Sunday, July 25, 2010

First Blood (1982)

"God didn't make Rambo, I did"

"First Blood" after all these years still endures. It is a story of a Vietnam War Veteran and P.O.W. who returns home to a country that has deserted him. All of his friends are dead, the last from cancer caused by chemicals in the war. John Rambo was just a man minding his business walking through a small town. All he wanted was a place to rest his head and some food but the town's Sheriff Teasle, played by the sinister and menacing Brian Dennehy, will not stand for it. No drifters in his town. Stallone explains in the commentary that Dennehy's character was a Korean War Veteran, a war that wasn't much publicized and barely remembered although nearly 40, 000 lives were lost. The fact that a Vietnam Veteran was trying to drift through his town ate at his very core. Which is why in the scene with Stallone and Dennehy in the police cruiser show, there is no love lost. Rambo is later falsely arrested and mistreated which bring out the solider and animal instincts causing Rambo to snap and escape into the surrounding mountains. Teasle and his boys pursue and one by one picked off. Later we are introduced to the now late Richard Crenna as Colonel Trautman, Rambo's former commander, who tries to warn Teasel that what he is dealing with is a war machine. He is trained to kill and trained to survive. What I love most about this movie is the setting and tone. Here is a trained soldier cornered on a mountain top with two hundred plus men around him, its raining, he's hurt, cold and alone, but still manages to survive. Stallone's lines are few an far between which works good for the character because soldiers don't talk they think and do. They are always one step ahead of you. If there hadn't been three sequels, "First Blood" could have definitely stood on its own as a great war film, even if it was a private war. I'm glad they made them though because this character was too good not to follow. But "First Blood" will always be my favorite. 4/5 -tom

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