Holiday Film Review–Rambo: First Blood (1982)

Directed by Ted Kotcheff. Written by Michael Kozoll & William Sackheim and Sylvester Stallone. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy, and Richard Crenna.

Now…I know that this movie isn’t considered to be a holiday film. It’s not Die Hard. I’m adding this to the holiday film review season because the movie is either set in the fall or the winter. The movie is set in the Pacific Northwest (Washington state) so it’s naturally cold and rainy. We’re starting the holiday film review season with action!

Rambo: First Blood is directed by Ted Kotcheff, who’s known for mainly directing comedies. Kotcheff directed The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz in 1974 and Weekend at Bernie’s after Rambo in 1989. John J. Rambo is played intensely by Sylvester Stallone. Rambo is a Vietnam veteran and drifter that wanders into a small Washington town looking for an old friend. Rambo is met with hostility as the town’s sheriff, Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy), doesn’t like drifters because he believes that it makes the town look dirty. Teasle and his deputies arrest Rambo. They restrain and try to shave him, which causes him to have a flashback of him being tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Rambo escapes the officers, where he flees to the woods surrounding the town. Teasle starts a manhunt for Rambo and doesn’t know how deadly the former Green Beret is. Rambo’s former commander (Richard Crenna) arrives to assist the officers in finding Rambo. Otherwise, the hunters (police officers) will become the hunted.

The film includes excellent performances by Stallone and Dennehy. Stallone portrays Rambo as a man that is haunted by his past. Rambo wants to achieve inner peace, which is ruined by sheriff Teasle. Stallone’s cold facial expressions are impressive when Stallone needs to show Rambo’s violent, brutal side. Dennehy brings emotion to Teasle, whether it’s anger or fear when Rambo is on the attack. Dennehy’s confidence as the sheriff perfectly conveys how egotistical the character is.

Director Ted Kotcheff captures the beauty of Washington state in this film with shots of gray skies along with a tree-line that seems miles wide. The forests of Washington state are gorgeous with danger hidden inside of the beauty. Kotcheff’s use of wide shots are numerous throughout the film. An example of the wide shot being handy is in the final action sequence where Rambo battles Teasle. The shot gives space to the Washington town, while showing how small the town is. There are some shots that last too long. An example is where a deputy fires repeatedly at Rambo in the woods. The shot is long to create tension, but it drags on. The deputy also has the accuracy of a Stormtrooper.

Final evaluation–Rambo is an amazing action film that reflects the horrors of PTSD.

Overall rating: 4/5.

Author: Jordan Lash

My name is Jordan Lash. I write about gaming and comics.

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