After iron man Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.
John J. Rambo is a former United States Special Forces soldier who fought in Vietnam and won the Congressional Medal of Honor, but his time in Vietnam still haunts him. As he came to Hope, Washington to visit a friend, he was guided out of town by the Sheriff William Teasel who insults Rambo, but what Teasel does not know that his insult angered Rambo to the point where Rambo became violent and was arrested. As he was at the county jail being cleaned, he escapes and goes on a rampage through the forest to try to escape from the sheriffs who want to kill him. Then, as Rambo's commanding officer, Colonel Samuel Trautman tries to save both the Sheriff's department and Rambo before the situation gets out of hand. Written by
A taut exercise in suspense that bears little relation to its silly sequels...
Surprise, a "Rambo" movie that tries to say something profound about the plight of its main character and his mental state. For the most part it succeeds. Not for this movie the ridiculously oiled pectorals of part II, where Rambo is transformed into a grunting, soul-less killing machine. He actually begins the movie as a fairly nice chap, someone we can sympathise with, and it's his unnecessarily rough treatment at the hands of small-town sheriff Dennehey and his crew that is likely to shift audience sympathies firmly in the direction of the 'misunderstood' Vietnam vet.
Here, Rambo is also a character who is reluctant to kill unless he absolutely has to. A far cry from the eventual homicidal maniac he was to become, who is seemingly responsible for more death than World Wars 1 & 2 combined. So, to those expecting bucketloads of gore and senseless killing, you'd probably be better off watching the news. "First Blood" is actually more akin to those 'survival in the wilderness' programs you might see on the Discovery Channel; with Rambo having to rely more on guile and cunning than brawn and an M-16 to get him out of tricky situations.
That's not to imply that this is boring. Far from it. Director Kotcheff shows a keen awareness of pace, it's never by any means certain that Rambo will survive (if you discount the other films, of course!) and the supporting characters are all wonderfully unsympathetic. Even Trautmann, Rambo's supposed mentor, has a touch of the villain about him for being complicit in the ultimate dehumanisation of Rambo during the war. By far the best character here is played by Dennehey; always watchable, but Stallone too is good; nicely restrained, more "Cop Land" than "Cobra"
Not an action film as such, it sits better as suspense. In that sense, it does exactly what it says on the tin; rendering John Rambo a far more interesting character here than his incarnation in the other two films. That is basically just wet-dream material for inadequate, spotty faced adolescent boys everywhere. This Rambo is recognisably human. Having said that, neither should you view expecting a solemn Vietnam protest movie in the vein of "Platoon" or "The Deer Hunter". It's different in tone and style to the both of those movies, but in my view at least, is better than either of them.
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