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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 26.09%
Average: 8.7%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 5.8%

3 reviews, 51 user ratings

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First Blood
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by EricDSnider

"Mostly just cool violence, but there's some real substance there, too."
5 stars

"First Blood" is a frightening movie. It shows what war can do to its heroes, indicting us as a people for producing men so adept at killing they can do nothing else. It also gives a worst-case scenario in the escalating nightmare that narrow-mindedness and bigotry can cause.

It also, of course, features a very cool guy doing some very cool things with knives and guns and stuff. That's all the copycat filmmakers seem to remember these days; they would do well to watch "First Blood" again and see all those OTHER things that are in there, too.

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone in his first successful non-Rocky role) is a Vietnam veteran passing through town somewhere in the American northwest. The local sheriff (Brian Dennehy) doesn't like the looks of him: He could use a shower and a haircut, and we don't take kindly to drifters in these parts anyway, thank you. Since he rules his podunk little town with an iron fist, he hauls Rambo in for "vagrancy."

Soon the other cops are picking on Rambo, too, and soon he's beating the crap out of them and escaping into the forest. They've drawn first blood, so he feels justified in retaliating, which just makes them angrier, so THEY retaliate, too, and it goes back and forth from there. (See the war metaphor?)

The first scenes in the forest are scary and tense, as Rambo turns the landscape into a horrible maze of booby-traps and ambushes. Unwilling to admit they've been defeated by a lone man, the cops call in military backup. But Rambo is a one-man wrecking crew, as they say, and it's going to take more than guns to stop him.

Then arrives Col. Trautman (Richard Crenna), Rambo's commanding officer from the war. It was he who trained Rambo to be the survivalist he is now, able to live off the land and "eat things that would make a billy goat puke," as Trautman puts it. He's not here to save Rambo from the cops, though; he's here to save the cops from Rambo.

OK, it's all very exaggerated in a way that will appeal to men and other children, but Stallone really does give a haunting performance. The final few minutes, especially, show great range from the actor, and provide the film with its resonating depth and thought-provoking morality.

It's a shame this film became a prototype of sorts for shoot-'em-up, one-man-against-the-world action flicks, because it's so much better than that. It's undeniably entertaining on that level, too, but it has more to offer than just a high body count. It's one of the best movies ever to operate wholly on the level of a bad dream: The instigating factors are not plausible, but what if you DID find yourself in Rambo's situation, where victory seems more and more hopeless?

This is a dark drama about war and the exorcising of demons, and an unforgettable one at that.

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originally posted: 08/20/01 13:08:59
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell dull & sadistic 1 stars
6/15/14 Jamie Loved this review, so insightful. Just a great movie! 5 stars
8/15/10 bored mom A seriously meaningful classic unlike the sequels. Still resonates strongly well after Nam. 5 stars
2/20/10 art STALLONE"S BEST ROLE!,{I ROLL MY EYE"S!} 1 stars
1/25/10 Chad Dillon Cooper A one man Hostess twinkie on a rampage. 1 stars
4/09/09 Hiroshi Probably my favorite Stallone film. 5 stars
5/18/08 carlos G Better dialogue woulda done world of good, but Denehy great & not cheezy 80s/2008 gungho 4 stars
8/09/07 EZ $$ that's a huge gun 5 stars
7/14/07 Quigley Why is this so overrated. It's amazingly average, despite some cool scenes. 3 stars
6/13/07 al smith amazing one of the best films of the 80's 5 stars
1/01/07 johnnyfog No one believes me when I say this film has emotion. Thanks Stallone for the shitty sequels 5 stars
7/17/06 Indrid Cold Some great acting tempers the 80s cheesiness of it, but it still is far from a classic. 4 stars
3/20/06 Klondo yeah, we get it Snider: You Hate George Bush 5 stars
1/10/06 Cody a excellent action movie with good story and great perf. by stallone 4 stars
8/22/05 ES An amazing movie, the sequels were not 5 stars
7/29/05 tony EXELLENT PICTURE! 5 stars
3/13/05 Ronin Excelent. Still entertaining. A classic of the genre. Quite deep too. You MUST see it. 5 stars
2/16/05 Sugarfoot Absoluate classic. 5 stars
2/11/05 Jeff Anderson A surprisingly good film with Stallone at his best! A great double-bill with 1982's RUCKUS. 4 stars
2/06/05 Tom Benton One of Stallone's best; entertaining to the max. 4 stars
2/04/04 Spiderfan729 I had low expectations but while being crazily different from the book, it delievers! 5 stars
1/17/04 justin osborn i loved this movie 5 stars
12/27/03 Spiderfan729 The book freakin' rocked! David Morrel is a great writer! 5 stars
11/29/03 Jaron A brillian film!!! This film Captures the reality of after-war experiences... 5 stars
11/27/03 John it's exiting and involving - one of the best scores by Mr Goldsmith 5 stars
7/14/03 Sam Moszynski Best Rambo film. One of Sly's best! 4 stars
3/10/03 Jack Sommersby Too implausible to resonate, yet too exciting to ignore. 4 stars
3/09/03 jack b nimble Great movie 5 stars
5/19/02 john waite stallones best..more human than the sequels..nice knife to!..ohh.and he crys!..ahhhhh 5 stars
4/05/02 Justin My favorite Sly film without a doubt! 5 stars
3/06/02 Nate Makes alot of sence. One of the best movies I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent This is sweet!!! 5 stars
1/03/02 thijs mulders it's deeper than you think, not just action but also drama 5 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) The the best of the Rambos, even though it's the first. 3 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Perfect Stallone movie to feature his machismo! 5 stars
3/25/01 Monster W. Kung One of Stallone's best. Still isn't that good. 3 stars
3/01/01 R.W. Welch Less superficial than the bulk of Stallone's flicks and fairly intense. 4 stars
1/08/01 Captain Klerp Poor Production, believable acting, but a good plot with important Vietnam Undertones 4 stars
12/24/00 Destruction Worker Dude, I live in Corvallis too! 5 stars
11/03/00 Cristopher Revilla the key to the movie is the ending, listen carfully, and you'll know why its a great movie 5 stars
9/10/00 jasper stapleton instant classic 5 stars
8/23/00 zall lets see how many words does he speak here? 1 stars
6/17/00 Bender Shine shoe Shine shoe. Hilarious Action flick 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Fucking 'A' 5 stars
11/24/98 Fred Only decent Rambo movie. After the sequel, I figure Sly signed with Satan. 3 stars
11/13/98 Lord Of The Dunce Gave Sly a new chance at a career post-Rocky. Best of the series. 5 stars
11/03/98 Silent Rob Remove the topicality from the plot and it's.....nothing special. 3 stars
11/01/98 Vick Di Brecci An ok movie but watch out for Sly's silly climactic speech and Crenna's bad lines 4 stars
11/01/98 Oz A great movie. Free of patriotic fervor, darker and more real than the others. 5 stars
11/01/98 J-Guy (the MFC) liked the movie. liked the video game more. 4 stars
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  22-Oct-1982 (R)
  DVD: 23-Nov-2004

  N/A (15)

  02-Feb-1983 (M)

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