Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim, Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy
It's a long road for John Rambo, from the jungles of Vietnam to the back roads of the Pacific Northwest, just looking for somewhere to be left in peace. But peace and Rambo are not meant to be. After learning of the death of a fellow infantryman, Rambo passes through a small town, encountering the local sheriff who makes it clear to him that he's not welcome. A veteran of an unpopular war that the country was still coming to terms with, Rambo hasn't felt welcome since coming home and he has had enough. What begins as a simple battle of wills between a drifter and local law becomes all-out war between a Special Forces Green Beret using his skills to defend himself in dangerous mountain terrain, and a small army out to bring him in dead or alive. John Rambo may not have drawn first blood in this fight, but he's going to be damn sure he's the last one standing.
Before the politically dubious and ridiculous (but undeniably entertaining) sequels that made the character a pop culture legend, FIRST BLOOD offered a more serious and grounded John Rambo, here portrayed (as he was in David Morell's novel) as a veteran struggling with PTSD who snaps after years of rejection by the country he fought to defend. Not yet the super solider who kills everything he aims at, this Rambo doesn't even kill anyone (though he blows a LOT of shit up) and only uses his training (extremely well, mind you) for self-defense. FIRST BLOOD remains a first-rate action film with solid direction by Canadian Ted Kotcheff and one of Sylvester Stallone's best performances, making Rambo both a sympathetic veteran struggling to adjust stateside and a believable action hero. – Matthew Kiernan
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