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Featured DVD / Blu-ray Review: Stallone: 3-Film Collector's Set

August 12th, 2012

Stallone: 3-Film Collector's Set - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

When The Expendables came out in 2010, Lionsgate released a flood of Blu-ray double-shots featuring the cast of the film. This time around, they are releasing a Stallone Triple-Shot on Blu-ray. I have seen two of the three movies, but wanted to see what they looked like in high definition. Unfortunately, they sent me the DVD. Is it still worth checking out?

First Blood

The film begins with John Rambo looking for a friend, a fellow member of his former Army Special Forces unit. He finds his house in a small out of the way place, but learns he died the year before from cancer, as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. This hits Rambo hard and he just walks to the nearest town. When he gets there, the sheriff, Will Teasle, takes one look at him and decides he's an undesirable for the small town of Hope. He drives him to the edge of town and drops him off.

Instead of continuing to walk north, Rambo immediately turns arround to come back into town, to get something to eat, but is arrested by Will Teasle, for vagrancy. While being processed, he's abused by Art Galt (Jack Starrett), first verbally and then physically. During this, Rambo has a flashback to his time as a POW in Vietnam and he snaps, attacking the deputies and escaping into the woods outside of town.

Of course, Sheriff Teasle and his men follow, but when... Actually, that's a good place to stop, because we enter spoiler territory here.

I've always loved First Blood, because it is one of the most intelligent action films of the 1980s. The difference between this film and the other installments in the franchise is so vast that it is clear this movie wasn't made with the idea of creating a franchise. (In fact, in the original ending, Rambo dies.) If you don't have this film in your collection, it should be. If you've only seen the Rambo sequels, don't judge this film based on those. It has more in common with The Deer Hunter than the average 1980s action film. It's not quite as good as that film, but I'm going to make a bold suggestion and say that it is close.

The Extras

The film has an audio commentary track with Stallone himself, which is very entertaining. There is also a pop-up trivia track called Survival Mode, which has character bios, location information, etc. You can also watch these sections separately. Finally, there is a deleted scene, the original ending, and an outtake. That's not a lot of extras.

Cop Land

I reviewed this film here and there's not much that needs to be added. It even appears to be the exact same disc as before. (I have the DVD this time and not the Blu-ray, so I'm not 100% sure.)

Lock Up

Sylvester Stallone plays Frank Leone. We see him play football with some kids, spend time with his fiancée, Melissa (Darlanne Fluegel), but when the weekend is over, he has to go back to prison. He's not a guard, he's a prisoner, despite how well he is treated. He is such a model prisoner that the guards treat him like a friend and he has weekend furloughs. However, that changes one night when he's taken from his minimum security prison and transferred to a maximum security prison for the last few months of his sentence. The new prison, Gateway, is run by Warden Drumgoole and the two have a history.

Frank was severing a five-year term at Treadmore when Warden Drumgoole was in charge. With only a few weeks left on his term, he asked to leave to seeing a dying friend. When Drumgoole refused, Frank escaped to see his mentor, and to tell the media about the abuses going on in that prison. As a result, Frank was sent to Norwood, a minimum security prison, while Drumgoole was punished by being transferred to the worst prison in the system. Frank only has six months left in his sentence, but Drumgoole is determined to make it a hard time, and if possible, provoke him into doing something to extend his time.

This movie is essentially the same theme from First Blood, one man against a corrupt system, but set in prison. Also, it is much, much worse. It brings nothing new to the genre of Cruel Wardens genre, which is a genre that was played out in the 1970s. It lacks common sense in a number of ways. Warden Drumgoole managed to get Frank transferred to his prison, even though the two have a history. Really? Someone actually approved that? Hell, if I were in charge, I would think that was a bad idea, even if I didn't think Drumgoole would want revenge. Frank Leone escape from Drumgoole's prison before, I wouldn't want him to do that again. I'm not even going to get into how they managed to restore a Ford Mustang in a maximum security prison (getting parts must have been hell) or how Frank suddenly turned into Rambo in the end. It even lacks the realism of First Blood.

The Extras

Extras include a short making of featurette, but it is mostly promotional fluff, so is the the even shorter featurette on Sylvester Stallone. There's also an ad for a new cutting-edge format, DVD. That shows you how old this DVD is.

The Verdict

The Stallone: 3-Film Collector's Set has two movies that are worth owning and one that is not. The two that are worth owning have been released before on DVD and Blu-ray, and you can buy both of them for cheaper than the DVD or Blu-ray costs, so this is only worth it if you love all three movies and you don't own any of them. Odds are that is not true for most people.

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Filed under: Video Review, First Blood, Cop Land, Lock Up