First Blood is a top tier action film. Considering that it's directed by Ted Kotcheff, who also did Wake in Fright, it's no surprise how great its use of its environment is. Dennehy makes a great villain. And I'm with you on Stallone. Rambo might not necessarily be the most sensitive or psychologically realistic portrayal of a Vietnam veteran, but he brings a sincerity and poignancy to his portrayal that makes his character genuinely affecting in the context of this lean, no frills actioner. Those qualities even make his character in the increasingly meatheaded sequels, which I think still deliver ably on the action goods if lacking the greatness of the original.Captain Terror wrote:Despite my grouchiness as a teen, one thing about the '80s that I did embrace was the Rocky series. When Rocky III hit cable, my brother and I watched it on a seemingly daily basis. One Christmas, when my brother received the Thriller LP, I was given the Rocky III soundtrack. (Eye of the Tiger > Beat It) The point of this story is that while I've had some unkind things to say about Arnold and Bruce Willis earlier in this thread, Stallone was always my guy. That may be hypocritical of me, as Stallone was capable of being equally cartoonish as Ahnold, but it is what it is. Which leads me to----
FIRST BLOOD (1982)
I'm not sure how this holds up as an examination of the Viet Nam vets' plight, and it's possibly downright insulting in that regard, but as an action film I was completely on board. I should have watched this a long time ago.
(Midway through the film I was struck by how much Richard Crenna's character resembles Halloween's Dr Loomis, in that his purpose is to roam from scene to scene telling people (and the audience) things like "You have no idea what he's capable of!" Am I crazy or has anyone else noticed that before?)
RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985)
Had myself pumped for this one but it didn't quite deliver. It's bigger and louder but decidedly not better. Some great moments - the chopper vs chopper sequence was pretty sweet - but it just felt a bit corny. From what I've gathered, Part III isn't going to be much of an improvement but I'm ready for it anway.
And another one for the I'm Clueless File: Didn't know that Jimmy Cameron was involved in this series at all. (He co-wrote II)
I'd actually put the fourth as the best sequel, as I find its handling of the character fairly interesting (even though the series is known for the jingoism of the second and third, Rambo's evolving relationship with the state and his role as a tool of ideological violence shifts throughout the movies and the fourth I think defines that element that makes the other sequels stronger in reflection). It also has a climax, that despite some pretty iffy shot choices, becomes thrilling through its relentless editing and sheer brutality.
I too watched the second film soon after the first film and couldn't help be let down in comparison, but it's grown on me over rewatches, particularly due to the almost nonstop action of its second half. Also, I didn't appreciate this as much initially, but after having watched Missing in Action (the ripoff that bizarrely managed to beat it to theatres), I realized that there's a fair bit of craftsmanship present that I'd taken for granted earlier but becomes more obvious when you have a much sloppier point of comparison. (As far as the Missing in Action series goes, however, the second is actually pretty good, with a prison camp setting and escape plot that give it a much higher level tension than the slapdash first and execrable third.)