Following the success of 1982’s impressive Rambo: First Blood, 1985 saw Sylvester Stallone’s John Rambo brought back to screens with Rambo: First Blood Part II. And now, much like two other Rambo efforts, First Blood Part II has received the 4K Ultra HD treatment.
Plot-wise, Rambo II see Sly’s Vietnam vet thrust back into the fire. Having been locked up in a hellhole environment following his antics in the first movie, we pick things up as Richard Crenna’s Col. Trautman offers Rambo a way out. That way out? It’s to take on a return mission to Vietnam in order to track down some surviving prisoners of war. And of course, there’s a few nefarious twists along the way as Rambo finds himself back in the environment in which he most thrives.
Given the landscape of the times when Rambo: First Blood Part II was released, this is a film that sums up the action genre perfectly. Whilst the first Rambo picture had a political skew to it, here we see that element put firmly in the background as action, action, action steps to the fore. That original film is often lazily viewed as being about bulging biceps and explosions, but it is far much more than that. Here, mind, First Blood Part II does indeed fall back on muscles and moments of ‘80s machismo for the most part. That’s not to say it’s not an enjoyable movie, and Charles Napier makes for a thorough bastard of a bad guy at the core of the follow-up’s plot, but this is a sequel that was clearly more about the dick-measuring contest going on between the heavy-hitting action stars of the time.
Rambo: First Blood Part II is as subtle as an exploding arrow to the head, with a ridiculous body count amassed as John Rambo does what he was born to do. It almost feels as if this takes everything that First Blood did so well to restrict, and just throws it all at the audience double-fold. To the point where elements of the movie begin to verge on parody. And then there’s the political elements at play, with First Blood Part II brimming with “America, fuck yeah!” tropes that were bizarrely mirrored in real life by Ronald Reagan back then - the then-US President stating, "After seeing 'Rambo' last night, I know what to do the next time this happens" in regards to a hostage rescue.
Much like the recent 4K UHD releases of Rambo: First Blood and Rambo III, this new release of Rambo: First Blood Part II is an absolutely crammed release that visually bursts from the screen in a mass of muscles, massacre, and mullets. The new 4K restoration is a belter, and it serves to further beef up the action-heavy skew that this sequel takes in relative comparison to the more political approach of its predecessor. And as for the bonus material, it’s the second part of the Rambo Takes the ‘80s featurette that’s the star of the show. The other material included here is all taken from previous releases, bar the How to Become Rambo fitness discussion, and the sheer volume of content makes this a release that really is a must-have for Stallone and Rambo fans.
If that rings true for yourself, this is most definitely something to add to your collection. For others, this could well just be seen as a slightly spruced up cash-in on one of the ‘80s most macho, quotable and destructive film.
Special Features: Audio commentary with George P. Cosmatos / Rambo Takes the ‘80s Part 2 / How to Become Rambo Part 2 / The Restoration / Four featurettes / Interviews / Behind the scenes / Original TV spots / Original trailer
RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II – 4K ULTRA HD / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: GEORGE P. COSMATOS / SCREENPLAY: JAMES CAMERON, SYLVESTER STALLONE / STARRING: SYLVESTER STALLONE, RICHARD CRENNA, CHARLES NAPIER, JULIA NICKSON, STEVEN BERKOFF / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW