First Blood

This review was originally written for French Toast Sunday.

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.first_blood_pic1 Continue reading

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Top 10… Reasons Why I Love Demolition Man

The Top 10 lists are back! Apologies for the recent extended break I’ve unintentionally taken from posting anything, I was waiting for my housing situation to resolve itself but that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon, so I may as well get back to typing. Anyway, as I said, the Top 10 lists have returned, and this time with something a little different. Normally, I’d list of ten films, or scenes, or characters or whatever, but this week – and every so often after – I’m looking at just one film in particular, as a celebration for how much I love it. The prestigious honour of the first film goes to a movie I championed for the most recent Movie of the Month poll over at the Lamb. Due to it being so amazing, the film won with a landslide victory, and I was able to host an episode of the Lambcast on it, which can be listened to here.DemolitionMan14

So what is this film, I hear you ask? Well, it’s Demolition Man, the 1993 action/crime/sci-fi/comedy directed by Marco Brambilla, produced by Joel Silver and starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock. The basic premise sees Stallone’s sergeant John Spartan, a renegade cop in 1996’s burning L.A., track down Snipes’ Simon Phoenix, a psychopathic killer. During Phoenix’s arrest, Spartan is incorrectly blamed for the deaths of Phoenix’s hostages, and both men are sentenced to prison, but not just any incarceration. No, they are cryogenically frozen and mentally ‘reprogrammed’ to become better citizens, with the intention of thawing them out many years in the future. In 2032, Phoenix is thawed out for a parole hearing, but escapes the prison facility and goes on the run. The police force in the now-peaceful future utopia are ill-equipped to deal with Phoenix’s brand of mindless violence, and so Spartan is defrosted to help catch him.

So, without further ado, here’s my Top 10 reasons why I love Demolition Man: [Spoiler warning]
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First Blood

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

Rocky

Written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, Rocky tells the story of Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer working as an enforcer for a loan shark to make ends meet, and clumsily wooing his friends sister, a shop assistant at a pet store. Rocky is given a shot at the big time by superstar world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Rocky exact opposite in a man seemingly with everything. Rocky won the Oscar for best picture in 1977, beating such classics as Taxi Driver, All the President’s Men and Network, yet I am at a loss for why. Yes, it is enjoyable, with some great dialogue (“It’s Thanksgiving” “Yeah to you, but to me it’s Thursday”) but the acting is mostly passable and the story derivative, but it did birth the training montage, now a staple of any sports movie.
Choose life 6/10