People tend to forget that before the action movie really exploded in the 80s, with Stallone at the forefront, he had made some gripping movies with many strong performances. Creating a completely different kind of character than he did in Rocky and succeeding in making a second American and Cinema icon First Blood has emotion, brains, and tonnes of action. Based on David Morrell’s undervalued book the film looks at the paranoia of an ex-veteran and of a country which had turned its backs on those who protected it. Seen by many as just another mindless action flick, this goes deeper than most films of its kind. Yes, it is a classic ‘one man army’ movie, and although I feel its sequel deals more with the disillusionment of veterans, it is an effective look at a man trained only to kill-destroyed by his government, forgotten by his people. Small town exclusiveness, fear and small-mindedness are exploited to the full, and if you give it a chance, this is actually a highly satirical movie. It isn’t until later films and copycats that the brains go out the window and are replaced with flying limbs. But if you want to see explosions, guns and killings, which is what first brought me to this film, then you can’t find many better.
The story tells of a drifter who wanders into a small town hoping to find the other last surviving member of his squad from Vietnam- they didn’t have Facebook in those days, sadly. The Sheriff spots him and guesses that he is a drifter looking for trouble and tries to escort him out without fuss. When this doesn’t work he resorts to imprisonment and what Rambo’s broken mind sees as torture. All hell breaks loose. Rambo dispatches of the ‘bad guys’ using every inch of his training, and yes, from the start you know the cops don’t have a hope. There is only one death in the film, but plenty of action and tension. The few roles which call for any substantial acting are done well, the action is of a high quality, the music is memorable, and the script sufficient. If you want deep characterisation then watch The Deer Hunter, but for action, watch this.
There are some ok extras here, although a ‘proper’ special edition would be better. For a crisp, cheap version of the film though, this is perfect.
As always, feel free to leave your comments on the movie and review- is this the brainless action flick everyone supposes it is? Is this one of the best action films ever?