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Film Review: First Blood (1982)

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


I’ve never found it to hard to convince others what a great films “First Blood” is. While you don’t really place Stallone films into the cult category, this particular entry is probably the closet to that category than anything he has done.

The film that sparked the “Rambo” franchise was one that came along and just floored viewing audiences as the one film on the market to check out. At the time, there was no Rambo, and no mission to fuel a gaggle of films that exploit his military connections. The film simply introduced us to a war vet ‘drifter” who was just trying to get a bite to eat on his journey thru town. The film sparked several dialog lines that to this day can be recited verbatim. And not to mention, audiences really connected to this character who can take out an entire police station without thinking twice about it. It was the kind of choice of actions that we might find in a Terminator film, but instead it also became the story of a tormented soul who we instantly feel bad for. Because of this, the films wavered between action and thriller. Keeping the feeling of the local cold air and small town pretty active thru the camera eye.

Who was John Rambo? A war vet, a Vietnam survivor, a super soldier, a weapons ace, a misunderstood character and reflection of what “really” transpired when many of our soldiers returned from this era. The film touched a nerve and in many ways made us feel embarrassed for the way we treated our heroes.

The local sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy) gets the award for the screen time “d*ck of the year” who while trying to keep his village “boring” ends up “pushing” the wrong person for the wrong reasons. This results in hauling Rambo into the station for processing.

The film features an earlier appearance by David Caruso, who despite looking like the station dweeb, ends up getting stepped on, and pushed aside as quickly as the rest of them. The encounter embarks a manhunt for this drifter who really didn’t do anything except try and walk thru town. Being a vet himself, John Rambo takes to the hills and survives in the only ways he knows how.

The ignorant police force entertains the idea that they can out-gun, out-man, and out-survive this war hero to the amusement of the viewing audience. Quickly we see Rambo embrace this familiar territory while outsmarting the police with a set of know-how’s, traps and cunning hunting skills. The local police in fact only make things worse for themselves while trying to keep their pride of being outsmarted by an outsider. It is later that they are informed by John’s former commanding officer Colonel Samuel Trautman, of his past and abilities. As the story goes, it’s a one man army vs the local enforcers ending in a showdown of fire and destruction for the town. Stallone saves his best speech for last that up till then was a series of short words and grunts. cool Stuff!

The film, marks a great achievement in action releases that spawned yet another hero character for Stallone. I always admired how Stallone took on these characters like “Rocky”, “Rambo”, and “Cobra” creating another notch in the accolades of action film stars (Let’s not forget one of my favs “Jack Carter” as well)

The movie would go on to be cited as one of the top 500 movies of all time. The film was well received and what would be considered a success for Hollywood box offices. To further the point, the film costs $14 million and earned $125 million. Fans of Stallone, action films or just great films in general, should definitely give First Blood a shot. The follow up films while also being great took on a different tone than this one. First Blood was in fact as it title suggests.

First Blood” is now available on Bluray per Lionsgate Entertainment as part of the recent “Stallone 3 film pack“. The collection also includes “Lock Up” and “Copland

First Blood (1982)

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