Friday, April 17

A Classic on the Cutting Edge: Rambo - First Blood Part II (1985)

Directed by George P. Cosmatos
96 Minutes / Lionsgate Blu-ray / 1080p Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen

Charles Napier shits the bed after realizing he sent a one man foreign military annihilator out to pasture that's fully aware Mr. Napier was the man who attempted to seal his fate. Rambo is back and looking to make a slimy pencil pusher squirm with his own fecal soft-serve...along with finally winning the war he wasn't allowed to win. The once spurn hitchhiker just needs to bury about 70% of the Vietnam People's Army and at least 15% of Russia's armed forces where they stand before he can accomplish his mission. Oh and give a group of American POWs the chance to see the very first Wrestlemania event over at Crenna's private bachelor pad.

The film is an action criterion of macho fuck globalism green inferno explosion and serves as the basis for the many of the trashy, after-the-fact cash-ins reviewed here. Of course, the story lacks the still ripe for great box office numbers idea of the quiet outsider pushed too far from the first film in the series, but like the coke-fueled zeal of the '80s, this sequel is more interested in balls than brains.

Two things always immediately stump me about the core concept upon watching. Why in the hell would the government even consider (let alone choose) an unstable yet highly decorated boilerplate of a warrior that once alone brought both local and federal authorities to their knees in Washington state to hump it into his former medal-gatherin' battleground to merely take a few photos? That's one of the aspects designed to goat the audience into rooting for Rambo, but c'mon now. Also Rambo is given a gunny sack of arms including his trusty bow with explosive-tipped arrowheads...just to take a few photos. Yeah, Rambo loses most of it in a botched parachute drop, but c'mon now. But I guess I shouldn't think and just enjoy John rippin' Southeast Asia a new volcanic crater.

I refer to Napier and Crenna by actual name above since these are career-defining roles for the two actors. Mr. "I Got My Shit Rock By Dr. Lecter" Napier typifies a sweaty bureaucrat jerk off covering his and his superiors asses. Crenna also disappears into the role of weathered colonel who is the only other person alive possessing a glimpse inside the mind of Rambo. Stallone plays a slightly more evenly nuanced version of one of his trademark roles. We get more one-on-one here instead of stoic machine of a broken psyche and emotional outbursts presented in First Blood. The disarmingly attractive Julia Nickson-Soul is the recipient of most of Rambo's gloomy soul-baring. Though she's not just a pretty face to be entranced by as Rambo babbles on; she proves herself to be a valuable asset and at times a device of plot convenience. Martin Kove also shows up and attempts to sweep Rambo's leg only to need extensive orthodontic work by film's end.

The action is plentiful and varies up enough to never be dull. Arguably the best sequence arrives when Rambo decides to do some landscaping with fire and human bodies with chicken blood as bait. Everything else is massive mountainside explosions, squib torso infestations, and proof Russian Puma choppers aren't rocket-retardant. Jerry Goldsmith's cunning and athletic score keeps the huts explodin' like dominoes and compliments Stallone's serpentine physique as he's destroying Vietnamese family heritage whilst ending the Cold War single-handedly. This is an absolute must for every action fan worth their salt.

The Blu-ray is fantastic in terms of presentation, but the film's period and shooting conditions limit things to a degree. The correctly widescreen framed 1080p High Definition transfer is surprisingly bright and lively with the stubble on Rambo's visage never looking so clear. Though director Cosmatos does use soft focus at times, which is obvious at this resolution and caps off the fine detail present when not employed. There also is just a touch of artificial edge enhancement here-and-there. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track isn't terribly active in the surrounds, but should be praised for keeping all of the film's original foley effects intact. Unlike quite a number of other 5.1 remixes that add new, unintended sound effects to replace the original ones, like with Sony's 5.1 remix of The Terminator or Warner's 5.1 remix of Dirty Harry. The supplemental features here are sparse compared to the packed DVD Special Edition, with only a Cosmatos commentary track and twenty minute featurette.

Film: 8.5/10
BD Picture: 8.5/10
BD Sound: 8/10


Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite movies - thanks for giving it the time of day!

J. Astro said...

hehehehe yeah, good old Martin Kove seems way tougher when he's pickin' on Ralph Macchio. I was kinda sorry to see Kove so obviously out-classed by Sly here, but it had to happen.

Nick Sayers said...

Yeah I loved every second of this bluray. The part where he puts the sweat band on his head and its the shot of his back in full flex was worth the entire HD experience. you dare tread upon the staircase?

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