Rambo III – 4K UHD Review

Rambo III is a 1988 American action adventure film that was directed by Peter MacDonald. The film depicts fictional events during the Soviet-Afghan War. It is the third film in the Rambo film franchise, following First Blood and Rambo: First Blood Part II. It was in turn followed by Rambo in 2008, making it the last film in the series to feature Richard Crenna as Colonel Sam Trautman before his death in 2003.

In the film, John Rambo sets out on a dangerous journey to Afghanistan in order to rescue his former military commander and his longtime best friend Col. Trautman from the hands of an extremely powerful and ruthless Soviet military general who is bent on killing both Trautman and Rambo, and to conquer Afghanistan for the Soviet armies.

Sixty-five seconds of the film were cut in the United Kingdom version for theatrical release. Some later video releases almost tripled the cuts. Rambo III was released nationwide on May 25, 1988, and grossed $189 million against a production budget of between $58 and $63 million.

The Film Itself (3/5):

Rambo III may have been the moment where the infamous titular character would be considered to be past his prime.  Continually finding himself in the middle of a disaster area, this movie is loaded with more fear and danger, and really makes you wonder what they were thinking when they opted to continue the series.  Was it because the last two movies did pretty well at the box office that they wanted to try their hand at a quick cash grab?  Either way, Rambo III is a movie that you can sit down and enjoy yet another care free experience and not be too upset if you missed something.

Picture Quality (5/5):

The 4K UHD release of Rambo III offers a considerably better visual presentation than its previously released counterparts.  With its 4K native transfer, there has been some obvious tender love and care taken with the restoration of the film.  The quality of the details and overall sharpness of the image have seen a significant jump with the colorization being much more improved, making the overall presentation look like it has never before.  The black levels are most impressive with this release as they feel more natural and help to create a better picture with impressive saturation levels.  Facial details are very strong in this release, as the various marks of stubble, wrinkles, and seat beads stand out more than they ever have with this movie.

Audio Quality (4.5/5):

Packaged with an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, the 4K UHD release of Rambo III offers nothing more than the previously released Blu-ray copies.  While it’s a shock to see that this didn’t get the Atmos or DTS:X treatment, the overall quality of the audio seemed to rip right through my home theater system.  With its lower frequencies really pushing the limits of my house’s foundation, the flows from channel to channel were effortless and helped with the overall immersion factor despite the lack of use of the surround or elevation channels.  The dialogue is spoken cleanly, and everybody was able to be heard and understood without the need to adjust the volume levels as it progressed.

The Packaging (4/5):

The 4K UHD release of Rambo III comes packaged in your standard two-disc 4K UHD amaray case.  Within that case is the standard 4K copy of the movie as well as the standard Blu-ray.  Both discs do feature the same piece of artwork between the two, featuring Sylvester Stallone’s pose from the cover art.  There is also a digital copy redemption pamphlet that’s been included for the various streaming platforms as well as a slipcover that’s been made available during the original pressing of the release that includes the same artwork that’s been included on the case.


Special Features (4.5/5):

There are a ton of special features that have been included with this release of Rambo III.  While the UHD only includes the lone optional audio commentary, all available content has been really made available on the included Blu-ray disc.  There’s a variety of content that’s been included that not only includes a look at some of the work that went into making the movie, but some also offers a small expansion upon the storyline.  Included with this release is:

  • 4K UHD
    • Feature Audio Commentary With Director Peter MacDonald
  • Blu-ray
    • Rambo Takes The ’80s, Part 3
    • Full Circle
    • A Hero’s Journey
    • Rambo’s Survival Hardware
    • Alternate Beginning
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Interview With Sylvester Stallone
    • Afghanistan: A Land In Crisis
    • Guts And Glory
    • Behind The Scenes
    • Trautman & Rambo
    • How To Become Rambo, Part 3
    • Selling A Hero (Easter Egg)

Technical Specs:


Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)


Aspect Ratio:

Original Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1


English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1


English SDH


Original Film: 102 Minutes

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I was genuinely pleased with this release of Rambo III.  While it has been quite a long time since I’d last watched this movie, I can certainly say that I was moreso impressed with the attention to detail that was given to the visual restoration of this release.  I do wish that they had not only opted to include the original audio track with this release, but that there was some attention to detail given with the remastered track to help separate the audible experience from its previously released counterparts.  There’s quite a few special features that have been included and spread out across both discs that’ll let you explore this release and film quite a bit.  If you’re considering grabbing this release for your collection, I can definitely recommend it if you either don’t have it yet or are upgrading your DVD copy.  Hell, even if you already have the Blu-ray copy, the price is more than reasonable to justify the upgrade, especially with the visual enhancements that are offered with this upgrade.  First Blood will be available on 4K UHD beginning on Tuesday, November 13.

Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.