Movie Review: First Blood
Sylvester Stallone had a one-two iconic punch in 1982 with Rocky III and the creation of a new hero, John Rambo, in First Blood.Â Rocky was 3rd in overall box office that year, and First Blood was 17th.Â Teaming up with producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna for the second time after the 1981 John HustonÂ soccer drama Victory, Stallone was setting himself up nicelyÂ for the rest of the decade.
First Blood is shockingly unlike the other Rambo movies, and you can forget that picture above.Â This isÂ pretty much aÂ simple B-movie adventure, withÂ only small amountsÂ of theÂ over-the-top actionÂ that would follow.
John Rambo (Stallone)Â has come toÂ the small town of Hope, Washington,Â years after hisÂ duty in Vietnam came to a close.Â He’s a former Green Beret looking for an old friend, only to find out that he died of cancer shortly after the war.Â Â So he goes into the small downtown area looking for something to eat,Â and he’s stopped by Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian “God Damn” Dennehy), who quickly tells Rambo that’s he’s not wanted in this town.Â So Teasle drives him over the bridge and that’s that.
Only, that’s not that.Â Rambo refuses to just beÂ left outside of a town, one of the many he fought for in Vietnam.Â It’s timeÂ the town of Hope showed some damn respect.Â Â Before Teasle can even get far down the road, he has to turn around and arrest Rambo for refusing to mosey.Â He takes him to the jail, where Rambo becomes a royal pain,Â gets Vietnam flashbacks,Â and eventuallyÂ beats up a bunch of cops (including a very young David Caruso, which instantly endears you to Rambo’s character)Â to escape.
Soon, the chase is on in the woods, where the best action of the picture takes place.Â Â One of the cops dies, and Rambo is blamed.Â Enter Colonel Samuel Troutman (Richard Crenna), who tells Teasle that he’s very lucky that Rambo didn’t just kill everybody on the force and that he should give up.Â But Teasle is not one of those kinds of sheriffs to just give up on a cop-killer.
What follows is a bit strange.Â You think Rambo just wants to get away, especially after the misunderstanding with the dead cop, but then he starts plottingÂ all sorts of destructionÂ on the town of Hope, looking for…I guess revenge.Â Despite his strict David Caruso-beating policy, he’s not all that likable after that.Â He’s not really fighting for a noble cause; I mean, seriously, this whole vendetta is about Teasle being an asshole when it all comes down to it.Â As far as I can tell, Teasle isn’t a dirty cop shaking down brothels for a free lay, he’s just a monumental jerk.Â So it’s hard to justify Rambo’s actions after he basically escapes.
This would be corrected in the next chapter, of course.Â It’s easy to see why the stories becameÂ Rambo versus the Russians later on.Â First Blood is a decent stand-alone man-versus-men action flick, and probably better if you can just forget that this has anything to do with the series whatsoever.
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