John Rambo, Vietnam veteran, green beret and recipient of the congressional medal of honor, is looking for an old war buddy of his. Upon hearing the news of his death – thereby making Rambo the only surviving member of his platoon – Rambo’s day is exacerbated further when the town’s sheriff (Brian Dennehy) denies him access because of his haircut, curmudgeonly manner and generally unkempt appearance. When Rambo fails to comply he’s locked up, but once the small town cops start antagonizing him, out things start to get messy.Continue reading →
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.
Christopher Walken landed a rare starring role in Abel Ferrara’s 1990 thriller as NY crime lord Frank White, recently released from prison and patrolling the rain lashed, neon-lit underbelly of his city. With the aid of his crew, Frank sets out to fix the city that has fallen apart in his absence, whilst retaining his criminal status, something cops Wesley Snipes and David Caruso rather object to. Also featuring Lawrence Fishburne, casting a shadow over everyone else’s performance as Walken’s right hand man and overall manic chicken-eatin’ mother fucker Jimmy Jump, and small roles from Steve Buscemi and Lost’s Harold Perrineau, if anything this film focuses too much on the policemen, and would have benefitted greatly from more Walken (as indeed could every film). He is the titular king, the film is his story, yet he seems to be a lesser character in it, though he is the most interesting as he disposes of the competition that have been running his city into the ground, and walks coolly and calmly away from a kill. I don’t think the ending did him justice either.