The film begins with John Rambo, a war vet who was part of a specialist unit in Vietnam, visiting the home of an old friend who he finds has died. As he makes his journey home by foot Rambo walks into a small town called hope where he is approached by corrupt town sheriff Teasle who calmly but forcefully removes Rambo from the town. Not a man to be pushed around Rambo re-enters the town only to be arrested.
What follows is a sickening display of police brutality towards a man who did nothing wrong. The forcefully behavior of the officers leads to flashbacks of the torture Rambo suffered in Vietnam which leads to Rambo attacking the officers and escaping the precinct, with officers in pursuit, and escaping into the surrounding woods, somewhere that our hero is very at home at.
The officers try hunting Rambo through the cold woods but as one officer, who is trying to shoot him, falls to his death from a police helicopter he becomes victim to police vengeance as Teasle becomes obsessed with getting Rambo no matter what. As you can imagine Rambo gets the better of the officers, he sets up traps, uses his surroundings as cover against them. There is a brutal looking trap involving sharpened wood which looks bloody painful as it swings into the legs on one of the officers which even made me say 'oh shit'. Rambo finally pins down Teasle and warns him to stay away, the forget about him, but Teasle isn't a man to give up easily, and as his officers are taking to hospital for multiple wounds he heads back in, with Rambo's former general (who is only there to protect the police from Rambo) with bloodlust and vengeance on his mind. This becomes a game of cat and mouse, and the mouse has several years of special forces training. The manhunt finally ends up back in the town in a tense showdown between Rambo and Teasle, and you can tell who comes out on top.
First Blood is the perfect example of 80's action films but this goes much further than that. This film has a deeper setting and that is the effects of war and the brutality of the Vietnam war in general. With soldiers coming home and being spat on. Rambo is a very emotionally scarred man, a man who knows war and is struggling to get back into normal life, something many people who came back from Vietnam felt. The finale of the film was heart wrenching to watch as Rambo breaks down in front of Trutman, speaking of struggling to find work back in the US, being the only one still alive in his squad. The other point to make out here is that Rambo did nothing wrong in the town. He just wanted to grab a bit of food and be on his way, but the corrupt behavior of Teasle brought the trouble to his own door. As Rambo himself says...he did draw FIRST BLOOD.
First Blood was a pleasant surprise. It was a film I have always wanted to watch but never got round to catching it in my younger days. Films like this can be products of the time, something horror and comedies can be guilty of alot of the time, but this is a great example of brilliant film making and story telling which still holds up today. Stallone in the 80's is a major cinema draw and watching First Blood makes me excited to see the next two parts of this original trilogy (at some point I will catch the reboot from a few years back) and catch more 80's action flicks.