Like most people back in the 80’s, I had saw Rambo: First Blood Part II before I had watched the original First Blood. So we were all used to how action-packed and comic book-like Rambo had become, which made the first film look tame by comparison. Watching it again all these years later was like seeing it for the first time, and it’s awesome to see how the movie holds up so well 30-some years later as a perfect example of a good story mixed with realistic action.
The story follows John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) who has just returned from the war in Vietnam. Looking for a way to fit in a world he’s long forgotten, he tries to connect with some old friends in a small town which sadly leads to him being arrested and soon abused by the prick sheriff named Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). This abuse soon awakens Rambo’s deadly military training, which leads him to break out of jail and seek revenge on Teasle and his followers.
It isn’t long before a manhunt for Rambo goes into effect, and the only person who can help is Rambo’s old friend Colonel Trautman (Richard Crenna) that tries to talk him out of hunting Teasle and company down. But we all know once you get Rambo fired up, there’s nothing he won’t do to finish what he starts.
While it may seem slow and tame compared to the other entries in the series, this is hands down the best that mixes a well thought out story and drama with some pretty nice action moments peppered in. When I think about it, this movie reminds me a lot of The Hunted, one of my all-time favorite films starring Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro. I wouldn’t be surprised if that movie drew loads of inspiration from this 1982 classic, as they both deal with a good guy dealing with post traumatic stress syndrome, and Sylvester Stallone does a perfect job portraying this as Rambo.
Thanks to the nice 4K transfer, the picture and audio are really remarkable, almost to the point you’d think this movie came out only a few years ago. The last time I saw this film was on VHS, so this version is a huge upgrade with HDR to make sure every detail comes in perfectly.
There’s also some really nice special features here, starting with audio commentary by Sylvester Stallone that’s probably one of the best I’ve heard. He goes into how Rambo came to be, how much he’s changed over the series (can’t wait to see “cowboy” Rambo coming soon), and awesome anecdotes such as problems with the production and the heated arguments behind the scenes and more. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, then there’s the audio commentary by writer David Morrell that’s just as enthralling. He shares how the film was made and how he was going for a nice balance of action and story, and how it was working with Stallone. Then it gets personal as he goes into how his teenage son Matthew died of bone cancer in 1987, and other things he talks about that just grips you and keeps you listening.
There’s also other extras such as “The Real Nam” that features various interviews of real soldiers and Vietnamese people as they talk about the tragedies of the Vietnam war. “Drawing First Blood” goes into how the famous book went from novel to the big screen. Some other extras include some more behind the scenes stuff, some deleted scenes that feature a dramatic alternate ending, and more.
It may not be super action-packed like the other entries, but First Blood is definitely the most well made and thought out. It’s a near perfect look into how PTSD can make a good soldier go off the edge, while also making you question who is right or wrong in their actions. If you enjoy thought-provoking drama with your action, you’ll want this 4K release to draw blood in your collection.