First Blood (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

First Blood 4K ReviewWhenever I hear the name Sylvester Stallone my mind is instantly wired to think of both the fictional heroes of Rocky and Rambo.  Sure the guy has had many other great roles over his career, but in my opinion these two are absolutely iconic.  His face is the symbol of hope, motivation and obviously the hero of these two franchises.  Let’s table Rocky for a few weeks though as he’ll get enough coverage with the upcoming Creed 2 feature later this month.  Instead let’s focus all our attention on the war machine…err should I say character…of the hour, Mr. John J. Rambo.  First Blood back in good ole’ 1982 is where it all started for this iconic action hero and that’s exactly where we’re going to start down below.

First Blood


I’ll give you one quick paragraph of history here, but for more information I highly recommend you watching the first couple extras found on the accompanying Blu-ray Disc here.  First Blood was released in one of my favorite lifetime years, 1982, and was directed by Ted Kotcheff.  It no only stars Sylvester Stallone, but as you’ll learn about in the informative extras down below it was co-written by the man too.  Of course though it’s all based on the 1972 novel of the same name by David Morrell.  Brian Dennehey, Richard Crenna, David Caruso and more star in supporting roles.  The story revolves around John Rambo, a Vietnam vet who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ends up waging a personal war against an abusive police department.

First Blood obviously is the start of something grand yielding four unexpected sequels, which the fourth one is scheduled for a late 2019 and appropriately titled Rambo: Last Blood (at this time of writing).  While I can go on and on about all the films in this franchise let’s just focus on this one.  It was a box office success earning over $125 million.  So I mentioned the films, but the success of First Blood spawned more than just that.  We got an animated series, comic books, novels and believe it or not even a Bollywood remake!  Although the movie has aged some it still is highly heralded in my opinion as one of the most influential films in the action genre with the fourth entry, Rambo, giving it a very close run for its money.  These are bookends to me and while I don’t need a Last Stand, I’ll still take it!  These films are everything to me!

So here’s the big deal.  John Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran and former U.S. Green Beret, is skilled in many aspects of survival, weaponry, hand-to-hand combat and guerrilla warfare.  In other words he’s a one-man army and the perfect killing machine almost like a Predator.  However, Vietnam never left the man despite his presence now in the United States.  He’s haunted by the memories and torture he was subjected to.  While trying to locate a fellow Army comrade he accidentally stumbles upon a small-town sheriff of Holidayland (Dennehy) who is itching to pick a fight.  What he doesn’t know is he’s picking on the wrong vagrant.  That much is made obviously clear!

All hell literally breaks loose when the unjustly imprisoned Rambo escapes the clutches of the Holidayland police department and an all-out manhunt is released on him.  He uses his skills and training to successfully evade the corrupt law enforcement, but things go awry and he finds himself deeper and deeper in dog doo doo so to speak.  Long story short Rambo decides to rage a personal war on the small town and sheriff landing him in trouble beyond trouble.  However, this just isn’t all about the action.  That’s why I love this movie so much.  It’s very much a psychological film and onscreen shows the real world effects of PSTD our veterans can suffer from.  No they are not going to wage a personal war like this, but you get the point.  This is an underrated Hollywood feature calling your attention to a very important topic and how our veterans are unjustly treated in the real world.  In other words First Blood is not a mindless action film.  At least that’s how I view it.

First Blood


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Lionsgate’s First Blood.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • HDR: Yes
  • Dolby Vision: No
  • Size: UHD-66
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Clarity/Detail: First Blood was an extremely nice uptick in clarity over the previously released Blu-ray editions.   The Fuji film cinematography courtesy of Andrew Laszlo looks beautiful on the 4K format.  Since I mention its cinematic qualities you should assume some softness.  It’s not chiseled like today’s Marvel releases are per se.  However, the detail just explodes on screen here beneath that thin layer of grain throughout.  Impeccable nods to textures such as stone, rock, clothing, etc. as well close up reveals in faces with freckles, stubble and more.  However, the real star of the show here for me was the forest where this all went down.  I never thought I would say this before, but the dirt looked grand not to mention the leaves, twigs, trees and all the green vegetation found within.  It looked great!
  • Depth: The opening sequence pretty much gives away how vast and great this cinematography is going to look as we traverse with Rambo as he walks along the landscape of Delmar’s lake house. The forest and woods are a star of its own here once again in this depth of field category, but pretty much anywhere you look around the town of Holidayland is especially with those gorgeous mountains as an everlasting, durable backdrop throughout.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are mostly dark and natural throughout.  I was surprised just how well they held up and even in the darkest of shadows nothing gets lost in them.  However, this is also an example of Stallone and his brilliant lighting with the matches, etc. in the cave sequences.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors have a very natural, authentic and earth tone to them throughout the presentation.  I would dare not say dull, but instead never exaggerated…plain and simple just natural and pleasant looking.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural and authentic throughout as well thanks to the gorgeous way this one was captured.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Other than a layer of cinematic grain, which grain haters will find a reason to hate on, things look outstanding here with no nasty artifacts to ruin your viewing enjoyment of the presentation here.

First Blood


Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of Lionsgate’s 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of First Blood.

  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Like the cinematography I boast about above in the video section Jerry Goldsmith’s score softens the character of Rambo throughout here despite his rough edges and is a character in its own right here.  I mean let’s face it this is not a modern movie and was not captured in 5.1 (originally recorded in 4-track Dolby Stereo).  A lot of care went into making this sound as good as it does today, which I know people will hate on Lionsgate for not giving it an Atmos remix.  However, it’s not really their property originally to do so.  Be happy with what you have because the score swirls and dazzles you throughout and while it’s top heavy there’s really nothing wrong here.  Its own fault, if you consider it one, is that it’s not a modern day blockbuster so it sounds its age.  Like fine wine or acquired tastes you do learn to appreciate tracks like this too.  I do like the space this track provides between the onscreen events and I’m sure you’ll be fine with it all too.
  • Low Frequency Extension: I would say for the most part the LFE delivers on adequacy.  Loud onscreen events, however, do make themselves known such as the motorcycle chase, police cars making unbelievable jumps, gunshots, explosions like the gas station going up in flames, crashing through barricades and more.  For me the weakest part of this category is the fight scenes.  You don’t feel the blows like you would in a modern day movie.  Instead they pretty much leave the sound effects of the time intact here.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: I kind of hinted at things up above that this one is very top heavy.  It’s not ultra directional, but most of the big action sequences do immerse and please from behind too.  You have car chases, motorcycles, dogs barking, explosions, etc.  You mileage may vary here, but I found the rear channels to at least hold up when needed.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue are mostly always clear and intelligible throughout and that makes me very happy.

First Blood


The First Blood 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack is loaded with special features (majority of them available on the former UK Blu-ray release).  There are two audio commentaries, as noted below, housed on the 4K disc too.  We also are treated to a new, never-before-seen featurette, “Rambo Takes the 80’s Part 1”, which looks back at the incredible impact of this action film.  With the exception of the two commentaries all the extras are found on the Blu-ray Disc and of course it all comes packaged with a redemption sheet for a Digital Copy of the movie too.  Read on below to learn about everything you’ll find here.


  • Audio Commentary by Sylvester Stallone
  • Audio Commentary by David Morrell


  • “Rambo Takes the 80s Part 1” (HD, 17:43) – This extra is all new and exclusive to this 4K UHD set.  We have an interesting look at how this flick came to be and how it’s called a Vietnam film.  David Morrell, the author of First Blood, even chimes in here about what influenced him to write the novel of the war coming home so to speak.  It explores the character of Rambo, what fuels him, etc. as well as some history lessons like it almost got nominated for best screenplay, but too much action and cheese.  They also go into how it’s a story about PTSD and so much more.
  • “Making Of” (SD, 22:34) – It’s interesting to learn all these little things like that Stallone accepted the role in less than 24 hours after receiving the screenplay.  He was completely invested in it once he was allowed to assist in writing it.  Kassar’s Godfather in France financed the film for 18 million.  There was worry because in the original script Rambo was very angry and killed 18 folks in it.  Sly came up with the idea that he never kills anybody and everyone thought that was brilliant.  The ending was in question because in the novel he dies.  Richard Crenna even began shooting the day upon arriving on set.  It was interesting to learn how hurt Stallone got from the stunts he did.  Test screening in Las Vegas hated the original ending of Rambo dying.  So much more here too!
  • Alternate Ending (SD, 2:02)
  • Outtake (SD, :54)
  • Deleted Scene (SD, 2:28) – Rambo’s cooking up your favorite beef over the flame in a cave here complete with a disco ball and breasts.  No joke!  This would have completely the pacing of the film, but I LOVE this deleted scene nonetheless.
  • The Restoration (SD, 1:35)
  • The Real Nam (SD, 26:56)
  • Forging Heroes (SD, 9:54)
  • How to Become Rambo Part 1 (SD, 14:20) – Wow!  Stallone’s training coach shows you how he trained Stallone for these movies to make him almost as ripped as me.
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:13)

First Blood


I know a lot of folks out there who own the Blu-ray and probably are faced with the tough decision.  Do I double dip on First Blood on the 4K format or stay happy with my Blu-ray?  I whole heartedly say Double Dip here!  First Blood has never looked so good as it does here and with a mere $14.99 release day price tag as shown below how can you lose?  While Brandon Peters waited for me to get this first review up he’s already whetting  you appetite on the site for Rambo: First Blood Part II on 4K disc and Rambo III via his reviews here and here.  Enjoy and have a safe, respectful and Happy Veterans Day!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified Ultra HD Premium television set found here and player here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


First Blood

Spills On

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

November 13th




First Blood 4K Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

1 Response to “First Blood (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Kiara

    At least they made Rambo’s connection to it more clear