First Blood may come as a shock to people who know Rambo’s hyper violent reputation. John Rambo is the second most iconic character Sylvester Stallone has ever played (after Rocky of course). First Blood was actually released the same year as Rocky III. As the paragon of guerrilla warfare himself, there was no way to avoid hearing about Rambo growing up. Yet Stallone’s most famous action role was something I never watched at a young age. First Blood was based on a 70’s novel and set the tone for 80’s action movies with muscular stars. Stallone was drawn to the project and ended up writing part of it himself.
First Blood was not at all what I was expecting. If you’re expecting a crazy bloodbath, First Blood is not that kind of action movie. It’s a lot darker and way more somber. His trademark headband isn’t even red yet. John Rambo is just a lonely Vietnam War veteran who drifts into Hope, Washington where there is no hope. All he finds is persistent harassment from corrupt small time police officers. Specifically Sheriff Teasle, who doesn’t like him because of his service. Their mistreatment of Rambo brings all his trauma flooding back. Igniting a war between Rambo and the police.
What’s really shocking is that First Blood has a body count of one. One officer is inadvertently killed. All Rambo does is set traps, fire warning shots, and brandish his knife. His former commanding officer Colonel Trautman is called in to assist as he’s the only man who knows what they’re up against. Rambo’s final gut wrenching war speech is some of Stallone’s best acting. Although Rambo was originally meant to die, it’s better that he lived to see another fight. First Blood is different, but there’s no doubt that it’s the smartest film in the series.
Followed by: Rambo: First Blood Part II