Lionsgate brings the final chapter of the John Rambo saga to 4K UHD and Blu-ray
Note: this review contains screen captures taken from the Blu-ray version of the film. These shots are not intended to demonstrate the 4K image.
37 years after First Blood, The John Rambo saga which began in 1982 gets its final chapter. The franchise has seemed to make its natural exit more than once before, but this time the writing is literally on the wall with the denotatively questionable but very conclusive title Last Blood.
Having finally returned to his family’s Arizona homestead at the end of Rambo (Rambo IV), America’s favorite one-man army and PTSD sufferer has settled back into a peaceful life, tending his ranch and acting as a surrogate father to teenage Gabriella, the granddaughter of an old friend who helps as a caretaker.
When Gabriella visits Mexico and gets kidnapped by a powerful sex trafficking organization, Rambo once again unleashes the animal inside to exact violence on the guilty.
You can almost see the wheels turning if you reverse-engineer this structure. John Rambo’s back home. We’re not in the wartorn jungle anymore but to make this movie happen we need to kill a lot of bad guys. Who’s expendable? Sex traffickers!
But I think that such a reductive analysis of the film misses the point: John Rambo has had a great run, but the latter sequels, while great, feature a Rambo who becomes increasingly detached. The previous confrontation in Burma ended with Sly returning home; for this last chapter, echoing the first, Rambo is back on US soil, fighting at home — this time, quite literally — and for family. The film’s structure is in service to this concept.
Unfortunately this setup also includes the old, conventional, and increasingly ugly trope of violently [kidnapping/killing/torturing/raping] a female character to provide a male character with motivation or agency.
It doesn’t help that other recent films like Blood Father and You Were Never Really Here, among others, have tackled similar themes with greater success. It’s not until the final act that Last Blood truly comes into its own.
To that end, the film does deliver on solid action and revenge beats, and the finale — a subterranean deathtrap elaborately set up by Rambo to pick off the army of bad guys — promises on the expected action and visceral kills that the franchise has come to represent.
Last Blood ultimately isn’t the incredible sendoff that fans hoped for, but as a representation of the aging franchise, it’s a serviceable entry that sits in the middle of the series.
Rambo: Last Blood is available now on home video formats including 4K UHD Blu-ray which is the subject of this review. The package includes Blu-ray and digital copies. Both the 4K and Blu-ray discs include the full set of special features — something Lionsgate gets right that most studios don’t.
My copy included a slipcover which features a combination of metallic, matte finish, and spot gloss accents. It’s quite nice, if you can get past the very… sweaty looking artwork.
A standard Blu-ray edition and Best Buy exclusive 4K Steelbook are also available.
Despite the franchise’s 80s origins, Last Blood is a very slick, crisp, modern looking digital production. The Blu-ray image (shown in screenshots) is already quite impressively detailed, and the 4K disc seems to display this accurately and in proportionately great fidelity.
Special Features and Extras
- “Drawing Last Blood: Multipart Production Diary” (50:20)
Like most of Sly’s bigger films, this one has a substantial and lengthy Making Of documentary. Not merely interviews, but a detailed look at how the film being made with both live dialogue and added commentary from cast and crew.
One of the notable things that Sly comments on directly is that he’s responding to the real-world tragedy of sex trafficking — perhaps in response to criticisms of the film’s violence and perceived anti-Mexican attitude.
- “From First Note to Last Blood: Music for the Massacres” (17:22)
I guess they couldn’t decide which pun to use in the title so they coloned both in. Brian Tyler (who also scored the prior sequel Rambo) chats about the score, getting into his love for the original Jerry Goldsmith music and working in that context of honoring the old while also delivering something new. It’s actually a fairly technical exploration as he plays and provides direct compositional commentary on several pieces.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:09)
- Promotional Trailers (Blu-ray only) — ads for Lionsgate movies Escape Plan: The Extractors (2:37), Angel Has Fallen (2:30), John Wick 3: Parabellum (2:29), Three From Hell (1:47), and Semper Fi (2:06).
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All 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the Blu-ray disc (not 4K) with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.