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Rambo cover

Blu-ray Reviews: Rambo (Reloaded Edition)

Originally published in Sound and Image, January 2009, v.22#03, Awards Special Issue
Last updated 21 April 2009

2008 - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Australia
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Reynaldo Gallegos, Jake La Botz, Tim Kang, Maung Maung Khin and Paul Schulze

Movie: 4 Picture: 5 Sound: 5 Extras: 4

Those who have actually seen the original Rambo movie -- First Blood -- recognise that it is a rather better and more subtle work than suggested by its reputation, or by the use of 'Rambo' as an epithet. For that reason it scores 7.3 on the Internet Movie Database, compared to the 5.6 and 4.7 of its two sequels.

What, then, are we to make of the 7.4 scored by this belated fourth entry?

The story isn't a patch on the first, but it isn't completely ludicrous. And the film-making sensibilities are more in accord with modern tastes. It's a decent action watch with the right guys getting their come-uppance, and with a somewhat unfashionable comment on the limits of pacifism. Be warned, though, .50 calibre firearms are widely deployed in this movie. It is one of the few movies of recent years, even though completely devoid of erotic content, to score an 'R' rating.

This is the complete Blu-ray. It has bookmarks (press the green key to store). It has a BonusView PIP commentary. It has BD-Live. In fact, the last half dozen Sony Pictures Blu-ray releases I've looked at have BD-Live content.

How could Sony develop BD-Live content for such forgettable titles as 1996's Maximum Risk? Well, it doesn't. Instead you get the much the same on all of them: eight or nine movie previews that you can download in HD or SD, a 'Spotlight' section with information, advertising and survey, and a 'My Profile' in which you can enter your own information. The available previews and the 'Spotlight' vary a little from disc to disc, but that's about it.

Even on the Playstation 3, BD-Live took 79 seconds to start up the first time, and 47 seconds thereafter.

Apparently on the American version there is a 'MovieLog' BD-Live feature which lets you participate in an on-line discussion. No such luck here. Likewise, the second 'Digital Copy' disc is not provided in Australia. These omissions lose this disc an 'Extras' star.

The picture quality was superb. The sound was pretty good for war-type stuff, but the Dolby TrueHD track had a major problem: it was recorded at too low a level. For a really involving experience I had to wind the volume up to -4.0 on the receiver, and the menu sounds threatened at this level to do damage to my loudspeakers. There is an option in the disc's Setup menu to adjust the effects level, but this would not work on any of three different players I tried.

Running time: 92 minutes
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 26.82Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby TrueHD 3/2.1 16/48 @ 1639kbps, English: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; Commentary: Dolby Digital 2/0.0 @ 192kbps with Dolby Pro Logic flag
Subtitles: Danish, Greek, English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Finnish, Turkish, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, English (Titles), Italian (Titles)
Extras: Bookmarks; BonusView PIP Video Commentary; Seven featurettes (1080i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 70 mins); Four deleted scenes (1080p24, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 14 mins); Trailers for Blu-ray and other movies (1080p24, MPEG2, DD5.1 @ 448kbps - 5 mins); BD Live; 7669 Test Patterns (1080p24, MPEG2 - 1 min); 'BonusView Commentary with Extended Exploration' version of movie (120 mins with BonusView PIP and seamless branching to other material)
Restrictions: Rated R (Australian rating); Locked to Region B

This is the video bitrate graph for this movie, viewed normally, generated by BDInfo 0.5.2:

Rambo video bitrate graph

This is the video bitrate graph for the 'BonusView Commentary with Extended Exploration' version of the movie:

Rambo 'Extended Exploration' version video bitrate graph

And here is the bitrate for the PIP stream, as appearing in the 'Extended Exploration' version. This is useful to help find when the PIP appears:

Rambo PIP video bitrate graph

© 2002-2009, Stephen Dawson