Rambo: First Blood Part II (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

We are going to be getting a fifth and final film covering the life and times of one John Rambo, as portrayed by Sylvester Stallone. Lionsgate is taking the original three film and giving them the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray update before that happens next year. No word as of yet on the fourth film from 10 years ago, but one can assume they won’t leave that one hanging dry for long. Now that Rambo has been laid out, how about our old pal Jigsaw get his series ported over to 4K? Sorry, I’ll stay on point. This review will be covering the sequel, which was also a seminal action film for the 1980s, setting a whole slew of standards and really unleashing the beast. You can pre-order it by using the Amazon link following the review.


He’s back! Superstar Sylvester Stallone is John Rambo, the ultimate action hero, in this explosive Oscar®-nominated sequel to First Blood that boasts a riveting screenplay by Sylvester Stallone and James Cameron. Although the Vietnam War is officially over, Rambo remains the perfect fighting machine. But his survival skills are tested with a vengeance on a top-secret mission that takes him back to the jungles of Vietnam in search of American POWs. For when Rambo is double-crossed, this “expendable” hero, armed with just a bow, arrows and knife, must defeat savage enemies equipped with deadly firepower.

However misguided or not understanding the lessons of the first film Rambo: First Blood Part II may be, its still a damn fine piece of pure popcorn entertainment. The first film may be the prestigious and honorable one, but the second is a pivotal piece of pop culture cinema that helped (Along with Commando) to steer the action film in a brand new direction for the second half of the 1980s. Parodied countless times, the film still manages to hold up on its own merits.

People might look at First Blood Part II on the outside and think of it as some jingoistic propaganda, but its merely just a product of the 1980s. At its core, its a man returning to the scene of his ultimate nightmare and failure, seeking to make right and everything going wrong once again. He struggles to save his men and in a different way, his country once again betrays him. First it was the general population, now its the one sect he thought still had his back. I don’t think this movie is really preaching anything. Its just another action film set in the post-Vietnam fallout/heat of the Cold War with Russia. And lets be honest here, it doesn’t paint the United States military in a positive light either; anyone who see the film can see.

At its primal level of action, even today, Rambo: First Blood Part II is damn impressive. The film opened up the scale for the action films on a big level. This thing has explosions galore and includes helicopter battles among things. Yes, its to excess and a ridiculous level of gunfire and blowing things up, but at this point no one had really seen anything like it. At this level of practicality, its a massive achievement. This film looks and feels damn expensive and really walks the walk and talks the talk. Many things would be parodied from this movie, but its because much of it was so effective and iconic it could allow the common person to understand even if they weren’t very familiar or hadn’t seen the film.

As a character, its interesting how Stallone is able to still channel this guy after how deep and full gamut the first film had been with him. But, I think right away we can see he has a full grasp on him. During the opening moments behind the fence while he converses with Trautman, you can sense a deep guilt for the events of the first film and a kind of desire to keep himself from harming the public. When given the opportunity to at least make amends with his past, he takes it honorably. While he’s not on par with how they want to do the mission, he’s willing to follow the orders. Its not as good as the first film in terms of speeches and characters, but its still solid.

I’m not gonna be super deep about the second First Blood, as it I like to just take it on its surface as a pivotal film in the pure action genre. The film should be credited as its a pretty patient and more stealthy movie rooted more suspense and drama than it is big action. Then, in its third act, it rightfully goes berserk and what some may call over the top. But, its entertaining as hell. In a way, the beats and narrative actually feels right in line with the original film, just in a new setting with a new agenda. First Blood Part II almost feels like the Aliens to First Blood’s Alien. Which is interesting because James Cameron had a hand in both sequels. Overall, its just a fun film to watch explode and Stallone’s seminal moment as an 80s icon.


Encoding: HEVC/ H.265

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.34:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Rambo: First Blood Part II takes a nice jump from its VC-1 encoding to come to 4K Ultra-HD in a native transfer. There has been some careful and loving restoration done to the film as it looks pretty flippin’ fantastic. I was not expecting that. While Lionsgate is putting out the release, I believe this was all headed up by Studio Canal and distributed by Lionsgate. Details and sharpness have seen quite a jump. Colors are very much improved as well as blacks. This movie looks like it never has before and may never look better than this 4K Ultra-HD release.

Depth:  Spacing has improved greatly here. Many of the wider shots that just let you soak in the area of either the jungle or the ocean are now pretty breathtaking. The helicopter battles look pretty spacious and floaty. Foreground and background separation are much more three dimensional. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no distortion issues.

Black Levels: Here’s where the impression immersion happens. Blacks are natural and really paint a better picture here with great saturation and a real terrific retention of detail in dark areas.

Color Reproduction: Colors are really strong here with a good, bold natural look. Greens are the superstar with the jungle leaves and grass. Orange with the fires can sting off the screen and the little uses of red pop pretty good. HDR is mainly carried on with explosions, light bulbs and tail lights or headlights on vehicles.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a tad warm and keep their look from the beginning to the end of the film. Facial details are very strong with stubble, make-up, wrinkles, sweat beads, dried blood and dirt and more coming through from any reasonable distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: Rambo: First Blood Part II unfortunately does not get an Atmos facelift like many of the Lionsgate catalog upgrades. However, I think this was moreso headed up by Studio Canal than it was Lionsgate. It retains the 5.1 track previously featured on Blu-ray, which is a really good, rocking track in its own right. Its a good mix and really delivers in environmental ambiance and loud crashing explosions.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Explosions, gunfire, punches and all action sounds give a good pounding to your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Most of this is headed up front with accurate movements. Rear channels mainly provide ambiance thought there are some instances with debris or little actions taking place.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and always audible with a hair of analog his or canniness showing up.


Rambo: First Blood Part II 4K Ultra-HD comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. With the exception of the commentary track, all bonus features are found on the standard Blu-ray disc.


Audio Commentary

  • From George P. Cosmatos

Blu-ray Disc

Rambo Takes the ’80s Part 2 (HD, 11:37) – Some talking heads just explore the face of the world when the film came out, its impact on pop culture in America and how the rest of the world reacted to it. A few of these people serve to just sort of poke fun at the movie, but this is in some decent fun.

We Get To Win This Time (SD, 20:03)

Action in the Jungle (SD, 7:40)

The Last American POW (SD, 2:15)

Sean Baker: Fulfilling a Dream (SD, 2:16) 

Interview with Sylvester Stallone (SD, 2:11)

Interview with Richard Crenna (SD, 1:33)

Behind the Scenes (SD, 2:17)

The Restauration (HD, 1:02) – No audio, just shows a couple examples of film dirt and streak cleanups.

How to Become Rambo Part 2 (SD, 14:32)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:46)

Original TV Spots (SD, 2:44)


Rambo: First Blood Part II may be a big time product of the 1980s and America in a different time with a different mentality, but its still a pretty damn fun popcorn munching movies. It also helped to change the shape of action movies. Its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut sees a massive jump in video quality in impressive fashion while retaining an already awesome audio track. The new bonus feature here just is something to analyze and poke a little fun at the film. Overall, considering this is only $14.99 for pre-order, its a no-brainer to upgrade on Day 1.


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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