopper, however, is the insanely aggressive and beautifully responsive low-end, which digs every so often well below 20Hz but stays more consistent around 25Hz."

Excerpt from our original 4K UHD Blu-ray review of Rambo: Last Blood:

"The blood flows and splatters all over home theaters with an excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack that is also somewhat disappointing considering the last Rambo entry, which was an earth-shattering, overwhelming joyride. This fifth installment, on the other hand, debuts with a less-satisfying presentation, employing the surrounds more sparingly. Of course, a few atmospherics do pan between the sides and rears with amusing effectiveness and great directionality, and occasionally, those noises float across the overheads to widen the soundfield though it's not enough to generate a convincing hemispheric environ. However, as would be expected, action sequences erupt with plenty of activity, especially during the tunnel scenes where voices and gunfire echo and reverberate from every direction."

Special Features

3 Stars out of 5

All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video releases and available on the UHD disc, which can be read in more detail in our reviews for each individual release and linked above.

Final Thoughts

Since his debut in cinemas nearly four decades ago, Sylvester Stallone's performance as the one-man army John Rambo quickly grew to become one of the most iconic action franchises. The ex-Green Beret vet haunted by memories of war has combated small-town prejudice, freed POWs, battled the Soviets in Afghanistan, liberated missionaries in Myanmar and finally, unleashed vengeance against a Mexican cartel on his family farm. Dubbed Rambo: The Complete SteelBook Collection, all five films enter the Ultra HD warzone with identical lossless audio and 4K video presentations as their respective predecessors and the same set of bonus features. Ultimately, the question for fans comes down to how badly they want this, given each film has already enjoyed individual 4K releases. However, the temptation for this SteelBook collector's edition is the new custom packaging and artwork while having the entire Rambo saga housed together for the first time in a box set, making it highly recommended

  • TECH SPECS & RELEASE DETAILS
    Technical Specs:
    Ten-Disc SteelBook Collection UHD Combo Set
    5 UHD-66 Dual-Layer Disc
    5 BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
    Region Free (UHD Only)
    Video Resolution/Codec:
    2160p HEVC/H.265
    HDR10
    Dolby Vision HDR
    Length:480
    Release Country:United States
    Aspect Ratio(s):
    2.39:1
    Audio Formats:
    English Dolby Atmos
    English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    French Dolby Digital 5.1
    Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
    Subtitles/Captions:
    English SDH, French, Spanish
    Special Features:
    Audio Commentaries
    Featurettes
    Outtakes
    Deleted Scenes
    Trailers
    Blu-ray Copies
    Digital Copies
    Movie Studio: Lionsgate
    Release Date: October 27th, 2020