The ultimate American action hero returns - with a vengeance! Ralph Potts reviews 2008’s Rambo which is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2008
MPAA Rating: R/Unrated
Feature running time: 91/99 minutes
Genre: Action

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Paul Schulze, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Tim Kang
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Music by: Brian Tyler
Written by: Art Montrastelli & Sylvester Stallone
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: September 3, 2019
"Live for Nothing or Die for Something"

“The ultimate American action hero returns - with a vengeance! After spending several years in northern Thailand operating a longboat on the Salween River, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) reluctantly agrees to carry a group of Christian missionaries into war-torn Burma. But when the aid workers are captured by ruthless Nationalist Army Soldiers, Rambo leads a group of battle-scarred, combat -hardened mercenaries on an epic, last ditch mission to rescue the prisoners - at all costs.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

I Reviewed Rambo when it was originally released on Blu-ray and have included my comments from that review here. Ratings for bonus content will be the same as they are identical to the original release. I originally rated the film at 2.5 stars but, have since changed that. New comments and ratings for the new Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound are below.

Having long-since abandoned his life as a lethal soldier, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) lives a solitary life near the Thai border. Two weeks after guiding a missionary (Julie Benz) and her comrades into Burma, he gets an urgent call for help. The missionaries have not returned and although he is reluctant to embrace violence again, Rambo sets out to rescue the captives from the Burmese army.

I have been a Sylvester Stallone fan since I saw Rocky in the theater back in 1976. WhenFirst Blood came out back in 1982 I think it solidified Stallone as a star. I loved First Blood but when Part II came out, I was blown away (hey I was about 20 years old). The first two in the series have been my favorites as I never really connected with the third. After Rocky Balboa was released seeing this fourth installment in the Rambo franchise didn’t come as a surprise. I had seen it on Blu-ray disc prior to this review but, couldn’t help but jump at the chance to watch it again when Lionsgate offered it.

This is a straight forward and fairly simple story. For me, I see its focal point being one dimensional. The idea is to create a situation wherein John Rambo can be thrown back into the fray. I can appreciate the fact that there are no bones about that. The screenplay moves quickly to achieve its purpose and once there it delivers to that end in spades. The bad guys are quickly established and get enough time onscreen so that we figure that they deserve the worst that Rambo can dish out.

Once things are underway it gets bloody, graphically violent, and lots of stuff blows up. I could have done without the sexual assaults on women and the inference of a sexual assault on a minor though. Things are wrapped up and our man saves the day (for the most part). I thought the ending was a little corny but, that’s Stallone’s style.

When all was said and done, I enjoyed Rambo. I liked the quick paced nature of the story and, the action sequences were well done. It was overly violent which I thought could have been taken down a notch. I did appreciate its attempt to realistically depict the effects of gun battles and war.

This Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack includes both the Theatrical and Extended Cuts of the film.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images and language.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • HDR: Dark Highlights: 
  • HDR: Bright Highlights: 
  • HDR: Expanded Color: 
  • Resolution: 
  • Visual Impact: 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

Rambo comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD Rambo was rendered from a 2K DI and up-converted to 4K. It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Rambo has an aesthetic that features many low-lit environs, natural lighting, and chromatic schemes that won't result in the type of glossy, tack-like sharpness typically associated with films shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

This can be a dark film, both tonally and visually, with some of its key scenes taking place in low lit environs with natural or candescent lighting. Looking at the film's opening moments the improvement in depth and definition compared to the 1080p rendering was noticeable. I could detect the finer details present in the exterior shots and the close-ups as well. The variety of sequences that take place on the water or in the jungle/villages didn’t offer a marked improvement in dimension but sharpness was stable.

The addition of high dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. The torches in and around the camps/villages at night, the fires of Rambo’s blacksmith shop and, the spotlight from the Burmese pirates ship as it cut through the darkness aboard the river appeared very lifelike. The star of the show was the daytime attack on the small village in chapter 6, with the large firefight during the finale coming a close second. The various explosions and streaming mortars had appreciable specular highlights and vibrant whites.

Dark highlights were rendered with excellent dimension when coupled with brighter visual elements. Mild black crush can be seen in low-level scenes but, this is something that was noticeable in the 1080p rendering so I would surmise that it’s innate to the source.

The image isn't razor sharp and, there are intermittent issues with innate softening, but detail rendering is very good overall. Grain remains intact with predominantly natural rendering that occasionally takes on more emphasis. The film utilizes sepia and a limited chromatic range but, the rendering of primary colors, looked a tad punchier here than on the Blu-ray. At the end of the day I believe that this Ultra HD rendering offers a faithful reproduction of the film’s elements.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Watching select scenes from Rambo I saw no discernible difference in the rendition of color. Specular highlights similarly appeared equal but, I did find that the DV rendering handled low-level transitions and delineation in shadows a bit better. This was noteworthy given the film’s plethora of scenes shot in low lighting. This film looks quite good in either HDR10 or DV but, I did find that the latter made for the more gratifying viewing experience.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Rambo already had a top notch 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround presentation on Blu-ray, which is taken to the next level in Dolby Atmos. The use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospherics and discrete effects that successfully expand the depth of the soundstage. This is done to very good effect, creating a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events with aplomb.

Rambo features a series of set pieces that show off the immersive effect as the blend of music, weapon fire and smaller object sounds rain down from above. When called upon everything comes together, (chapter 6 is off the chain) placing you inside the action as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I think that each complimented the source material, and made for an entertaining listening experience.

This Ultra HD release takes the enjoyment of an already solid home theater presentation to the next level, making for an entertaining viewing/listening experience. Turn up the volume and prepare to be rocked. Kudos to Lionsgate…

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Rambo Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Rambo Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Features
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Rambo isn’t high on the lists of film critics as a creative work but, I have always found it to be an enjoyable albeit, dark bit of escapism that I don’t mind revisiting. It is making its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, featuring a faithful video rendering (which includes Dolby Vision HDR) that makes the most of the source material, a terrific Dolby Atmos immersive sound mix, and solid supplemental package that consists of legacy material. If you’re a fan and are set up for Ultra HD Blu-ray/Dolby Atmos this is a no brainer.
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems