‘Creed II’ (4K UHD) and ‘Cobra: Collector’s Edition’ (Blu-ray) reviews
Here are a pair of films on 4K and Blu-ray that look at the evolving career of filmmaker Sylvester Stallone.
Creed II (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, 128 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $44.95) The Rocky film franchise continued last year with a tempting battle between Apollo Creed’s son and Ivan Drago’s son. The blockbuster now punches its way onto ultra-high definition home theater realms.
The tale of the tape finds a disgraced Victor Drago (Dolph Lundgren) who killed Apollo Creed in the ring and ultimately lost to Rocky) years later training his son Viktor (Florian Munteanu) for a fight that could redeem his status with Russia.
Michael B. Jordan shines again as Adonis Creed, and goose bumps will rise during the pair of scenes where Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) encounters Ivan especially in the champ’s restaurant Adrian’s.
Suffice it to report, Mr. Stallone’s Rocky has aged gracefully, now as wise as Yoda, and although unwilling to commit his prodigy to battle young Drago early on is equally unwilling to abandon him after Adonis takes a beating.
Loaded with heart, family, emotion and redemption, “Creed II” does the Rocky legacy proud.
The 4K truly highlights the impeccable fight choreography throughout. Viewers will feel every uppercut and body blow (as each droplet of sweat and blood flies from the opponents), especially when enhanced by that bass-thumping Dolby Atmos sound mix.
Best extras: Viewers get four featurettes roughly 35 minutes in total but no optional commentary track.
The longest featurette of the bunch is a quick overview of the Rocky franchise hosted by Mr. Lundgren. It includes interviews with the “Creed” stars: Mr. Stallone, announcer Michael Buffer and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard.
The remaining trio covers the woman of Creed II (Tessa Thompson as the wife of Adonis and Phylicia Rashad as mom Mary Anne Creed); the casting of Mr. Munteanu as Viktor Drago; and a look at the father/son relationship in the films, including an interview with a real father/son boxing team David Paul and fighter David Mijares.
Also worth a look, especially for nostalgic fans, is a deleted scene where Rocky eulogizes Spider Rico at his funeral. Viewers will fondly remember he faced the boxer in the first movie back in 1976.
Cobra: Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory, rated R, 87 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $23.99) A violent police thriller from 1986 returns to Blu-ray with a 2K digital facelift to revisit a critically lambasted film loved by audiences.
During Sylvester Stallone’s peak of popularity, he starred as tough guy Lt. Cobretti on the trail of the Night Slasher and his doomsday, serial-killing death cult in Los Angeles.
Consider our hero’s tagline “You’re the disease and I’m the cure” and that pretty much explains everything one needs to know about this graphically brutal effort from director George P. Cosmatos.
Mr. Stallone does his best Judge Dredd impression throughout, grumbling and killing nearly three dozen bad guys in the finale, before he actually did his best “Judge Dredd” impression for a 1995 film based on the comic book character a decade later.
Connoisseurs of film trivia will also appreciate the appearance of Brigitte Nielsen, who plays a super model hunted by the killers. Ms. Nielsen quickly became Mr. Stallones temporary wife (for 19 months) during the shoot.
The new 2K transfer, reportedly carefully restored from the archival interpositive, still has plenty of grain but offers some crisp detail such as admiring the scratches, barrel imprints and the cobra logo on Cobretti’s ivory-handled silver pistol as well as the law officer’s modified, muscled-up 1950 Mercury Monterey Coupe.
Best extras: As usual, Shout! Factory overwhelms with extras. In this case, fans will appreciate almost 90 minutes of new interviews with key cast members.
Of course, Mr. Stallone was not one of them, but they do include Marco Rodriguez (the crazed killer in the supermarket); Andrew Robinson (Detective Monte); Lee Garlington (female minion to the Night Slasher); and Art LaFleur (Captain Sears).
Best of the bunch is 26 minutes with the Night Slasher, Brian Thompson. He offers a candid overview of his casting and the production with details such as the cast often referring to the sometimes passive aggressive director as “George Comatose” for his understated reactions when Mr. Stallone was calling the shots on the set.
Next try and stay awake to a 1997 optional commentary track with Mr. Cosmatos who acts like a narrator for the blind as he acutely breaks down the visuals, offering comments such as “this is the sun coming up.” He also discusses locations and working with Mr. Stallone between occasional bouts of what sounds like he is nodding off.
Although the extras are bountiful, to truly be a collector’s edition of “Cobra,” the package needed to include the illusive director’s cut or work print cut that’s roughly 40 minutes longer and loaded with more graphic violence.