Like most actor-themed boxed sets, Miramax's new Stallone Collection rounds up a few studio owned scraps and presents them as a discounted package deal. This time around, we're treated to one classic action film (First Blood, the first and best of the Rambo franchise), one enjoyable slice of 1980s cheese (Lock Up) and one underrated gem (the director's cut of Cop Land). As the links imply, all three have debuted on Blu-Ray already...so if you're a die-hard fan of Sly, chances are you own at least one of 'em already. For the less rabid, your decision to purchase the Stallone Collection shouldn't be very difficult: it's a well-rounded set at a fair price, and that's really all you need from a collection like this.
First Blood (1982) is the best of these three and, in most circles, the most enduring Stallone film that isn't Rocky. Our hero stars as John Rambo, a stoic Vietnam vet who wanders into the wrong town and clashes with a number of prejudiced police officers (and eventually, the armed forces). Compared to the next three installments in the Rambo franchise, First Blood relies much more on psychology than explicit violence, resulting in a tense game of cat-and-mouse that remains supremely effective and entertaining three decades later. Much like the Rocky saga, later sequels grew exponentially cartoonish but came full-circle in recent years, proving that some floundering franchises can end on a high note. Rambo obviously started on one, but you knew that already. Film rating for First Blood: ★★★★1/2 / ★★★★★.
Lock Up (1989) often gets overlooked within Stallone's filmography, and usually for good reason. This definitely isn't top-tier filmmaking...but if you're in the right mood, it's not a bad way to kill two hours. Stallone stars as Frank Leone, another troubled man who's battling authority figures: Leone's prison sentence is almost up, but a vengeful warden (Donald Sutherland) decides to make his remaining days a living hell. Through critical eyes, neither Leone's plight nor the warden's behavior are believable or even original. As a slight variation on the typical Stallone formula of "bullied man fights back", though, Lock Up remains a predictable but entertaining endeavor. Film rating for Lock Up: ★★★ / ★★★★★.
Cop Land (1997) also often gets overlooked within Stallone's filmography, but not for good reason. His performance as Freddy Heflin earned Stallone plenty of critical acclaim, even amongst an all-star cast including Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert Patrick and more. Not surprisingly, the formula is essentially the same here: Heflin is a browbeaten man---albeit a doughy, past-his-prime cop this time around---who, once again, stands virtually alone against authority. The well-rounded cast does manage to hide some of Cop Land's weaker elements...but this director's cut (which debuted on DVD back in 2004) improves upon the "original" version, especially the ending. If you only saw Cop Land in theaters and it didn't win you over, give it another chance. Film rating for Cop Land: ★★★★ / ★★★★★.
Quality Control Department
Video & Audio Quality
Unsurprisingly, Miramax's Stallone Collection is completely identical to all three separate Blu-Ray releases, for better or worse. Individual tech specs and A/V ratings are organized below for easy reference:
|First Blood||1080p | 2.35:1|
★★★★ / ★★★★★
|DTS-HD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX|
★★★★ / ★★★★★
|Lock Up||1080p | 1.85:1|
★★★★ / ★★★★★
|DTS-HD MA 5.1, DTS-HD MA 2.0|
(English, German, French, Spanish)
★★★ / ★★★★★
|English (SDH), Spanish,|
French, German, Dutch
|Cop Land||1080p | 1.78:1|
★★★1/2 / ★★★★★
|DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio|
★★★★1/2 / ★★★★★
|English, English (SDH),|
Additional A/V Comments: As specified in the individual reviews linked above, we're treated to an impressive level of quality from top to bottom...with two minor exceptions. First Blood looks and sounds great from start to finish, especially considering the film's age and source material. Cop Land displays sporadic amounts of edge enhancement but sounds fantastic. The opposite is true of Lock Up, which looks better than expected but is less effective on a sonic level. We may get more impressive versions of certain titles in the future (First Blood, probably), but there's very little to complain about here.
NOTE: This review's screen caps were taken from promotional sources and do not represent Blu-Ray's native resolution.
Menu Design, Presentation & Packaging
Again, these are the same discs as before...and for the most part, the menus are clean, concise and easy to navigate (unlike the bulk of Lionsgate releases...ugh). No obvious layer changes were detected during playback and, oddly enough, only First Blood
appears to be unlocked for region-free playback.
This three-disc collection is housed in a standard-width hinged keepcase (seen above); no inserts or slipcovers are included, but general content descriptions have been printed on the back cover.
These 480p extras have been ported over from the earlier Blu-Ray/DVD releases, so you've probably seen them already. First Blood
includes two Audio Commentaries
with Stallone and writer David Morrell, a short Retrospective Featurette
, three Deleted Scenes / Outtakes
and a skippable Pop-Up Trivia
track. Lock Up
recycles a trio of general Production Featurettes
, five short Cast Interviews
and the original Theatrical Trailer
. Cop Land
treats viewers to an entertaining Cast/Crew Audio Commentary
, a short but insightful Production Featurette
, a brief Storyboard Comparison
and two Deleted Scenes
. It's nice that everything from past releases has been preserved, but these extras are starting to show their age.
Actor-themed boxed sets aren't always an easy recommendation, but Miramax's Stallone Collection is a good, inexpensive way to fill out your growing Blu-Ray library. Featuring two great movies and one...well, watchable one, this collection's only drawback is that the bulk of its target market probably owns part of it already. Factor in the solid overall A/V quality, well-rounded extras, practical packaging and low retail price, and you've got an exceptional "bang for your buck" collection that action fans will really enjoy. Firmly Recommended overall...unless you own one or more of these titles already, of course.
Randy Miller III is an affable office monkey based in Harrisburg, PA. He also does freelance graphic design projects, teaches art classes at a local gallery and runs a website or two. He also enjoys slacking off, juggling HD-DVDs and writing stuff in third person.