Rambo: Extended Cut (Blu-ray)
John Rambo has been living a simple life in the quiet reaches of Thailand away from the world and away from war. That is until a group of missionaries with a clear death wish drop in on him in hopes that he’ll take them into Burma. Knowing Burma’s nothing but a warzone Rambo reluctantly agrees but when the missionaries go missing Rambo must join forces with a group of mercenaries in hopes rescuing them from certain death.
I didn’t care for RAMBO the first time I watched it and I hoped that this second run through the jungle would fare better. Thankfully it did, though this film is not without its faults. The first Rambo flick was pretty good for its time but RAMBO 2 is what blew my mind and had be wearing headbands and bugging mom to buy me a huge knife. The third one was “meh” but I can’t say that I was unhappy with Sly’s decision to expand both Rambo’s and Rocky’s worlds with new age sequels (for the record I loathed ROCKY 5). On both counts Sly brought back his two most iconic characters with class and style and in Rambo’s case, this setting is exactly what I would have expected from the character.
The opening scene is one of my favourites as who else but Rambo would be crazy enough to be out catching cobras and water snakes (two of THE most deadly snakes in the world), not that the Asian dudes with him were any better, taking the snakes out of the bag so that they could poke and prod at them, pissing them off royally. The boat scene with the mercenaries was another good one, when the leader was giving Rambo some lip. The look on Rambo’s face was a lot like the look Arnie gave Bill Paxton in TRUE LIES just before he broke his neck. Rambo could have smoked all those fools before they even knew what hit them, he didn’t but the fact that he could have if he wanted to was enough to make me smile.
The psychological approach this movie took to the character was also worthy of note even if they only did show his restless dreams from the past only once and briefly at that. Rambo’s a tortured soul and a few more years certainly didn’t change that. I found this film aged him gracefully though and even made him more humble. The war end of things is where I was let down. Though in all honesty Burma is one of the few places left in the world that we could have sent Rambo in shooting (I’m very curious to see where he goes next). The gore was a tad over the top. War is brutal, I get that, but having soldiers bet on which prisoner will blow up on a landmine as they’re herded across a body of water is a touch much. Add to that an excessive amount of body parts whizzing through the air and gallons of red stuff and you can visualize the kinda party I’m talking about.
JOHN RAMBO is a solid action flick that digs down deep into the roots of its protagonist hauntingly well and paints a dark picture of war and cruelty. This is not a film for the squeamish that’s for sure, even I winced a couple times and I was brought up on this stuff (RAMBO was the first R rated action flick I ever saw, that, COMMANDO and then COBRA). Sly did a great job keeping the game going and though it’s not the best in the series it’s good for a watch here and there. I’m not sure about the whole “extended cut” end of things as I didn’t feel I saw anything different (and the runtime was still a slim hour and thirty nine minutes which is pretty short) but I can’t say it was a bad ride. Onward to THE EXPENDABLES baby!
Video: 2.40:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. Let the bodies hit the floor baby, cause in HD you can almost feel the warm blood a flowing.
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD in English, French and Spanish with the same subtitle options. Rambo’s a man of few words but I was impressed with the dialogue Sly gave him, though I’m still on the fence when it comes to that “live for nothing, die for something” quote.
Rambo: To Hell & Back-Director’s Production Diary (1:23:33): Wow, this bad boy’s nearly as long as the feature film itself! Sly goes above and beyond here to give us a bird’s eye view of how it all came together and top it all off, he shot this thing in forty two days when it should have taken him ninety. This is great stuff, from carving the village and sets out of the wild jungle to playing with live cobras and who knew that chainsaws were illegal in Thailand?
Previews: There are a slew of LIONSGATE film trailers including (of course) one for THE EXPENDABLES.