This Three disc set includes the first three Rambo's of the franchise:Rambo-First Blood(released Oct/82),Rambo-First Blood Part 2(released May/85) and finally Rambo 3(released May/88).I had not seen these films since their theatrical debuts way back when,and I must say I was totally impressed at the quality of the prints here.These films have never looked better.Of course all three were financial successes at the box office and propelled Mr Stallone into a major star.Looking back into the 80s,Vietnam had been on the minds of the public for some time.There was of course the rethinking of the vilifying of the vets who came home.But the focus in the news had shifted from the debacle it became,to MIAs left behind.Also in the news was the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and its peoples continuing struggle against the Russkies(that's when the West backed the Muhajideen fighters).These three movies took pieces from the news of the day and incorporated it into their product.Chuck Norris at the time was doing the same,and also very successfully.And of course Mr Stallone would utilize small touches from each of his Rambo films and incorporate them into his very successful(see my review)2008 sequel.
Rambo-First Blood starts the series out with a bang.John Rambo,a highly decorated Vietnam vet,is traveling through Hope,Oregon when he gets stopped and literally driven out of town by the chief of police(Brian Dennehey),just for how he looks.He takes alot of abuse,but returns to the town and gets arrested.In jail he is again abused while being held and he finally can't take anymore.He breaks out and is on the run.The State police and National Guard are called out to assist in the manhunt.This gets the attention of his former commander Col.Trautman(Richard Crenna),who comes in to assist them and put a bug in their collective ears as to who they're dealing with.His presence is less than accepted by the Police Chief and they are,more times than not,at loggerheads.The final battle comes down with a confrontation between the police chief and Rambo.As Rambo is about to get vengeance the Colonel arrives to stop him and convinces him to stand down and surrender.The film ends as he is walking amongst the police cars.
Rambo-First Blood Part 2 has John taken out of prison by Colonel Trautman and delivered to Thailand.There he is in on a secret operation to determine whether or not there are still Vietnam vets alive and held prisoner in that country.He is given orders not to engage the enemy but take pictures only.He meets up with his liaison(Julia Nickson),who escorts him into the jungle location of the camp.When they arrive the camp at first looks deserted.Upon closer inspection the camp is populated not only by Vietnamese soldiers but by Russians as well.On top of that John has discovered captured American prisoners.One is tied to a stake,whom he frees and flees with.He makes it to the rendezvous point and just as the helicopter is about to land,they get orders to abort.On board is Col.Trautman who is held at gunpoint after objecting.It seems the pilot and escort are just paid mercenaries.John gets captured and tortured and is forced to send a radio message to his superiors.As he tells the man who ordered the Chopper to return,that he is coming for him,Nickson has sneaked into the compound and assists in John's escape.They flee and Nickson gets killed.John commandeers a helicopter and returns to the camp to shoot it up.He gets all the American POWS and they fly off.However the Soviet camp commander follows him,forcing him to land in a riverbed.John plays dead just long enough,then gets up and fires a bazooka,downing the Soviet commander.John returns to base and shoots up the base office equipment.Then he deposits his knife within inches of the head of the man who ordered the abort.John walks off into the jungle.
Lastly Rambo 3 has John eking out a living in Thailand,living with Buddhist monks.One day Col.Trautman appears asking John to assist him in going into Afghanistan to supply arms to a contingent of the Muhajideen.John refuses.Col.Trautman goes it alone,and he and his men get captured.Word comes back to John and John goes into Afghanistan to get his old boss,being held in a Soviet prison.He meets up with a group of freedom fighters who agree to help him,but back down when the camp is destroyed by Soviet aircraft.He must travel to the prison with two rebels,a boy and an adult.John gets in but his presence is detected and things get too hot to stay,so he flees,temporarily.John is wounded but stays the course and returns to get Col.Trautman.John hijacks a Soviet helicopter and he,the colonel and some rebels,flee.However they can only get so far as their chopper suffers heavy damage.They go down and John and the Colonel flee on foot into some caves.They are followed and they have to dispatch about a half dozen Soviet soldiers.Once out they are confronted by an entire Soviet battalion consisting of soldiers,armoured vehicles and tanks.They stand for a moment assessing their odds until John decides to go for it,and they fight.Just into the fight they hear a rumbling.It is a huge contingent of rebels on their way on horse back.John,the Colonel and the rebels take on the Soviets,with John taking down a Soviet helicopter with one of their own tanks.The film ends as the two say goodbye to their rebel friends.
Everyone likes a hero and John Rambo was one of your quintessential types in that category.A lone wolf,with a dark,dark past,just bubbling below his calm demeanour.If pushed to the limit he would act so his foe would not be able to react,ever again.Once in the zone,John Rambo is almost indestructible.He is loyal to himself,those around him and to his country.We feel empathy for just those qualities alone.But Rambo is also an ex Green Beret with very specialized training and with a myriad of decorations to his credit.It is made plain that it was own government that made him into what he ultimately became.So again we empathize even more.It is a marvelous character Mr Stallone portrays and I cannot think of anyone else who could have filled his shoes like he did.Keep an ear out in Rambo 2 when John is talking to his Vietnamese liaison.He tells her that he is "expendable".He goes onto explain to her what that is.We all know now that Mr Stallone did not forget that line and has since put it to good use.
Technically speaking the films are in their original w/s a/r's of 2:35:1 and clear and crisp.Each DVD has their own featurette,cast and production notes and commentary.
All in all a winner of a boxed set and at a reasonable price too.I first bought the newest set which includes all four movies but I could not get a set without scuffs and scratches.So I turned to this set and it is fine.Any Rambo buff will revel in these films that are presented in very clean form.The films are edge of your seat,stand up and cheer films that will keep you watching again and again.Highly Recommended.