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September 13, 2019

Rambo: First Blood (1982) --- “One War Against One Man Who Only Wanted Something To Eat.”

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
     Based on the 1972 novel by David Morell, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a former Green Beret and Medal of Honor recipient, is plagued by the after-effects of the Vietnam war and lives the remainder of his life as a drifter. While on his way to get some food, Rambo is arrested by Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), a small-town sheriff who is used to getting things his way. Once incarcerated, Rambo soon finds himself reliving the awful memories he experienced as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Soon Rambo escapes and an intense manhunt turns into a highly publicized one-man-war against the police and the national guard, and all of this is for a man who only wanted something to eat. 
     Directed by Ted Kotcheff (Weekend at Bernie’s) and written by Michael Kozoll (Hill Street Blues), William Sackheim (The Competition), and Sylvester Stallone (Rambo Last Blood, Creed 1 & 2), First Blood (1982) is an intense and entertaining film that transcends the action genre and has stood the test of time. Before Rambo, James Bond, with his smooth and debonair attitude, was pretty much your ideal star in an action film. But Rambo is realistic; he bleeds, he cries, he gets angry. Basically, he wears his emotions on his sleeve and that’s what makes him so relatable. The story also tries to say something profound about his physical predicament and mental state. Rambo may be Vietnam vet but he is very reluctant to kill anyone unless he absolutely has to. This, of course, is a far cry from the homicidal maniac - who is seemingly responsible for more deaths than both World Wars combined -  he later becomes. In fact, Rambo actually starts off as a fairly nice chap that we can sympathize with but it is only when he is unnecessarily and roughly treated by the small-town sheriff and his crew that we see another side to him come out. But as I mentioned earlier, Rambo doesn’t like to kill unless he has no other choice, so don’t expect there to be lots of gore and senseless killing. Instead, Rambo relies more on guile and cunning than brawn and an M-16 to get him out of tricky situations. At the same time, don’t expect this to be a boring film because it is far from it. There is a keen awareness of pace and it is never certain if Rambo will survive or even what the final outcome will look like. This is an action film that relies more on suspense than gore, and that is what makes this film so great. 
     The cast performances are memorable. Along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone (Rambo: Last Blood) was hugely popular in the ‘80s and here he gives one of his most iconic performances ever. As Rambo, Stallone communicates the rage, depression, frustration and the psychological wounds of a soldier who fought for his country, only to be later be hassled by it upon his return. However, this would not be possible if it were not for Brian Dennehy (The Blacklist) being incredibly efficient as the menacing, bigoted, and territorial Sheriff Teasle, who has it out for Rambo from the start. Dennehy has not missed a beat in his entire career and as always he puts everything into each performance. His lackies played by Bill Mckinney (The Outlaw Josey Wales), Jack Starrett (Blazing Saddles), David Caruso (CSI: Miami) all perform well and help add to Dennehy’s character arc. Richard Crenna (Rambo 2 & 3) as Rambo’s former colonel, Colonel Trautman, is incredible and plays off of Dennehy’s character quite well.

     Overall, First Blood (2019) is a must-see iconic film that stands the test of time. The story is action-packed but not unnecessarily gory. Rather, it is dramatic and awakening in its reminder to never disrespect the men and women who fight for our freedom. The cast performances are solid and play off each other quite well. I highly recommend that you check out this film even if you don’t have plans to see that latest installment, Rambo: Last Blood. Decide for yourself if this film lives up to the hype or if it fails to meet expectations.

Final Vote --- 7.7 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar
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Rambo: First Blood (1982)
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Rambo (2008)
Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

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