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Sylvestor Stallone Blu-Ray Smackdown: Rambo Collector’s Set

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Sylvestor Stallone’s new movie The Expendables explodes into theaters on August 13 (exaggerated marketing pitch? Watch the trailer and tell me you think a better word is suited to describe its arrival), and that means many of his big movies are getting the Blu-Ray “special edition” makeover – along with a few of his pals’ old movies. With the Rocky movies already having received the full Blu-Ray treatment, it was only a matter of time before Lionsgate packaged all the Rambo movies into a nice, clean, bloody package.

The result is Rambo: The Complete Collector’s Set, which contains all four Rambo movies and a bunch of bonus features – many if not all having been included on previous disc releases. If you don’t have the Rambo movies on Blu-Ray and want to experience every gut-punching moment of action in high-definition goodness, the set is a greatway to add all the movies to your collection at once – but you don’t need a movie critic to tell you that. Unless you can’t count to four. Which is always possible.

Thankfully, all four movies stand up well even after all this time. It’s interesting to see how First Blood, an action-drama, quickly resulted in two action-heavy sequels; it’s fun to see Rambo back in Vietnam in First Blood: Part II; and it’s a blast – but sort of ironic – to have the title character in Rambo III fighting the Russians with Afghan freedom fighters, some of whom would, in the real world, become America’s enemy ten years later. And of course, the fourth film Rambo is a bloody good time.

As far as bonus features go, the Blu-Ray set comes with over 20 of them. The good news is that in accordance with many of Sly Stallone’s bonus features, the behind-the-scenes featurettes provide a great deal of depth and insight into the creation of the movies; the bad news is that many of them have been seen before, though none of them are included in the Ultimate Edition DVD set I’ve had in my collection for some time. One of the most interesting featurettes is titled Afghanistan: Land in Crisis, which looks at the problems Afghanis have faced since the 1970’s.

Interestingly, Lionsgate is releasing the fourth Rambo movie as a separate Blu-Ray as well – but with different features. On the solo disc, Rambo: To Hell & Back is an amazingly detailed documentary about the creation of the film; Stallone narrates behind-the-scenes footage on a day-by-day basis. If you want to see what goes into the production of a movie, this featurette gives an informative glimpse.

The Rambo: Complete Collector’s Set is a package that’s well worth owning; containing a large amount of lengthy bonus features as well as all four Rambo movies, it is deserving to be in any action fan’s collection. If you want to see a kick-ass behind-the-scenes featurette, though, you’ll have to purchase the separate Rambo Blu-Ray. Both versions are now available in stores as of today.

In other news, Sylvestor Stallone’s prison drama Locked Up is also coming to Blu-Ray. The movie is about a model prisoner who is transferred to a dangerous prison by a revenge-fueled warden (Donald Sutherland). Though he’s trained himself to not raise a finger to anyone, the warden drives him to violence. The Blu-Ray contains a making-of featurette, interviews with the cast, a behind-the-scenes documentary and a Sylvestor Stalloen profile. The movie itself is just OK.

In anticipation of The Expendables release, Lionsgate is also releasing Johnny Handsome, which stars Stallone’s upcoming co-star Mickey Rourke as a deformed scumbag who gets a second chance after a radical procedure gives him a new face. Ironically, Rourke would begin the opposite transformation not long after the release of this movie. Though Rourke turns in a fine performance, the movie itself is dated and not worth watching – unless you want to see a painfully bad performance by co-star Elizabeth McGovern. The Blu-Ray comes with three featurettes and the theatrical trailer.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: DVD Releases, Movie Reviews
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