I am cautiously optimistic for Rambo 5, aka Last Blood. A huge fan of the series since I was a kid, seeing Stallone return as an older John J. Rambo has me very excited for when it comes out in a couple weeks. To celebrate, I am reviewing the original film, First Blood, and while the other three films are all worth watching, the original stands as the best.
Directed by Ted Kotcheff, "First Blood" is a 1982 action classic starring Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna. Calling it purely an action movie is a misnomer however, as for how much of it is action, it is wholeheartedly an anti-war film. Everyone knows the story. Vietnam War veteran Rambo, drifting through a pacific northwest town of Hope, gets caught up in violence when the sheriff of the town, Teasle, decides to run him out of town because he is a veteran and a ‘drifter.’ You can see the care given to the performance.
It is one of those times where I have to praise a film’s soundtrack specifically. Jerry Goldsmith’s soundtrack is iconic, and in some ways, while I prefer the synths of part two, the music has a somber and tense feeling to it that fits perfectly with the movie, as well as phenomenal cinematography.
The most obvious aspect worth praising is Stallone’s performance as Rambo. The series and Stallone himself as an actor are given a bad rap because of the connotation action films are given. But honestly, Stallone is a phenomenal actor, and this is just one of his examples, showing as much tenacity and grit as he did with Rocky. Rambo isn’t just a killing machine. He is a traumatized person that really experienced things nobody should ever have to, and is persecuted for it. Crenna portrays Colonel Sam Trautman, Rambo’s mentor and father figure, who bounces off perfectly with every interaction he has with Stallone, aside from a few badly done lines that build up Rambo as a badass.
Overall, "First Blood" is one of my favorite films of all time. There is nothing I can say to do this movie justice other than recommend it wholeheartedly. It surpasses other action films of the early 80s/70s, such as "Death Wish", and pushed boundaries for the standard of action movies. In some ways, it has yet to be surpassed to this day. If one hasn’t seen this movie and is expecting mindless action with Rambo shooting RPGs and machine guns, they will absolutely be alienated. This series gets thrown around as a rampage movie coming at out the tail end of the 80s, but the film itself isn’t that. That shows how good it is. It doesn’t need a ton of ultra-violence to succeed. It doesn’t need any of that. It has the performances and the writing that results in a film that will always resonate with audiences decades later.
Edited by Adam White, Jessica Galvin