Well I must admit I had to have this, cos let's face it, it's Rambo. I'm a huge fan of the original trilogy and was a huge fan of Stallone's recent revival of the character in 'John Rambo' which i thought was a raw and gritty supercharged action film yet with depth of character and story that easily surpassed any of it's disposable contemporaries. Make no bones about it; "the expendables" sticker on the front the "expendables" trailer; the trailers of films from all of the actors in the "expendables" - this is a pure money making and marketing combo to tie in with the release of Sly's latest actioner. BUT, I have to say, what whilst expecting nothing more than the all new "Rambo - to hell and back" production diaries special feature, and maybe a couple of extended scenes in the movie, I was actually really surprised at just how different this new cut of the film is.
This is not just the theatrical cut with a couple of extra bits, this is a true director's cut style extended edition with a completely re-edited opening, many extended takes, many alternate takes, and whole new extra scenes that all blend seemlessly to really compliment and add much to the film. A lot of this really helps to elaborate the story, and really flesh out character and themes that whilst hinted at in the original, were never really fully explored. When Rambo says in the original "no, what you're trying to do is change what is", and Sara asks him "and what is?"; he just says "go home". I always used to wonder, "yeah, what is??". Well, a whole knew alternate take here reveals all, and also a few real home truths about his real feelings about war and regret. And that's not all, you find out so much more about the characters, their relationships, motivation, and so many tiny insertions of lines here and there, very subtle shot changes, alternate dialog, black and white flashbacks, that it's almost an entirely new take on the film. It's all great stuff!
A word of warning tho, there do appear to be a few cuts and alterations to some of the more violent and extreme/controversial scences. Some of these bits are alternate takes (when the main bad guy leader takes delivery of the young village boy for example), but others are just plain removed, or cut short. The child being stabbed in the attack on the village is missing, the guy flying though the air with both legs blown off is cut short, the bearded mercenary stabbing the solider under the hut is removed, and a few other bits that seemed slightly shortened. I should add that these alterations are VERY few, I probably counted 5 or 6, and doubt that this was a censorship issue as the majority of the blood soaked limb exploding violence is completely intact. I'd imagine this was purely a directorial/artistic decision, (a lot of the excised scenes were digital effects, some of which don't stand up quite as effectively as others). Something to bear in mind though before you buy!
The stunning MPEG 4 AVC encoded 1080p picture and 7.1 dts hd master audio remain, giving an blu-ray experience of reference quality, just like the original lionsgate release. People may hesitate to buy this, thinking that they're not really getting much for their money, but trust me this is FAR from a lazy release to steal your money, this is a superb director's cut edition that totally delivers. Also, for any foreign buyers, the blu ray is officially ABC encoded, so it will play on any blu ray player. Enjoy an all new Rambo!