The first time I watched this franchise kickstarter, as I’m sure was the case with most people who saw it after the release of the sequels, I was expecting a film more like Rambo 2-4, Stallone’s version of Red Dawn or Commando, charging around winning the Vietnam war singlehandedly, damming rivers with the sheer volume of machine gun shell casings left in his wake. But instead, First Blood follows Sly’s Vietnam vet John Rambo who, upon discovering he is the last surviving member of his crew, is run out of town by Brian Dennehy’s judgemental cop who doesn’t like the look of him. Refusing to leave, the cops – all of whom are either crooked, sadistic or offensively ginger – take him in and beat him around a bit, causing Rambo to snap and run off into the wood suffering ‘Nam flashbacks, with the cops hot on his tail and eager for revenge.
Seen from a different viewpoint, it would be easy to retell this as a horror film from the perspective of the police, with a plucky young David Caruso as the potential hero, as the small town police are taken out one by one by a sack cloth tunic wearing lunatic and an array of ingenious yet brutal traps, but this is Stallone’s show, and he puts in a committed, almost wordless performance.
Choose film 7/10