Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sean Kelly

Revisiting 1982 - First Blood

It is time for the sixth entry in my year-long series in which I revisit some of the most classic films to be released 30 years ago in the year 1982 (the year of my birth).

When I started the "Revisiting 1982" series at the beginning of the year, I had no idea that I would actually be getting a chance to see some of these films theatrically.  That is indeed the case for this month's film (as well as next month's for a matter of fact), which I saw on the big screen in 35mm.  That would be the first Rambo film First Blood.  As always, there may be SPOILERS in this discussion.

Let's begin.

First Blood is the film that introduced us to John Rambo, who joins Rocky Balboa in being one of the two characters Sylvester Stallone is best known for.  I grew up being quite familiar with Rambo as a character, even though I never actually saw any of the movies.  In fact, I never saw a Rambo film until 2008's Rambo, which was probably not the best place to start, since that was the film that closed off the series.

When I watched First Blood, I was not really familiar with the film's plot.  As such, I was quite surprised that the film takes place in a small U.S. town with the villains being the local police force and national guard.  I was much more familiar with Rambo's portrayal in the sequels as a gung-ho action hero in some foreign jungle, so this much more subdued portrayal was a little unexpected.

When the film gets going, it's comes as a bit of a shock that Vietnam vet Rambo would seemingly pick a fight with the town's police force (though as Rambo and the title says "they drew first blood").  However, it slowly becomes apparent that Rambo is suffering from post-traumatic stress and also feels quite useless in his civilian life after all that he accomplished in Vietnam.  Rambo's superior Col Trautman trained him to be a killing machine and, as Rambo says in the movie, there is no way for him to turn it off.

Speaking of killing machine, despite the series' reputation of being hyper-violent action films (2008's Rambo takes the cake in that regard), Rambo kills absolutely NO ONE in this film.  He injures many people through his guerrilla warfare techniques (including a nasty spiked log to the crotch), but the only death in the film is accidental after a, particularly nasty, cop falls out of a helicopter after Rambo throws a rock at it.  I should also note that Rambo rarely speaks in this film, so it's a mostly physical performance for Stallone.

After watching this film, I'm quite certain that Rambo was, at least in part, the inspiration for the character of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series of videogames.  Rambo uses a lot of stealth and camouflage in First Blood, which is very much like Solid Snake.

One final comment before I wrap up is about how the Rambo series became very confusing with its sequel titles, as it slowly moved away from the title First Blood.  The second film in the series is called Rambo: First Blood Part II, however the third film is just called Rambo III.  This probably wouldn't have been that bad if it wasn't decided that the fourth and (so far) final film in the series would be called just Rambo.  They definitely should have thought that over better.

Next month's film will be another theatrical screening and it will be a film I originally planned to do last month: Conan the Barbarian.  Looking forward to some Schwarzenegger swords and sorcery.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).