First Blood

Ted KotcheffUSA93 minutes198214AColourEnglish

View First Blood during the First Blood introduced by Ted Kotcheff event.

Sylvester Stallone had his first non-Rocky hit playing lovable sociopath John Rambo in Ted Kotcheff's lean, mean action thriller.

Following his acclaimed Mordecai Richler adaptation The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and a successful south-of-the-border career in Hollywood (which included the great Nick Nolte football flick North Dallas Forty), director Ted Kotcheff struck box-office and cultural paydirt with First Blood, which gave Sylvester Stallone his first non-Rocky hit and became an unlikely starting point of the Reaganite pop-cultural "renaissance." Stallone stars as Vietnam vet and former Special Forces hotshot John Rambo (a part previously turned down by Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta), whose mistreatment at the hands of a small-town sheriff (Brian Dennehy) turns him into a one-man army, leading the cops and National Guard on a brutal manhunt through the forests of the Pacific Northwest. Like many films that usher in major filmmaking trends, First Blood is surprisingly unlike the '80s action movies that it helped to spawn: while the name "Rambo" has become synonymous with cartoonish, brain-dead Hollywood excess, this first entry is lean, mean and gritty, with a somewhat ambivalent attitude towards its neurotic "hero" that would evaporate completely in the tub-thumping sequels.