First Blood, directed by Ted Kotcheff starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, and Brian Dennehy is the story of a man who comes across a small town off the side of a mountain while coming back from the Vietnam war. After being intimidated by the cops in the area for looking suspicious, our main character Rambo, played by Stallone, escapes to the forest and begins to mark his ground from the state police making an attempt to bring him in. First Blood is a pretty simple, and to the point, action movie, for the most part, making it a very fun experience.
First Blood, I have to say, is very much 80s, in the opening of the movie, we are thrown right into the story. The fight scene to get the movie started is kinda cheesy, at least by today’s standards. But once the film really gets into the mud, and we get to see what Rambo can do, and I have to say, it’s really cool and a fun experience. The film slowly brings us in to what Rambo is capable of and what he could choose to do.
This movie was a lot different than I thought it was going to be. When I heard the name Rambo I always thought of the parody that UHF did, where he is an embodiment of testosterone and goes around killing anyone who stands in his path. First Blood is not that movie, if anything Rambo just intimidates, rather than kill, which he could so easily do with the cops that are going after him.
The character of Rambo is easily the most developed in this movie, which is both a testament to good writing, and the unfortunate underdevelopment of the rest of the cast. The movie only focuses on three characters for the most part, Stallone, Crenna, and Dennehy. But Stallone, who hardly says anything at all, gets the most development. It makes sense because he is the main character, but the motivation behind why the cops give him as much trouble as they do feels weak (but it makes sense in terms of the message of the film). Crenna’s (Trautman) character isn’t given much to work with but that he is there to recruit Rambo. Part of that is probably due to the actor being shoved on the project overnight after a fallout with the other actor playing the same role. But it doesn’t excuse the fact that the other characters are under developed. But even with Rambo not saying much, it’s the actions he takes that build his character.
As I had stated earlier, some of the motivations in this movie to go after Rambo feel weak. The thing that really gets this movie going is the character of Galt, played by the late Jack Starrett. His character doesn’t like Rambo much at all and is the thing that ends the first act with the next conflict. His reasoning (or, really, lack thereof) for going after Rambo feels weak and forced. But once we get past the first act the movie starts to settle and bring in more action to keep the movie fresh.
The action in this movie, although 80s, is top notch. Especially for a director who hasn’t done much else before this movie, and a new actor who just came on the scene with the first two Rocky films. There is a scene towards the third act that reminded me a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The action is very enjoyable and keeps this movie going in showing us what Rambo is going to do next.
First Blood I would say is a timeless film, it’s one that reminds the audience of the horrors of war and what it can do to a person. The movie puts Rambo back into a Vietnam-like setting to relive the times of war he just returned from. For the most part, this works out very well I feel, but there are a couple of scenes where it feels maybe they are pushing the metaphor a little too hard. And on the topic of metaphors, this movie, I feel, doesn’t always connect its story elements to the analogy.
But even with all that being said, First Blood is a fantastic movie. It is a movie time-capsule, bringing important issues to the audience, especially in the final scene with Stallone and Crenna. It shows both the horrors of war, and the impact it has, it also teaches its audience an important lesson. And although some of the story elements don’t always connect with the metaphors, they are far and few between to completely bring the film down. And the ending of this movie brings a whole new layer to Rambo, one that simultaneously finishes his arc and brings the movie’s message full circle. It’s films like these that I love, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be a great film, both important and fun. For that I’ll give this movie a solid 8/10, a high recommend and important film.