So once again we have survived.

First Blood

Some video association recently named Sylvester Stallone “Action Star of the Millennium.” Well nobody knows where the fuck that’s coming from, mainly because there are about 999 years left on this millennium and about 900 on the previously millennium where nobody had figured out how to make action movies yet. But also there’s the sorry state of Sylvester Stallone’s career.

Now by that I do not mean that Entertainment Weekly shit that he is not making hits. There are many actors who are not making hits who are still completely respectable, such as our friend Mr. Eastwood. But Stallone is in the Arnold category, he’s done so much worse than making less money. His good days are so far behind him you almost don’t even associate him with them. First he turned Rambo into an icon and became the symbol of everything that is wrong with our country, our culture, our movies, and our clothes. (I mean that headband looked fuckin ridiculous.) Then he started makin shit like COBRA and DEMOLITION MAN and etc. etc. He fell so hard that even HE started noticing it after a while. So he went through a stage where he was fighting for critical respectability. He tried to go the Travolta route and lobbied for the role of Max Cherry in JACKIE BROWN. When that didn’t pan out he got fat for the role in COPLAND and america was under his spell until, you know, the movie came out. Soon he became so desperate he tried to revive both the Rocky and Rambo series, but luckily that hasn’t worked out yet.

First BloodI mean the dude is so easy to hate and laugh at now that you forget that he once was pretty decent. For cryin out loud he was in DEATH RACE 2000. The first Rocky was pretty good too and he Wrote it.

And the one thing I never had the chance to forget, because I never knew it, was that the character of Rambo was actually, at one time, a good character. I never saw FIRST BLOOD until recently and it’s pretty hard after all that came after to go back and admit it but, you know, this is actually a pretty fuckin good movie.

This movie starts out in classic Badass fashion with this Vietname vet John Rambo – dirty, hairy, probaly smelly – strolling into a small town to visit one of his platoon buddies. But the wife tells him that his buddy is dead, died of cancer from the agent orange. He died in the war, he just didn’t know it at the time.

So John turns around and starts walkin for who know where, when wouldn’t you know it the fuckin sherriff strolls up and starts givin him shit about being a suspicious stranger in town, with the nerve to not be driving a car or especially a truck. And to make matters worse the sherriff is Brian Dennehy.

So John has done absolutely nothing, and the sherriff is bein an asshole, and John is real stubborn so he doesn’t take no shit. First the sherriff drives him out of town and drops him off. Then he starts heading back into town.

Thing escalate. Next thing you know he’s arrested. And the other cops start beating him. Except for David Caruso, because he was young and innocent then, and didn’t quite agree with that. But before you know it John fights his way out, steals a motorcycle, drives it up into the mountains, accidentally kills two people in a police helicopter by throwing a rock at them… things escalate like this until he’s skulkin around covered in mud with a knife between his teeth, or gettin eaten by rats, or who knows what.

And then this colonel comes in and starts braggin about what a badass John is and he says, “He’s trained to eat things that’ll make a billygoat puke.”

What’s pretty amazing considering the Reagan era symbol of american brutality that Rambo became, is that this actually started as an anti-war story. The dvd has a real interesting commentary by the author of the book, who explains that the book was written as a way to “bring the Vietnam war home.” To show that when you turn someone into a ruthless killer of civilians, then abandon them, you are asking for trouble. Although the movie was notoriously violent at the time he says the novel was alot more violent, an attempt to accurately portray how vicious the war was.

It’s also interesting that the author doesn’t seem all that upset about what the character later came to stood for. He just mentions that it’s interesting.

As long as you’re able to forget about those other Rambo movies, or all the horrible one-man-army movies that it inspired, this is really a pretty great picture. Despite all the bloodshed the actual climax is at the end when, finally coming face to face with the fucker who trained him and then sent him off into the shit, John gets a chance to really vent. I’m not talking about killing people as a release. I’m talkin about he starts telling the colonel about things he saw in vietnam and then he just starts blubbering. This is actually real, authentic, topnotch acting by Mr. Stallone where he shows his vulnerability, and it kind of makes you uncomfortable.

Like I said I always avoided this picture before and I never knew it would be so emotional.

Warning: If you get the original dvd release of this, don’t expect much out of the extra feature “DOCUMENTARY – FIRST BLOOD: A LOOK BACK.” It is a bunch of clips from the movie set to cheesy dance music. There is no documentary involved.

http://youtu.be/XZjpB7xy1z4

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 1st, 2003 at 7:33 am and is filed under Action, Drama, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

21 Responses to “First Blood”

  1. I watched part 2 for the first time* and kept looking for a review, but am I too stupid to find them or did you never review any of the sequels, except part 4?

    *That heavily cut TV version that I saw 10 years ago doesn’t count.

  2. Unless they’re hidden in a Vern Tells It Like It Is I haven’t gotten to yet, there aren’t reviews for Rambo (First Blood Part II) or Rambo III. Rambo is one of those that comes up a lot but has never been reviewed like Independence Day, The Mummy, Batman & Robin and a handful of other “reference” films.

  3. “This time he’s fighting for his life” is a hell of a tagline.

  4. This is probably the most confusingly titled film series in movie history.

  5. CrustaceanHate; “This is probably the most confusingly titled film series in movie history.”

    Because..?

  6. Pegsman:

    Part 1 = First Blood
    Part 2 = Rambo: First Blood Part 2
    Part 3 = Rambo III
    Part 4 = Rambo

  7. RAMBO 3

  8. …looks like InterWeb is fucking with me again… Anyway, RAMBO 3 should really be named RAMBO 2: FIRST BLOOD part 3. At least it would if I had my way. It makes no sense calling it RAMBO 3.

  9. Overe here it’s easier. Parts 1-3 were all named RAMBO (1-3) and part 4 was JOHN RAMBO.

  10. Here in the U.S. (and on IMDb) the Rambo series uses Roman Numerals ShootMcKay, so CJ is right except for Rambo: First Blood Part II. I assume the odd case of Rambo III comes from name recognition as during Rambo: First Blood Part II’s run everyone just called it Rambo which I believe is why Vern’s pre-Rambo (2008) mentions of “Rambo” are to Rambo: First Blood Part II. Of course for me when I think of “old” Rambo I think of “Weird” Al’s UHF and that muscle suit shooting people until they explode in Twinkie filling.

  11. Yeah, UHF totally ruined (JOHN) RAMBO (IV) for me, because the bloodier it got, the more I had to think of Weird Al.

  12. CJ, you think that’s confusing? I saw Se7en a few years ago, and last week I saw 10. Okay, I didn’t see Eight and Nine, but what the hell happened?! Se7en was this gritty thriller and 10’s just Dudley Moore lusting after Bo Derek. What happened to Morgan Freeman’s character?

  13. Shoot, have you seen the two new Johan Falk movies?

  14. Pegsman – you think the discrepancy between Seven and 10 was weird? How about the time I watched Bruce Willis in Loaded Weapon 1, Die Hard 2, Four Rooms, The Fifth Element, The Sixth Sense, Lucky Number Slevin, The Whole Nine Yards, The Whole Ten Yards, 12 Monkeys, Ocean’s 12, and 16 Blocks. Absolutely no coherence whatsoever!

    I’m actually just now appreciating the fact that the later Die Hard sequels DON’T have numbers in them.

  15. pegsman – I have not. But there is more on the way, so I think I wait until I can see if there is a continuing storyline.Still its pretty sick that Joel Kinneman is the new RoboCop, isn´t it?

  16. Eventually they’re gonna run out of idioms that end in “DIE”

  17. Also,pegsman;” Hur vinner man mot Sverige med 4-0? Det german inte!” hehe

  18. Pegsman, 10 was a prequel! Dudley Moore was playing John Doe before he became a serial killer. There was no need for Morgan Freeman to appear.

  19. Remember a few years ago when they released the films 9 and NINE within a few months of each other? Confusing.

  20. My mother literally asked me what the movies were between 2001 and 2010.

  21. Before I saw FIRST BLOOD if somebody had come up and asked me if there was a Rambo movie where Rambo had to battle a bunch of small town cops, I woulda been like “Naw dude, you need to check your facts.”

    Fucking incredible movie.

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