First Blood (1982)

first blood poster 1982 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Gritty and kind of dark

Very different from the other Rambo movies

Movie Info

Movie Name: First Blood

Studio: Anabasis Investments N. V.

Genre(s): Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): October 22, 1982

MPAA Rating: R

first blood john rambo vietnam vet brian dennehy

That’s right…I’m gonna hassle you. What are you going to do about it?

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a Vietnam vet, a Medal of Honor recipient, and a green beret finding it hard to fit in back in the United States.  When passing through Hope, Washington, Rambo finds himself harassed and arrested by Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy) just for being there.  Rambo finds himself pushed to the edge and the breaking point.  Escaping the police and hiding in the woods, Rambo is now in a stand-off, and the police drew first blood.

Directed by Ted Kotcheff, First Blood is an action-adventure movie.  The film sometimes is known as Rambo:  First Blood once Rambo:  First Blood Part II became a hit.  It was based on the 1972 book of the same name by David Morrell.  The relatively low budget film became a big hit and was well received by critics.

first blood john rambo knife sylvester stallone brian dennehy

Who’s playing now?

My friend and I watched First Blood a lot.  When Rambo:  First Blood Part II was released, it was the movie to see as a kid…but if you couldn’t see that, First Blood was a nice fall back.  First Blood however almost feels like a different character than the Rambo that became an American institution.

The reason is that First Blood is such a radically different movie from the other Rambo films.  When Rambo II was released, Rambo truly became a one-man action star…He was an American fighting for America.  In this film, Rambo is a screwed up vet struggling with his reintroduction to society in an America that has rejected him, and the war he was forced to fight.  He is unbalanced and goes completely crazy when he begins to suffer flashbacks of his imprisonment in Vietnam.  It is more of a shameful view of America then the Rambo that was touted in the mid and late 1980s.  A deleted scene had Rambo committing suicide at the end which almost makes more thematic sense, but it also would have been such a downer that it would have been hard to take.

first blood john rambo colonel trautman richard crenna sylvester stallone crying

Even a Rambo can cry

The sullen Stallone works in this movie.  He is soft spoken, mumbles, and feels broken, and destroyed.  He matches a lot of the people who came back from Vietnam.  He is met with Brian Dennehy who plays a great rival/villain with a different ideology than Rambo represents.  He does not want to see Rambo (like most Americans who were still rocked by the war)…Rambo is a problem with the ideology of America and the city of Hope.  The balance is found through Rambo’s commanding officer played by Richard Crenna who tries to bring Rambo in.  Though small, the movie also features one of the first roles of David Caruso.

First Blood is a pretty good movie and many might forget this with the institution that Rambo became after it.  His name became a noun and he was name-checked by President Reagan.  First Blood feels like it has heart and a gritty realism that the other Rambo movies lack.  First Blood was followed by Rambo:  First Blood Part II in 1985.

Related Links:

Rambo:  First Blood Part II (1985)

Rambo III (1988)

Rambo (2008)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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