First Blood (1982)
Stallone does Survivalist
It's been a long time since I watched the original Rambo movie "First Blood" and to be honest I had forgotten how good it is. Watching Sylvester Stallone run around a wood and use lots of army skills and tricks to avoid capture is simply entertaining. Yet I have to admit that at the same time "First Blood" is also outrageous with big action scenes which sweep you up to the point that you ignore the ridiculous side of them.
Still struggling with what he saw and endured during Vietnam, decorated former solider John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone - Rocky III) heads to Hope to visit a friend. But after receiving some bad news John finds himself falling foul of Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy - The Next Three Days) who for no reason arrests him. Forced to escape as Teasle and his men set about humiliating him John makes it up in to the nearby woods where he has to rely on his combat skills to try and survive. Meanwhile John's former commanding officer Trautman (Richard Crenna - Body Heat) arrives to try and bring an end to the situation as he knows blood will be shed.
To be honest "First Blood" doesn't need a lot of explaining as it is a simple idea about a Vietnam vet with psychological issues going native in the woods against a sadistic police force. But that idea of a man on the run with plenty of survival skills has a sort of primitive appeal, tapping in to the sort of games young boys use to play in their gardens. Now in fairness there is some depth to this, we have the fact that John is a Vietnam Vet with psychological issues. And we also have an ending as John gives a rallying speech over war and Vietnam. But in truth the appeal of "First Blood" is the simple action and adventure of a man in survival mode.
Now I did mention earlier that "First Blood" has a ridiculous side which almost goes unnoticed because the action side is so entertaining. Take John's escape from prison, first there is an over the top fight sequence where he defeats several men and then there is a motorbike chase where John turns into Steve McQueen and pulls of various jumps on the bike as sheriff Teasle pursues in a car. These scenes and many more are simply ridiculous as are scenes involving trigger happy police but at the same time these scenes are so entertaining that you don't care how unbelievable they are.
Of course we have the acting and Stallone manages to do an amazing job of fleshing out such a simple character. By doing the simple things we get to know and to be honest feel for Rambo and of course when it comes to action Stallone sells it like few others can with fights looking painfully realistically. But Stallone is aided by a good supporting cast with Richard Crenna as his former commanding officer and Brian Dennehy as the sadistic sheriff Teasle.
What this all boils down to is that "First Blood" is a simple movie but one which has this almost primitive appeal about one man in a wood fighting for survival. And considering "First Blood" is now over 30 years old it holds up remarkably well.
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