Rambo III

SteelBook Alert: Your Worst Nightmare

The troubling trend of ugly SteelBook cover art has perhaps hit its unfortunate zenith as the Rambo franchise (at least some of it) makes its debut in 4k Ultra HD.

I certainly hope I never see SteelBook art uglier than these! They look like a grade school art project gone terribly wrong. As John Rambo himself might say, “Urrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmuuuhhhhhhhurrrrrrrr…..” (The guy’s not known for being articulate.)

Rambo: First Blood

Video Formats: Blu-ray/UHD
Available at: Zavvi (ORDER HERE)
Release date: November 12, 2018
Price: £24.99

In addition to the ghastly art, I’ll also note that the original movie has been rebranded (for the packaging only, I hope) from First Blood to Rambo: First Blood.

The old Blu-ray for this movie is notorious for its poor video transfer. I expect the UHD to be an improvement, but I’ll definitely forego the SteelBook copy.

Rambo: First Blood SteelBook front

Rambo: First Blood SteelBook open

Rambo: First Blood SteelBook inside

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Video Formats: Blu-ray/UHD
Available at: Zavvi (ORDER HERE)
Release date: November 12, 2018
Price: £24.99

It’s amazing to me how little any of the sequels bear any resemblance to the surprisingly intelligent First Blood. Starting with the second movie, the franchise transitioned into a mindless, macho superhero cartoon. That’s a big disappointment, but it’s fun for what it is. James Cameron is actually responsible for the screenplay to this one, which is also amusing.

The expression on Stallone’s face in the back cover image sums up my reaction to the SteelBook.

Rambo: First Blood Part II SteelBook front

Rambo: First Blood Part II SteelBook open

Rambo: First Blood Part II SteelBook inside

Rambo III

Video Formats: Blu-ray/UHD
Available at: Zavvi (ORDER HERE)
Release date: November 12, 2018
Price: £24.99

For the incredibly misguided third entry, Rambo goes to Afghanistan and joins the Mujahideen, the predecessors to the Taliban. We’re meant to cheer for this. If that seems shocking, remember that James Bond made the same mistake.

Perhaps fitting for the series’ worst movie, this is also the worst SteelBook. It looks like somebody puked onto a decoupage of helicopters, explosions and horses.

Rambo III SteelBook front

Rambo III SteelBook open

Rambo III SteelBook inside

Rambo Trilogy

Video Formats: Blu-ray/UHD
Available at: Amazon Germany (ORDER HERE)
Release date: November 8, 2018
Price: €59.99

Missing in action is the fourth film, simply (yet confusingl) titled Rambo. However, if you want the first three bundled together in one SteelBook, you’ll have to look to Germany.

Of this series, the front cover of the trilogy package may be the least ugly SteelBook… Well, maybe it’s more accurate to say that it’s more appropriately ugly than the others. It’s still pretty bad, especially the comic book montage on the back.

Rambo Trilogy SteelBook with Wrapper

Rambo Trilogy SteelBook no Wrapper

Rambo Trilogy SteelBook open

Be advised that, while the UItra HD format has no region coding, the Blu-rays in the cases might be locked to Region B.

16 comments

  1. Chris B

    Those are indeed some ugly-ass releases. I’ll stick with the standard North American collection for now.

    On the subject of Germany, do collect German mediabooks at all Josh? They’re some of the coolest releases from anywhere in the world. Might make for an interesting blog entry for those unaware of their existence.

  2. Bolo

    I was revisiting all these films last week. I totally forgot how nuts the third movie is. The part where Rambo is kickboxing a spetsnaz commando and he wraps a noose around his neck, pulls the pin off a grenade on the commando’s vest, they wrestle with a live grenade between them, and Rambo kicks the commando off a ledge so that the noose hangs him and he explodes. I just died laughing.

    I’m not currently upgrading anything I have on blu to 4K. 4K is just for new purchases or stuff I never got around to upgrading from standard DVD to blu. I have the set with all four films that has a green case with Rambo’s knife on the front. A better presentation is probably possible, but this set does the job.

    Can’t wait for the upcoming fifth film, which will probably also end up just titled ‘Rambo’. They were toying with the idea of calling it ‘Rambo: Last Blood’, which I would like.

    • NJScorpio

      It’s been along time since I’ve seen Rambo III, but that’s the movie that taught me you can take down a helicopter with a bow and arrow.

      • Deaditelord

        Rambo does have some pretty impressive bows. I seem to recall him blowing up an entire village with just a bow and explosive arrows in Rambo: First Blood Part II. 🙂

  3. Timcharger

    Josh: “For the incredibly misguided third entry, Rambo goes to Afghanistan and joins the Mujahideen, the predecessors to the Taliban. We’re meant to cheer for this. If that seems shocking, remember that James Bond made the same mistake.”

    For a 1/3rd of all Americans now, they must watch Rambo 3 in rewind and with the TV set upside down. They now despise all Muslims and adore Russians. Heck, they probably now cheer for the hillbilly cop and his backwater posse in First Blood.

    • Timcharger

      First Blood should be rebooted. Michael B Jordan as John Rambo. Colonel Trautman will now be played by Stallone. Now the scenes when the hillbilly cops harass Rambo will be even more poignant.

  4. Warner

    Interesting that the back cover of the three stand alone releases all show Rambo getting choked. Why highlight the fact that he gets choked in every movie?

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      These discs are all being released by Studio Canal, which doesn’t own the fourth or upcoming fifth movies, just the first three.

      You’ll note that the trilogy package is only being released in Europe, not the USA. Studio Canal licenses to Lionsgate in this market. It so happens that Lionsgate does already hold the rights to Rambo 4 here and is a producing partner on 5. Lionsgate may be planning a 4- or 5-movie set of its own at some point if it can remaster the fourth one for UHD. (Studio Canal did all the work on the first three.)

  5. Charles M

    “James Cameron is actually responsible for the screenplay to this one, which is also amusing.“

    Stallone rewrote the script. According to him, he did like how it took 49 minutes for any kind of action to start. Stallone’s ego got in the way. The same ego that’s caused him to hijack the Creed 2 sequel.

    • Fingers crossed for ‘Creed II’ being decent. I love the first ‘Creed’.

      Is it really an ego thing? Our own Phil Brown wrote the following in his excellent ‘Creed’ review:

      “Unexpectedly, Sylvester Stallone might be even better than either of them. Allowing someone else to write ‘Rocky’ for the first time, all of his one-liners and histrionics are removed in favor of a battered, broken man who was once a hero. ”

      So Stallone had no problem letting Coogler write the screenplay to ‘Creed’ (decades after allegedly taking the screenplay from Cameron’s hands)

      • Bolo

        Throughout his career, Stallone has pushed for a lot of creative input on his projects. He typically has a hand in writing them, and when he isn’t the director, he tends to select small-fry directors that he can push around (several of the directors of his projects have commented on this).

        I have a lot of affection for the guy and I think he does want to give audiences big entertainment, but there’s definitely a huge ego there. Sometimes he seems willing to commit to another guy’s vision, but he obviously has very strong ideas about his image.

      • njscorpio

        Damn, I was reading these comments from the bottom up, and for some reason I thought Cameron wrote the first draft of Creed II…which was very confusing.

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