Published on January 14th, 2009 | by Chris0
First Blood (1982)
Ah, the one that started it all, that introduced us to the now immortal character of John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), ex Green Beret turned ronin samurai, defender of freedom and justice wherever he's needed.
Only in First Blood, he's not that man. Really you have to wonder where the entire "Rambo" persona came from after seeing this movie. But I'll get more into that later.
We find Rambo walking the earth, looking for the last member of his squad from Vietnam. After finding out that he's died of cancer, he continues his walkabout. Where he walks square into the town of Hope, WA (a fitting name) only to find that hope in this town, at least for Rambo, has abandonded him.
Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy) doesn't take to Rambo's "hippie"-ish looks, and escorts him straight through to the other side of town, when all John wants is to stop for a hot meal on his trek. Big mistake.
After Teasle takes him into jail, Rambo starts having POW flashbacks, and violently flees into the woods, where he proceeds to do what he was trained to do, survive. Unfortunately for everyone going in after him, this means, survive through killing.
Only after Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna) arrives to defuse the situation do things really start to become clear. He's a cornered animal, a machine who doesn't know how to do anything else.
Well, I'm sure you've all seen it before, so I don't need to go through the gory details. Long story short, its the ending here that defines Rambo. His breaking down in front of Trautman, which like it or not was really a nice bit of work on Stallone's behalf, probably describes the feelings of a lot of Vietnam veterans, and veterans of any war.
Which brings me back to the first point. Its too bad that Hollywood saw fit to turn this character into nothing more than a comic book hero for the next two entries in the Rambo "franchise." Not until last year's Stallone-produced "Rambo" did we see this person again, at least with any sort of real meaning or purpose.
You'll also note that this film is pretty much devoid of the gratuitous violence which was present in later chapters. Director Todd Kotcheff managed to give us a picture without exploding bodies or detaching limbs, which only adds to the suspense and drama of it all.
If you've never seen the first chapter of the Rambo saga, I recommend you take a look, just to see what started it all, and to get a firm anchor on what the character is all about. If you have, you might go back and see First Blood again, just to remind yourself of one of the hidden costs of war, and maybe to appreciate your veteran friends and neighbors a bit more. Not that they'd go all Rambo on you or anything... er, well, you know what I mean.
Here's the scene that sends John over the edge, and you can see where things are going....
also keep an eye out for a much younger and non csi-miami-pose-for-the-camera David Caruso...
Summary: the one that started it all, that introduced us to the now immortal character of John J. Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), ex Green Beret turned ronin samurai, defender of freedom and justice wherever he's needed.