Rambo – Theatrical & Extended Cuts (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Rambo 4K ReviewRambo, Rambo: The Extended Cut, Rambo IV, John Rambo or whatever you want to call it is Sylvester Stallone’s follow-up, some 20 years later, to the successful Rambo franchise of the 80’s.  Unlike its predecessor, Rambo III, this film kicks a$$ in all four of my major action/war critical requirements: realism/believability, brutality, heart pounding action sequences and satisfying necessary emotional ties.  However, this time around on the newer 4K disc format, Lionsgate provides us customers from the get go with both the theatrical and alternate Director’s Cut versions on the 4K disc of what many peeps may call Stallone’s best entry into the franchise since the original film.I asked this back in 2010 and I’ll ask it again here.  Did we really need another cut of the successful 2008 film or should the question simply be did the fans really want another version?  I can’t speak for everyone, but in the case of the last question my answer was a loud hell yeah, bring it on!  Perhaps the real question here is whether this Extended Cut is really better than the theatrical presentation?  Rest assured though no matter how you feel about it, like it or not, we’re getting another Rambo adventure this year too as he makes his “Last Stand”…but I digress.


Like I said in the paragraph above, unlike the previous two sequels, this fourth film keeps the super serious tone of the original one.  And interestingly enough, Rambo holds the record for the most kills out of the entire franchise with an astonishing 236.  Stallone has gone on record stating that the violence in the film is justified as to draw attention to what’s really happening in Burma.  I cannot disagree.  One viewing of this had me wanting to give up my freedom and take sides with the Karen rebels out there.  The way those innocent people are brutally slaughtered and mutilated is just sick.  It truly is hell on Earth there.  And this is where the movie completely tugged on my emotions and re-opened a lot of deep wounds.  I really want to make a difference in the world after each and every viewing of this one.  And when you are left feeling like this after watching a movie, you know the director perfectly executed his job.  I give much respect and admiration to Sylvester Stallone for bringing about the awareness of this war torn region to moviegoers everywhere.  Now, if we can just all do something about it!  I can hear the film’s moving score in my head right now as I pen this review.  Brilliant!

Anyone already familiar with the 2008 film probably needs no refresher on the plot here.  It is what it is.  That is… Rambo returns to action, with the help of hired militia, to rescue U.S. missionaries who go missing from a village in Burma.  One of the missionaries in particular, Sarah Miller (Julie Benz), previously struck an emotional accord with John Rambo before leaving.  She made Rambo search his heart and he found out that he really does care about people and events going on around despite his previous beliefs and statements made.  John has put his war torn past aside for 20 years now only to find himself come full circle with who he really is… a killer… this time with a humanitarian interest.  Go Rambo go!

The realism/believability part of the story comes into play where this time around, it’s not only Rambo making the difference, but it’s a cumulative team effort.  With the help of the hired militia (mercenaries) and Karen rebels, Rambo joins forces to temporarily overthrow the iron-fisted rule of the Tatmadaw led by Burmese military officer Major Pa Tee Tint.  At first I was kind of taken aback by Rambo not going all out on his own, but let’s face it, the dude is in his 60’s here and even he can use some help… finally!  Anyway, the mercenaries are hilarious and well developed in the screenplay.  They are a much-welcomed addition to the film and in hindsight; I would not want it done any other way.  It’s not like Rambo doesn’t save the day anyway in the end.  Right?

And as far as the action, violence and gunplay goes, well it doesn’t get any better than this folks.  Thanks to the brilliant score of Brian Taylor, the action is exemplified to the umpteenth degree.  I want to give kudos to Brian and Stallone for ingeniously arranging this.  From the heart pounding escape scene from the claymore to one of the most brutal Act III resolutions in modern film history, Rambo will not disappoint you in the action, brutality, believability and emotional categories.  You can take that to the bank and cash it.  Why did Stallone wait so long in life to develop this script and the Rocky one, I will never know?  But I do know this, both of those films are some of his best work, and despite the final like ending we have here in Rambo, I have always been hoping for at least one more adventure despite what was posted HERE back in 2010.

Back in my original Blu-ray review of this Extended Cut title I bet you that the real reason you are all here reading my review is because you want to know what differences you can expect from this 99-minute cut of the film compared to the original 91-minute one.  Right?  Well that’s easy, it’s 8 minutes of difference.  LOL.  No but seriously, I put together this bullet point list below of all the MAJOR differences found between the two.  I purposely left out some of the minor differences that I was just too lazy to write down.  Enjoy!

  • The film is titled JOHN RAMBO, but nowhere on the box art or disc is this name associated.  Weird huh?
  • There are a few more brutal real images at the beginning newsfeed.
  • There’s more snake catching and more playing around with the snakes as our lovable Johnny bags them up.
  • There’s more of Julie Benz bugging Rambo to take her group on a boat ride into Burma.  In fact, there’s a whole new scene of her begging him.  The law of 3!  This kind of gets old quick, but it is the law of 3 so I digress.
  • There’s a longer night scene in a village that’s being raided.
  • They completely changed the “what is” speech on the boat that takes place in the rain between Julia’s character and Rambo.  John talks about politics and war and admits he wasted his life on war.  That’s a true statement I guess.
  • There are longer conversations to be had between the missionaries and Rambo on the boat ride to Burma.
  • There’s a slight change to the pirate shootout scene.
  • There’s a longer goodbye scene between John and Sarah when he drops them off in Burma.
  • There are new flashback scenes when Rambo (I keep wanting to call him Rocky) is burning the pirate ship.
  • The raid on the village where the missionaries are starts out quicker.  In my opinion, it feels too abrupt.
  • There is a new scene where the missionaries are at the prison camp.  They talk about the treatment and torture of the prisoners.
  • After the pastor told Rambo about the missing prisoners, the hammer scene is a bit different.  Instead of Rambo’s voiceover where he says, “war is in his blood and all…” you hear a prayer voiceover from the pastor.  It kind of loses meaning now in my opinion.
  • There are some slight variances in the rescue of the missionaries.  I did not mind this, as it is the thumping music that really fuels these scenes after all.
  • After the rescue, Rambo now notices that Sarah hurt her foot.  He wraps it up for her.  What a nice guy.
  • And last but not least, there is a longer goodbye scene between Rambo and Sarah at the conclusion of the brutal warfare resolution of Act III.

So there you have it.  Obviously, as I stated before, I did not list every little change above.  The above bullet points were the most notable changes I saw so I wanted to make sure they were captured on your computer screen for your reading pleasure.  All in all, if I had my way, I prefer the theatrical presentation of the film.  I feel that these new and modified scenes do not lend themselves well to the flow and pacing of the story.  If I had never seen this, I would have lived life being completely satisfied with only my theatrical version.  It’s still a must-see and probably a must-purchase for all the fans out there, but casual viewers should always think twice about spending 99 minutes of their lives watching something they didn’t much care for in the first place.  However, the movie is still one of my favorite films from the new millennium so that’s the reason for the high score despite my sentiments toward the alternate Extended Cut housed with the theatrical one here.


The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the Extended Cut 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of Lionsgate’s Rambo.  For anyone who wants to know what the 1080p Blu-ray presentation looks like you journey starts HERE.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 2160p
  • Dolby Vision: Yes
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The video presentation is where I always had problems with Rambo on Blu-ray.  I know a lot of critics will praise it, but to my eyes, it has always been a bag of mixed goods.  However, that ends here!  Rest assured that when the sun shines in this one so does this 4K presentation.  The jungle literally comes to life in all its breathtaking glory.  Closeups reveal fine details such as pores, beads of sweat, moles, stubble, blood and so much more.  That’s not to say there aren’t some rough moments throughout with found and stock footage, flashbacks and grainy/source noise ones.
  • Depth: There’s actually a lot of depth to be found throughout here, especially within the jungle.  The jungle is like its own character here complete with three-dimensional depth from within and out.  Probably the best examples of depth here include the way its shot like the boat rides to Burma where the backgrounds are almost completely blurred out.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are very natural throughout here, but never overly deep.  However, there are a few exceptions to that rule during nighttime sequences.  The one saving grace is not once do you ever have an issue seeing anything going down within the shadows and dimly lit sequences.  The HDR keeps things visible.
  • Color Reproduction: There’s a sometimes bright, rich and colorful look to everything here that’s very easy on the eyes and quite striking…especially the natural look of it all.  Particularly noteworthy are the bright glow of fire, explosions and flames against the dark blacks.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all look natural in appearance.
  • Noise/Artifacts: I wish I could say this 4K presentation is completely clean with zero debris, but I’d be lying.  Truth be told there’s always a very thin layer of grain and source noise throughout.  However, sometimes its heavier than other times like in the darkness or the blurred out backgrounds during the boat rides that produces so much depth.  There’s also the stock and slash back footage to contend with, but definitely not a deal breaker at all to me here.


Like I mention 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 Rambo.  The original Blu-ray Disc comes armed with a 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and my thoughts on that can be read HERE.

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Like in the video section up above, the jungle comes to life here.  In fact, I never heard a jungle sound so fantastic, not to mention the rainfall.  I’m general a tropical person by trait, but I hate being trapped inside by the rain.  However, let the rain fall down here!  In fact… all around me!  It is quite blissful hearing that rain pour from every which direction.  This surround track is simply killer, but I digress.  Just know that priority and directionality are paramount here.  On top of all that there’s that rousing Brian Taylor score that seamlessly blends into the presentation here like a familiar onscreen character.  To top it all off though nothing gets lost in the shuffle.  Every spoken word is incredibly rendered and audible.
  • Height: I really love this Atmos track and the way the channels are utilized to take advantage of the many onscreen opportunities especially when it comes to the explosions that go off from the ground and protrude overhead and that heavy rainfall.  Oh my!  I know it sounds like I am being giddy and gushing, but land mines are no joke…especially here.  However, when you throw one in the water and someone steps on it the Atmos channel brings the craziness to all new “heights.”  The water and debris just shoot overhead and of course all come crashing down too.  Also, speaking of the rain, there are bonafide moments of thunder overhead too.  It’s most noticeable in the flashback sequences.  This is just a smidge of what to expect.  I obviously don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone with this superb Atmos presentation.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The bass goes BOOM more times than I count here thanks to the many explosions, gunshots and those HUGE .50 caliber weapons.  When those things fire you’ll feel it. Believe me there!  For what it’s worth there’s also a lot of emotional weight in the score too.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: There are explosions, bullets zinging by and gunshots happening around you everywhere here in this surround track.  What I really loved was the ferocity of the rain all around you and how when an explosion went off in front of you the debris would fly overhead and land behind you here in the rear channels.  However, what’s most impressive is probably the ambiance of the jungle, which comes to life here in the rears.  It’s like you’re inside the jungle, baby!
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue levels are all loud, clear and intelligible throughout the 4K presentation.  There are absolutely zero complaints here.  I never had an issue understanding a single spoken word despite all the bombastic moments.  Even my issues I had in my initial Blu-ray review with the dialogue in the Extended Cut have been addressed here.

Special Features  

So here’s the deal with this 4K release.  The 4K disc contains both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film in 4K.  Also, all the extra features from both the original and Extended Cut Blu-ray releases are housed on the 4K disc.  That’s super nice because it makes it one stop shopping so to speak.  The other disc included in this combo pack is a 1080p Blu-ray that houses the Extended Cut like in my original review HERE.  So when push comes to shove I really couldn’t be happier about the fact that all the extras are in one place where they belong here…on the 4K disc.  Also, as one would expect, there’s a redemption code to enjoy Rambo in 4K digitally too.  Now that we have all that housekeeping out of the way let’s take a closer look down below at everything we’ll find here in way of supplemental materials.

  • Audio Commentary with Sylvester Stallone (Theatrical Cut Only) – Do I really need to tell you why this is a MUST-listen to?  I didn’t think so!
  • It’s a Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon (HD, 19:43) – This one looks at the origin of the story here not to mention the controversy of bringing the character back after all these year.  Screw the haters I say.  LOL.
  • A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo (HD, 6:31) – These are always my favorite to watch as score is like a character to me in a movie, but seeing how involved Stallone was in this just makes this all the more inspirational to view.
  • The Art of War: Completing Rambo (HD, 10:02) – This one covers both the editing process and the importance of capturing the authentic sounds here.
  • The Weaponry of Rambo (HD, 14:23) – This one should be pretty self explanatory, huh?  Well, hopefully it is! This one examines the firearms and other weapons used here as well as the training the actors had with using them.  And oh yeah…you get to see that .50 caliber.   Boom!
  • A Hero’s Welcome: Release and Reaction (HD, 9:30) – This one covers the film’s premiere as well as the reactions to it.  For some reason I was not asked to be part of this one.  Boo!
  • Legacy of Despair: The Real Struggle In Burma (HD, 10:41) – This one is all about the very sad conflict in Burma.  It’s quite informative, but also very heartbreaking that this is real.  It’s not a movie folks.
  • Rambo: To Hell & Back” Director’s Production Diary (HD) –  This one is 1 hour and 23 minutes long and is definitely worth your time checking out.  It’s kind of a like a day-by-day production diary of the movie shoot.  It’s interesting seeing Stallone behind the camera and scoping things out.  There’s much to be learned here and I obviously cannot recommend this lone extra enough.  It’s worth the price of admission if you haven’t seen it already.
  • Deleted Scenes  (HD, 13:45) – There are a total of four deleted scenes here.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:27)

Final Thoughts  

It’s really quite simple folks.  Do I think this is worth double dipping on?  Absolutely… if you are a fan of the franchise.  I’m going to go ahead and recommend this one as a Day 1 purchase here, but buyer beware… I’m being biased here.  This movie is a favorite of mine, and I will go down swinging in opposition to anyone who bashes this film.  It is motivating, heart wrenching, action packed and completely brutal in its realism as it depicts the longest running civil war in the world and the genocide of innocent people.  And oh yeah… it’s Rambo!  “Let the bodies hit the floor!”  However, on an ultra serious note as it relates to the 4K presentation alone, this movie has genuinely never looked and sounded better.  The extra Atmos oomph really packs a wallop and isn’t it nice having your extras conveniently rolled up into one place?  I think so!


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.  The images used above within the review are not actual 4K screenshots.  They are for illustrative purposes only.  



Blows Stuff Up In Atmos on

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

September 3rd




Rambo 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).

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