Genres: Drama, Action,

Rated: R

Country: USA

Year: 1982

Runtime: 94 minutes

Studio: Anabasis N.V.


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Review done by:  Nightmare Child
Online since: February 20th, 2006
Hosted by:  Yahoo!
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Bill McKinney,
Jack Starrett, Alf Humphries, David Caruso, David Crowley, Don Mackay

Director: Ted Kotcheff

Synopsis: A mentally unstable Vietnam war vet, when abused with a small
town's police force, begins a one man war with it.


When you hear the name "Rambo," what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Guns? War? The 80's? All that may be true, but if you skim back just a tiny bit,
you'll know that's not how Rambo started off. In 1972, author David Morrell
released a book titled First Blood. The book was about the journey of Rambo.
Rambo is a Vietnam War veteran who becomes the focus of a manhunt that
results in the deaths of many police officers and National Guardsmen. The
theme of the book is one that condemns the war in Vietnam and asserts that it
had many adverse effects on soldiers who served during the war; "Shellshock"
if you will. In 1982, the First Blood movie was released, with Sylvester Stallone
as the main protagonist, now fully named John Rambo. The film has the same
basic premise of the book, but is altered in many areas. In the movie we follow
the Vietnam Veteran who returns home looking for a friend, only to find out
that he has passed on. Rambo later arrives in a small town as a drifter, where
he is arrested by the abusive local Sheriff for refusing to leave. While under
arrest Rambo is treated poorly which brings back painful memories of being a
POW where he was tortured and abused on a daily bases.

When things at the police station go too far, Rambo beats down the police and
escapes the station. Rambo is then pursued by the Sheriff and the local police
into the woods. Out in the cold landscape, Rambo uses his combat and survival
training to hold his own and defend himself from the corrupt authorities. First
off, the character of John Rambo is very interesting. He's not your everyday
action hero. In fact, he's not a hero nor an anti-hero. He's just a troubled
veteran who ends up being harassed by the police. John Rambo is the
embodiment of the special forces. Trained to do anything and survive
anywhere. As the film passes we get to see bits of Rambo's past through a
series of quick flash backs. Most of them have to do with him being tortured as
a prisoner of war. From the moment we see him getting harassed by the cops,
we know dead on that he's a troubled human being. This is common amongst
war veterans. The sights of battle could be hazardous to the mind, and some
times it could haunt you.

First Blood is an entertaining manhunt style film which introduces us to the
character we've grown to love over the years. Eventually we see him going to
war and rescuing POWs; Not in this film. The only sequences of war that we
actually do see come from John's nightmarish 'Nam flashbacks. In First Blood
Rambo is harassed by a police officer, and ends up going against the entire
force. The first hour of the movie is still untouched today. It's not about the
body count or the bloodshed, it's all about suspense. On the hunt for Rambo,
the police force learn that he's a top ranked soldier and an American hero. We
continue to follow the police force into the woods, even as they deplete one by
one. John Rambo cleverly uses his combat knowledge to set up traps and get
back at the cops. In a smart fashion, Rambo doesn't kill any of the men, but
uses his skills to just prove a point. The story is rich and the script itself is just
fantastic. I'll admit that I've never read the book before, which is unusual
because I normally check out the novels before the films.

I can't tell you about all the differences between the book and the film, but I've
heard that it's pretty different. The film is great, but I'm sure the book is better
because that's how it usually is. The ending of the film is spectacular. Stallone
gives us his best emotional performance here. It's not every day that you get
to see a tough character break down like this. It's very moving and you can't
help but feel bad for the guy. The ending of the film might be the biggest
change from the novel. I'm sure you've seen this film already so this wont be
much of a spoiler. At the end of the First Blood novel, John Rambo commits
suicide. For the film, they did shoot a scene where he dies at the end. The final
dialog in the film is depressing enough, so I can see why they would make that
change. Stallone thought that changing the ending would fit better because
they don't want any real war vets to watch this and think that suicide is the
only option. Then again, the suicide ending would have made more of an
impact. Either way, it's a good film and one that you should definitely check out.

Since the ending of the First Blood movie was different from the book, we got
to see more of John Rambo with a few sequels that shift in its titles. After First
Blood comes Rambo: First Blood II, then Rambo III and then for some reason,
just Rambo. The "First Blood" title gets dropped eventually, but I still consider
this as the First Blood series. Other countries still release these movies under
the First Blood title, so I'll just stick with that. Sadly, the sequels aren't as
good as the original, unless you count the fourth film. That one is definitely the
second best in my opinion. If you've got money to spare, I recommend picking
up the First Blood trilogy on DVD as well as the First Blood novel. The film
version may be different, but it's definitely a staple in the action genre. First
Blood is ground breaking in every sense of the word. It's one of the greatest
action movies ever made. It's a gripping survival adventure with an emotional
ending that's downright moving. To top it all off, it's very entertaining. First
Blood will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final frame.

Overall: 8/10
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