This week’s releases see a 4K release of some classic action movies, some TV and more. I’ll start with First Blood hitting 4K. The film that introduced the world to Sylvester Stallone’s John J. Rambo isn’t really like the rest of the series. Just like the Friday the 13th series, the first film is very different and has a completely different tone than the others. This sees Rambo trying to track down another Vietnam vet just to find out he died. Brian Dennehy sees Rambo walking around his small town and tries to push him out. Rambo ends up being arrested and mistreated by the local police before escaping into the mountains where Dennehy, David Caruso and other cops try to hunt him down. Rambo accidentally kills one person in the entire movie and it’s more about the plight of the Vietnam vet returning home and trying to assimilate. It’s not a crazy over the top action flick but it’s still a classic and the 4K looks fantastic and comes with some amazing bonus features like commentary with Stallone, tons of featurettes, a new, never-before-seen featurette, “Rambo Takes the 80’s Part 1”, which looks back at the incredible impact of this film. This is the best home video release of the movie to date.
What should follow that film? How about Rambo: First Blood Part 2 also on 4K. Now this is what you probably think of when you think Rambo. This sees Rambo sent to find prisoners of war long after Vietnam has ended. This is over the top action with machine guns, his bow and explosive arrows and violence! It’s a fantastic action film and loses the serious tone the first film has. It’s co-written by Stallone and James Cameron and increases the body count well beyond one. There are helicopters and boats and the bad guy from The Karate Kid, a stereotypical Asian woman speaking bad English, and so much more. The film looks and sounds great on 4K and comes with commentary by Director George P. Cosmatos, tons of featurettes including the “Rambo Takes the ‘80s Part 2” Featurette. Arguably one of the best sequels ever made and this is the best home video release of the movie to date.
What could possibly come next? Yep Rambo 3 on 4K. If you thought the second film was violent, boy do I have a film for you! Rambo 3 at one point was a Guinness Book of World Records holder for most violent film to date. It had the highest body count of any film, but actually somewhat disappointed at the box office at the time. That was because of timing. This film finds Rambo going into Afghanistan to rescue Col. Sam Trautman and help the Afghanis defeat the Soviets. This was actually happening in real life and by the time the movie came out, the Soviets had left the country. It did well overseas, but actually lost money in the US because with its $63 million budget, it was the most expensive movie ever made then. There was a director change, it’s tonally a mess throughout and three cinematographers also left. But you’re watching this movie for the ridiculous amounts of violence with Rambo riding horses, taking down helicopters with explosive arrows, and just pure carnage. It all looks and sounds stunning in 4K and like the others has a ton of featurettes including “Rambo Takes the 80’s Part 3”, audio commentary with the director and much more. This is the best home video release of the movie to date.
No, fourth isn’t Rambo from 2008 instead it’s the family friendly Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 3. Before every Pixar film at the movies is a little short film and this collections features all the latest ones including Bao from Incredibles 2. This also features the shorts that came with Pixar home video releases like Riley’s First Date? from the Inside Out home video and Legend of Mor’du from the Brave home video. There is a total of 13 shorts including Oscar-winner Piper (Best Animated Short, 2016) and nominees Sanjay’s Super Team (2015) and Lou (2017). Partysaurus Rex is hands down my favorite of the bunch. I had actually never seen it because it was part of the theatrical release of Finding Nemo 3D (2012) and I didn’t see that. Anything Toy Story is great and Partysaurus Rex is great. Each short comes with filmmaker intro and commentary and there is also 2 Mini-Movies – Marine Life Interviews & Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool included. If you love Pixar films, you need this in your collection.
Next we have Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings which is part of a franchise I’ve never seen or heard of. It’s the latest Asian fantasy film to come my way and I honestly have no idea what happened in the film. But that’s fine, it’s colorful, full of action, beautiful costumes and lots of fighting. Even though I genuinely have no idea what happens, what the lore is about or who the characters are, I had fun watching it overall. There is a giant white gorilla at the end, a dragon comes to life, magic, a legendary mace, and so much more. If you are familiar with the franchise I’m sure you’ll love this. If you like Asian fantasy films you’ll like it as well.
I’ll get into some TV now. Hidden Series 1 is an 8 episode police procedural out of Wales. It reminded me of Broadchurch and Keeping Faith. A body is found and it’s that of a missing girl from 2011. Her father is told and the story snowballs from there. Past cases might be connected. Another girl goes missing. A man in prison for a previous murder might be innocent. The lead detective’s father was part of the investigation into that man and so on. Overall the show worked but I do think the father of the dead girl and drug dealer ex storyline wasn’t necessary by the end. You’d have the lead investigation, the student going missing and the past case, you didn’t need the dad and his other daughter storyline that much. I binged it over 3 days and it’s a pretty solid show. I thought it felt like other similar shows but I also watch a lot of cop/crime dramas in the first place.
Detectorists: The Complete Collection is also out this week. I have a soft spot for this quirky show. On paper it shouldn’t have worked. It was a show about metal detectorists. Yeah, guys who went out looking for treasure and artifacts with metal detectors. But it’s also about relationships and friendships and is super dry witted. I’ve always enjoyed Toby Jones and the rest of the cast is also very good. The show utilizes Jones perfectly and he has really great chemistry with Mackenzie Crook. They have a great dynamic that sets the tone of the show. The show won a BAFTA for Best Sitcom and it’s just so odd and ridiculous it worked brilliantly. When they find Roman coins and battle other detectorists and everything else the show just makes you laugh. It only ran for a few seasons but this new Complete Collection is fun and has a metal detector on the front. If you are a fan of the show, this new release is highly recommended.
Narcos Season 3 is also out this week. The Netflix series chronicled the life of Pablo Escobar but Season 3 saw the DEA trying to stop the expansion into California after the fall of Escobar. An insider with the Cartel joins forces with the DEA to try to stop them once and for all. It’s a well made and extremely well acted show and Pedro Pascal is quite good. I like the show but for some reason I don’t love it. As previously stated, I watch a lot of crime dramas and have seen a lot of movies, TV shows and documentaries on drug smuggling so maybe the story itself felt too familiar. The production value, the locations, the acting is all very good so it must be the familiar story that made this not must see for me. I’ve seen every episode but never went out of my way to binge it unless I had to review it. But it has a lot of fans so if you haven’t seen season 3 yet, it’s out this week.
One last TV show to talk about, Elementary The Sixth Season. This take on Sherlock Holmes was never a personal favorite of mine, but it’s an easy enough binge to get through. The Benedict Cumberbatch version is way better but this was a decent enough hit on CBS. This season saw Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock dealing with post concussion issues, his sobriety and not having all his wits. It relied heavily on Lucy Liu’s Watson and others but still feels like previous seasons overall. Not a big fan of the show, but I know it has some fans so if you are one, pick it up.
Second to last we have Gas Food Lodging. I wasn’t familiar with this 1992 film starring Ione Skye, Fairuza Balk, Brooke Adams, Robert Knepper and James Brolin. Skye and Balk play sisters with Skye being the wild child who gets pregnant and sent to another town. Balk is younger and trying to find herself in small town New Mexico. I’m not a big fan of coming of age movies and this didn’t do much for me but Balk is very good. It was also weird seeing a younger Bob Knepper. Even though the film isn’t my sort of thing, it seems to have good following and this Blu-ray release comes with a documentary and other featurettes.
Finally we have The Third Murder, a very good crime/court room drama out of Japan. It opens with a man being beaten over the head with a wrench and set on fire. Another man admits to doing it. He has a criminal past, but starts changing his story when he talks to his defense team. The best part of the film, besides the acting, is that you never quite know the whole story. Was he paid off by the dead man’s wife? Was he having an affair? Was the dead man’s daughter telling the truth about abuse? It’s smart and even though it’s a slow burn, it never loses your attention. The lead lawyer and defendant are fantastic and I can honestly see it being remade by Hollywood and being a hit. I genuinely liked the flick.