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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

First Blood (1982)

(aka: Rambo: First Blood)



Reviews and Comments

So preposterous were its sequels that many have forgotten that this smaller-scale action film has considerable merit. While the sequels were all about John Rambo defeating entire armies, in First Blood he's simply a returning Vietnam veteran who finds a hostile reception back home. When the police chief of a small town spots him, an unfortunate series of events puts Rambo on the run from the law for more grievous charges than anything he has committed. These early scenes are important, for they establish a critical tone for the remainder of the film, which is pretty much just a good old fashioned action movie, because it muddies up the line between the goodguys and badguys. Our sympathy clearly lies with Rambo, but among the men after him, only two are "bad," while the rest are decent people doing their jobs and, frankly, much more in the right than Rambo is.

The unfortunate thing is that veterans of the Vietnam war were treated pretty poorly by the society they returned to. The social climate in First Blood may seem unlikely to those who only remember the Gulf Wars, during which even the most adamant protesters of the war still largely supported and honored the troops fighting it. Vietnam was a whole different story. While First Blood is an action movie first and foremost, it's refreshing to see one built upon such a thoughtful foundation.

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