First Blood (1982)
A personal favorite and the best Rambo of the bunch.
First Blood is about former Green Beret John Rambo returning to the U.S. of A. after serving his tour of duty over in Vietnam. So he’s minding his own business, hitching across the country to visit his old war buddies, when one day he comes across this small town sheriff who starts pushing him for no reason at all. The said sheriff then makes the mistake of trying to put Rambo in jail for disturbing the peace, so Rambo runs into the forest and starts kicking ass in a potato sack all because no one will listen to him.
So, kids, next time you see a war veteran walking down the street, do the right thing and don’t act like a dick. Never a good idea to provoke war vets.
Probably the first point worth noting about First Blood is that it’s not really a Rambo movie, not in the title, not in the meaning, and not in the plot. Well, the characters are always the same, and there’s guns, but that’s about it. This is First Blood, not Rambo: First Blood. Every movie after this consisted of G. I. Johnny getting sent in to some war-torn country, getting captured by the enemy, escaping, grabbing a machine gun with infinite ammo, and then proceeding to kill everyone in sight. While this is awesome in its own right, this does not happen in First Blood, and that’s exactly why I dig this movie.
Even though Rambo messes up guys pretty bad here, people forget that he actually doesn’t kill a single one of them – well, except for one guy that falls out of a helicopter after Rambo throws a rock at it, but we’ll plead self defense on that one and let it slide. Don’t get me wrong, this is an action movie – one of the all-time great action movies at that – but the selling point here is really the movie’s message more than anything else.
The script was ahead of its time in dealing with issues like P.T.S.D. and understanding/misunderstanding what it must be like to try and return to a normal life at home when all you know is war, especially when everyone around you has no idea. Sylvester Stallone actually gives a really awesome speech at the end about this that brings everything full circle and keeps it from being another shoot-em-upper; shit is no joke. His outrageous accent doesn’t really help much, but still, might be some of the best acting of his career.
But Stallone’s acting aside, this is John Rambo we’re talking about here, the ultimate one-man-army that started a revolution of badass action heroes. He doesn’t talk a whole lot and doesn’t have the most magnetic personality, but throw him in the woods with his trusty knife and bandanna and he is good to go. The dude sews up his own wounds after cauterizing them with gun powder. Come on, it doesn’t get much more hardcore than that.
Brian Dennehy is also good as the ignorant sheriff, but this is Stallone’s show and everyone knows it.
Only complaint is that some of the traps Rambo sets up in the woods are outrageously complex and in no way could be whipped up in an hour. But I’ll own up and admit that as one stupid-ass complaint, just being annoyingly nit picky.
If you’ve never seen First Blood, don’t just write it off as mindless drivel. There aren’t too many action movies with as much heart as this and I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how true this sentiment is by the time the end credits roll around. Rambo was awesome, but like I said, it’s no First Blood.
Along with Snake Plissken, John Rambo was also one of the main inspirations for Big Boss in the Metal Gear Solid games, and if that doesn’t sell it for you fellow nerds out there, then I don’t know what will.