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Johnny's Playroom is a Bunker Filled With Sand.

  • Mar 14, 2012

You always hear about in movies or other media about someone named Rambo being a bad ass or a tough guy.  He could very well be one of the greatest in movie history and you'd almost think his movies were nothing but gore fests and total mindless violence with no narrative or reason behind the meyhem.  The first film however, is pretty removed from that tag that is stuck on to the series.

John Rambo is a drifter who fought with honor in the Vietnam war, he also has no friends, came back home to riddicule and a bad case of PTSD.  One day passing through a small Oregon town Rambo runs afowl of the Sheriff who takes one look at him and thinks he's trouble, even though Rambo hasn't done anything.  Rambo is arrested for vagrancy after an attempt to evict him from town and is then beaten and harrassed by the deputies.  This triggers flashbacks in Rambo about his time when he was a POW by the Viet Kong and sure enough, survival instinct kicks in and Rambo goes on a tear through the station and escapes out into the woods with the Sheriff and his men in pursuit.  An initial attempt to capture Rambo goes bad with Rambo overpowering each of the men single-handedly with guerrilla warfare and when Rambo's trainer shows up, he gives the Sheriff the best advice he can.  Don't even try.  Rambo is a Green Beret who can live off the land, ignore bad weather, blend in with his surroundings and kill without remorse.  The Sheriff however is too pig headed and is firm in bringing Rambo in.

What I found powerful about the movie is how simplistic it was and the message it conveyed.  The best of the best who fight for this country aren't completely immune to the rigors and horrors of war and can fall victim to it's effects and how our own people who fight may not neccesarily be able to be helped either.  Rambo we learn could do some wonderful things in Vietnam like operate equipment and fly helicopters but didn't find much use for those skills back home, that or was spit on and discarded for being a "baby killer" in the war.  Also telling is how the "Weekend Warrior" National Guard are in they're careless actions to get Rambo or how to them it was just a job while Rambo takes everything he was taught in stride as apart of who he is now, for better or worse.

Another is how in this movie and the immediate sequel, the antagonist isn't necessarily a "bad guy".  Yes Sheriff Teasle does show prejudiced against Rambo pretty quickly in wanting to get him out of town, simply not recognizing him and taking one look at his army jacket but the Sheriff-we get the idea wants to keep the town safe and quiet and wants to nip whatever trouble Rambo would have caused in the bud and when you compare him to some of the help that the Sheriff has backing him up, he doesn't look as bad by comparison.  One scene has the Sheriff trying to snipe Rambo from the roof of the Sheriff's office while Rambo is moving through town, and systematically destroying it with a car lot first and then a gun shop.  Teasle closes his eyes with his rifle upon his head, and even though it isn't said, you get the idea that the Sheriff for the first time in the movie regrets messing with Rambo, cause now he is in the middle his own war-one that he started and is now losing.

First Blood ends in a powerful way and on a bit of a downer.  A great man who fought with valor in Vietnam couldn't adjust to his surroundings and with people like Teasle in the world he might not find peace.  You only hope that Rambo can find that peace he needs to exist in the new US he fought for, and then was left behind by.
Johnny's Playroom is a Bunker Filled With Sand. Johnny's Playroom is a Bunker Filled With Sand.

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March 14, 2012
yep, agreed on all points! well done, John! are you going to review the rest of the films? I think I need to make a badge....
March 14, 2012
I've already done the new Rambo so it's just a matter of getting to the others. It always makes me happy to use a Steely Dan lyric for a title. This one coming courtesy of "Third World Man".
March 14, 2012
Sylvester Stallone can make sequels for Iraq and Afghanistan. I would purchase tickets to see these.
More First Blood (movie) reviews
Quick Tip by . January 26, 2012
Troubled ex Green Beret gets harassed by small town sheriffs and wages war against them after he snaps from a bad flashback. Fantastic and tense movie starts slow and builds to a strong conclusion.
review by . October 24, 2009
John Rambo, (Sylvester Stallone) a Vietnam veteran turned vagrant is wandering in the Northwest Mountains looking for an old army buddy.  His shaggy unkempt appearance and cold demeanor hasn't won him many friends in a nearby town called Hope.  The town's sheriff (Brian Dennehy) doesn't like him very much and escorts him out of the city limits warning him to keep out.  John doesn't heed his warning and tries to return back but his immediately arrested.  Inside the Sheriff's station, …
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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About this movie


First Blood was the first non-Rocky film from Sylvester Stallone not to bomb at the box office.

Al Pacino, Nick Nolte, Michael Douglas, James Garner and Dustin Hoffman turned down the role of John Rambo.

This film has the lowest body count of all the Rambo movies.
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