First Blood (Blu-ray)
For some people you may not recognize the title but I assure you this is the first Rambo movie. The character of John Rambo became so recognizable that people began to call the movie Rambo, thus instigating the follow up titles. People loved this guy and to be honest, I can see why. He is a war hero that keeps fighting for what is right, albeit aggressively and with a mullet but nonetheless with a strong heart.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a war vet who has returned to the states. After discovering one of his last surviving war buddies has died from cancer he goes on the move. As he passes through a small town the local sheriff (Brian Dennehy) gives him a ride to the outside of town and warns him to stay out. All Rambo wants is a hot meal and bed so he defiantly returns. The sheriff arrests him. While being beat by one of the many officers in the police holding area, Rambo finally fights back and escapes to the nearby forest. Rambo goes into war mode surviving and defending himself toward anyone that might come into harm him, which is now the entire police department and town volunteers. Rambo’s commanding officer Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna) gets involved to mediate the situation but as he cryptically points out, not necessarily to save Rambo from them but save them from Rambo.
At an hour and a half running time, the film moves briskly. Rambo has his montage of using the bare necessities, maiming his hunters in primitive ways. He escapes near death numerous times and graphically cleans his wounds. While the film is violent, the death toll is actually held to a surprisingly low number because he is a good guy. Rambo does go a bit post-traumatic Vietnam crazy but “they drew first blood” and he’s just a product of the Vietnam soldier we created anyway. At least that is the film’s appeared political stance. It’s easy to get behind Rambo as the misunderstood unappreciated soldier but what I don’t get is why his adversaries had so much hatred for him. Was it his long hippie hair? Sure it doesn’t look good and he may be a bit smelly hitchhiking place to place, but is that a necessary reason to want to kill a guy. I understand it all escalates from them just wanting to keep a perceived bum out of their town but that escalation is a bit excessive and drastic.
Major credit is deserved to the musical score “It’s A Long Road” by Jerry Goldsmith, which gives the film adrenaline and inspiration. It’s unfortunate that the end credits include a slower lyrical cringe-inducing version of the song. It gives off a vibe that makes me think the filmmakers thought their product was more serious than it was. Nonetheless, the film is a joy to watch with some nice cinematic moments that remain in the public’s psyche today inspiring sequels and other action films to follow.
Video: Nice quality. The muted greens and grays never looked so good for the cast-over rainy weather of the film.
Audio: The voice levels compared to the background sound and effects are much quieter which causes a lot of turning up and turning down of the volume. Luckily there isn’t much dialogue.
Commentary by Actor Sylvester Stallone: Stallone is an extremely talkative and down-to-earth type of guy who tells everything in a casual conversational style, which makes his knowledgeable tidbits easy to listen to.
Commentary by Writer David Morrell: His commentary is informative as well but definitely from a more literature stand point and not near as entertaining.
Out of the Blu Trivia: A typical pop-up information feature that you can play during the film.
Drawing First Blood (22:35): The producers, writers, director, actors all discuss the process and difficult efforts in getting the film made with some very interesting information of the near involvement of Kirk Douglas and an alternate ending. Highly recommendable.
Deleted Scenes (5:33): A couple of very odd deleted scenes; one is an alternate ending where Rambo dies, the other is an extremely out of place flashback love scene.