First Blood (1982)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 79%
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Ranked #507
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Connections: Rambo

John Rambo is a disoriented Vietnam Vet. He is hitchhiking from town to town to see friends from the war. A sheriff tries to make him leave town and when he refuses, arrests him for vagrancy. While in jail, a deputy takes delight in abusing him. Rambo escapes showing his old Vietnam fighting skills and takes to the woods as the sheriff and deputies try and find him in his element. Things get out of hand as Colonel Trautman, Rambo's old commander, appears to shed light on the situation. --IMDb
Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone
Richard Crenna
Richard Crenna
Brian Dennehy
Brian Dennehy
Bill McKinney
Bill McKinney
Jack Starrett
Jack Starrett
Review by Chad
Added: August 23, 2007
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be the man most commonly associated with the larger-than-life action flicks of the eighties, but Sylvester Stallone certainly had his share of them as well; in fact, that iconic image of John Rambo holding a huge machine gun has got to be one of the images that is most synonymous with the entire genre. Of course, there's also that little Rocky series that he made famous, and with a slew of other action films under his belt, there's no denying that he ranks up there with some of the best action stars of not just the eighties, but of all time. Tonight, we have what is arguably the character that most people will remember when Stallone's name is mentioned: the chiseled Vietnam vet who always waits for his opponent to draw first blood.

Of course, our storyline centers around Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a Vietnam vet who has lost all of his friends and family after returning home from the war. He's now a bit of a drifter, walking from town to town with no clear goal in mind, but a goal will soon arise when he wanders into one small town for a bite to eat. You see, before he can even find a diner to satisfy his appetite, he encounters Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), a man who doesn't take too kindly to "his kind" wandering into town with his long hair and the American flag emblazoned on his coat. Will attempts to run him out of town, but being the stubborn man that he is, Rambo decides to stick around.

Will and the rest of the police force don't exactly appreciate this, so they arrest him on charges of vagrancy and proceed to abuse and humiliate him beyond the letter of the law. When Rambo has finally had enough of this, he snaps, breaks a few bones, and escapes the police headquarters. John runs into the nearby forest, but after he and his fellow officers have been made to look like idiots, Will starts to carry a personal grudge against this man and gathers every able-bodied man to help track down this Vietnam vagrant. He even gets a little help from one of Rambo's former friends in Col. Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna), a man who may or may not have ulterior motives for being in this town. What follows is one of the bright spots of the eighties action flicks as Rambo eludes escape, sets an assortment of traps for his pursuers, and yes, eventually gains a measure of revenge against the town that tried to keep him out.

What may come as a surprise to those of you who haven't seen the first film in the series or only have vague memories of the entries found within is the fact that this one is actually pretty tame in terms of the violence and kills - in fact, Rambo is only responsible for one confirmed death throughout the entire film, and even that was inadvertent. Yes, this is a far cry from the similar action films in which the enemy lives are a dime a dozen and the guns have infinite ammo, and this little fact is just one of the many things that makes First Blood a step above the rest.

As an added bonus, the performances from the main characters are excellent. Sylvester Stallone is best when he plays a character of few words who lets his actions speak for him, and - save for the final scene - that's exactly the type of role that he has here. After watching him here, there's no doubt that he deserved to be one of the most well-known action stars of the eighties. What's surprising though is that final scene where he does get a chance to truly act as he breaks down and lets his colonel know exactly how he feels after returning to civilian life. Stallone isn't exactly known for being a "serious" actor, but he certainly did a damned convincing job with this scene. Brian Dennehy is also great as the antagonist of the film, as he plays the corrupt cop role to perfection and truly makes us root for the hero that much more. As I've said time and time again, it takes a great villain for a hero to truly shine, and that's exactly what we got here: a man that audiences love to hate and pay to see get his comeuppance.

Plus, who didn't love that damned survival knife? Every child of the eighties either had one or wanted one, and watching Rambo use it as everything from a medical center to a torch made me remember why that was the case. There are a lot of films which are regarded as classics that personally, I just don't see the big deal about. First Blood is not one of those films, as I feel that it deserves every bit of credit that it receives. A true staple of the action genre, and a perfect film. 10/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added 08/23/2007, 11:49 PM
"You're gonna need a good supply of body bags"
"It's over Johnny"
There are so many quotable lines, and horribly acted moments in this movie. It's fantastic. And Brian Dennehy is just amazing in this. Truly a fantastic action movie. Ranks up there with Predator. 10/10
Kezia Vadimas #2: Kezia Vadimas - added 07/13/2008, 09:15 AM
I culd watch Rambo sew himself up a billion times and never bore of it. The story was great, the acting was alright, the cameraman had problems in the beginning, but overall I loved it. 10/10

"Look John, we can't have you running around out there killing friendly civilians."
"There are no friendly civilians!"
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 06/01/2010, 03:07 PM
Sylvester Stallone was a beast in this movie. 10/10
Rest Easy Soul #4: Rest Easy Soul - added 07/24/2010, 10:29 PM
One of my all time favorites and the reason why Sly is my favorite action star.
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