The Ninjabot

Missed Classics: First Blood (1982)

Posted on May 30, 2013 at 6:30 am by Jess Hicks

I’m kicking off this new series of voluntary shaming with a big one. You read right folks, I had never seen Rambo: First Blood up until a couple nights ago. I can see your faces now, no really I can see into your computer screens and it’s not pretty. How did I make it through 23 years of life and NEVER see a Rambo movie, you ask?

To be completely honest with you, I’m not really a Stallone fan, he is a one trick pony. Of course this was totally okay for 80s action stars but I was just never a big fan. However, I do love me some gratuitous violence so Rambo was on my “to watch” list. It just kept getting passed over by more important things, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.


So let’s examine Rambo: First Blood and what exactly makes it such a classic. For other people like me who haven’t seen Rambo (I’m sure there is at least one) let’s get what little of a plot we have out of the way. John Rambo (really, that’s his last name) drifts into town in search of the last remaining member of the group he served with in Vietnam. Sadly, he learns his friend died the summer before of cancer that he, more than likely, got from the agent orange chemical spread through the jungle. Distraught Rambo heads towards town in search of something to eat when he is rudely tossed out by the local sheriff. Rambo isn’t about to take any guff from the local rednecks and heads back into town where he is promptly arrested, assaulted, humiliated and sent into a PTSD attack like you have never seen before.

Essentially that is it. He is assaulted by the world’s most annoying police department and then takes off into the woods and proceeds to wreak as much havoc as humanly possible. I honestly thought I missed a good half hour of the movie because, well, that’s a pretty bare bones plot and a really outrageous one at that. I mean sure these cops are total idiots and I wanted nothing more than Rambo to kick their asses but murdering them might have been a tad bit overzealous.

Rambo knife

And what about that violence? Maybe I have been so over-saturated in blood and guts given my viewing preferences but I didn’t see that much gore in this. Aside from some gun play and a few booby traps I don’t see what the big deal is? I don’t even think it was a “but for it’s time” thing because you know what else came out that year: Friday the 13th Pt. 3 and The Thing. Both films much more violent than this.

Overall I thought First Blood was trying to be two things at once and failing. On one hand we have Stallone as a badass Green Beret doing badass things but on the other hand we have a Vietnam movie trying to make a very serious point. If the movie had solely been John Rambo kicking ass and taking names then I would have been on board but it seems like the director wanted to take more of a stance on the war than anything. Don’t get me wrong, Vietnam was a horrible thing and it deserves to be recognized but it shouldn’t be pushed under the rug to make an action movie. My last gripe with this movie is Stallone, I already mentioned not being a big fan of him but given the seriousness of the underlying story I just can’t take him seriously enough in this role. Particularly his final scene where he spills his heart out about a friend in the war who was blown up in front of him. It should have been upsetting and heartfelt but Stallone is, like I said, a one trick pony. He’s good at being a badass and should stay that way. Here’s hoping the second one is better!

Film Grade: C-

You can follow Jess on Twitter @DangerJess_

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