THE STORY SO FAR…
First Blood is the Sylvester Stallone film that unleashed “Rambo” onto an unsuspecting world. Wandering into a small, hostiletown, ex-Green Beret John Rambo (Stallone) is targeted for persecution and abuse by potbellied Sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). When he can standno more, Rambo goes bonkers, killing a deputy andheading into the surrounding hills, armed to the teeth. Only after Rambo has picked off practicallyevery law enforcement officer within a radius of 50 miles do the local authorities bring in his former commanding officer Trautman (Richard Crenna) for advise. Trautman’s response, that the locals had better get a lot of body bags ready, is hardly encouraging. First Blood proved to be one of Stallone’s biggest non-Rocky hits. Kirk Douglas had originally been cast as Trautman, but he ankled the project when the producers refused to cave in to Douglas’ demand that Trautman kill Rambo in the finale.
- Deleted Scenes
- Audio Commentary with Sylvester Stallone
- Audio Commentary with Written David Morrell
- Drawing First Blood
- Video: I’ve now seen this film in the best presentation possible. I say that a lot, but I mean it. Almost every Blu-Ray disc that has been produced has been a mark improvement over Standard Definition.
- Audio: ENGLISH: DD-EX 5.1
ENGLISH: DTS HD 5.1
- Extras: Featurette, Deleted Scenes and Commentaries
- Packaging: Standard Blu-Ray keepcase
- Final Tally: 95% – A
First Blood is about a Vietnam vet named John Rambo who comes to a small Washington state town (actually British Columbia) to find the last surviving comrade from his elite Green Beret unit. When he discovers that he too is dead, Rambo makes his way into town for a bite to eat and instead winds up being arrested by the hick local sheriff (Brian Dennehy). While in custody, Rambo is abused by the locals but manages to escape sparking an all out manhunt.
This film has 55 minutes of action out of 96 total highlighted by the jail escape and subsequent chase. Jack Starrett is great as the cop that does most of the abusing while Davis Caruso is fine as the only deputy (among the surprisingly large local force) that seems to have a conscience. Dennehy is good as always and makes a worthy opponent for Rambo. Richard Crenna is great as Rambo’s former CO and he and Dennehy play off one another quite well. Even though he has limited speaking parts, this is probably one of Stallone’s best performances highlighted by the “Vietnam speech” near the end of the film.
The superior quality of the story for the film came from author David Morrell, who wrote the original novel the film was based upon, it was then adapted into a screenplay by writers Michael Kozoll, William Sackheim, and Sylvester Stallone. Though I’ve read that the film differs in numerous places from the book, if not for that initial novel this film may not have had the same level of depth, social commentary, and realism that made “First Blood” so much better than other action movies of its time. Assisting in the quality of the film, was the solid, no frills direction from director Ted Kotcheff, who by choosing to film on location imbued the film with a gritty, natural feeling in tone that could not have been captured as easily on a back lot of some studio in Hollywood.
The acting from Sylvester Stallone was some of the best he has ever done in any of his films. We all knew from his ‘Rocky’ series of films that he could handle the action scenes and even the dramatic ones, but it was the pure emotion he brought to the character that was so surprising, especially in that riveting final scene in the police station. Richard Crenna and Brian Dennehy were superb in their supporting roles as Colonel Trautman and Sheriff Teasle. Crenna created a pseudo-father figure for Rambo with Trautman, and provided audiences, along with the characters in the movie, the interesting insights into the possible mindset of Rambo, and also just what exactly he is capable of. As a credit to his talent, Crenna’s character of Trautman not only became one of his most popular characters throughout his entire career, but his character’s brief moments of exposition may have been the key point in the film in which Rambo went from being just a misunderstood war veteran, to one of Hollywood’s iconic heroes. Brian Dennehy was perfect as the seemingly good natured Sheriff when we first meet him, to becoming the slimy villain, who along with the rest of his police force, embodied the viewpoint of the numerous protestors to the Vietnam War and its veterans, and all others who have judged rather than respect our veterans throughout the history of our country.
The Blu-Ray disc brings out some amazing looking visuals from an older picture. The A/V Quality is so crisp that you almost forget when it’s been made. Sure, the special features are the same as the previously Blu-Ray disc, but it works as part of the original trilogy repackage released on Blu-Ray to coincide with “Rambo”. As an added bonus, you get a better look at the film’s original ending. So, take that for what you will and make the purchase.Â
RELEASE DATE: 05/27/08