Author Topic: First Blood (1982)  (Read 2066 times)

Offline Antares

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First Blood (1982)
« on: December 09, 2009, 01:26:23 AM »
First Blood





Year: 1982
Film Studio: Carolco Pictures, Anabasis, Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Genre: Action, Suspense/Thriller, Drama
Length: 93 Min.

Director
Ted Kotcheff

Writing
David Morrell...Original Material By
Michael Kozoll...Screenwriter
William Sackheim...Screenwriter
Sylvester Stallone...Screenwriter

Producer
Mario Kassar
Andrew Vajna
Buzz Feitshans

Cinematographer
Andrew Laszlo (1926)

Music
Jerry Goldsmith (1929)...Composer
Jerry Goldsmith (1929)...Song Writer
Hal Shaper...Song Writer

Stars
Sylvester Stallone (1946) as Rambo
Richard Crenna (1926) as Trautman
Brian Dennehy (1938) as Teasle
Bill McKinney (1931) as Kern
Jack Starrett (1936) as Galt
Michael Talbott (1955) as Balford
Chris Mulkey as Ward
John McLiam (1918) as Orval

Review
       An ex-Vietnam vet drifting through the Pacific Northwest is arrested for vagrancy in a sleepy backwater town. After some malicious treatment by deputies at the local police station, he breaks free from his captors and escapes into the wilds of the mountains. What the local law enforcement doesn’t know, but will soon painfully learn, is that the escapee they are tracking was a one time member of the Green Beret’s elite special forces. A warrior specifically trained to function in the most primitive and hostile of environments, setting the stage for the pursuers to become the prey themselves.

       At first glance, the screenplay for Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood has all the markings of an engaging and adventurous action film. In the first half of the movie, John Rambo’s (Stallone) ingenuity in the face of his increasing necessity to survive at all costs, grabs the viewer by the throat with ferocity unseen in previous action films. Unfortunately, at around the midpoint in the movie, the first monkey wrench is thrown into the story with the arrival of Colonel Samuel Trautman (Richard Crenna). Never for a moment is Crenna believable as the mentor of the man whom all of law enforcement view as a wild and dangerous cop-killer and are now warily trying to apprehend. His appearance and behavior strike the viewer with a sense of a textbook toy soldier instead of that of a taciturn tactician, hell bent on recovering his ‘broken arrow’ before the body bags are stacked up like cordwood. All the while I was watching this film my thoughts turned to how well this role would have suited Lee Marvin. His gruff manner and his detached demeanor would have lent more credence to Rambo’s experience in guerrilla warfare and also to his own plight in rescuing his former comrade-in-arms.

       The second misstep in the screenplay deals with Rambo’s personal vendetta against sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). By switching the premise from that of a wily warrior whose gut instincts help him persevere, to that of a revenge-crazed renegade, the director reaches down into mans primal desire for retribution at a cost of continuity in the story. A warrior as skilled in the ways of warfare would first diffuse the situation as best he could and thus live to fight another day. At one point in the film, this is what Col. Trautman suggests to sheriff Teasle as the best way to recapture Rambo. It is understandable that Teasle will not let go of his fixation on his escaped prisoner, but in Rambo’s case, this flies in the face of his training and all military doctrine. It would make no sense from his standpoint to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire, yet that is what he does as he relentlessly moves back into the town to hunt his quarry.

       The third and final problem in the story deals with Rambo’s soliloquy just before he is taken back into custody. Not only is this scene nicely tidied up to bring a safe ending to the film, but it also allows Rambo’s character to appear as a martyr for the men who fought in the most dysfunctional war our nation has ever fought. Rambo’s diatribe covers no new aspect of the personal torment that returning veterans faced in the mid-seventies, that films such as The Deerhunter and Coming Home had already showcased. It only serves to placate the viewer by copping out to the fact that a test audience didn’t like the original ending to this film, which had Rambo committing suicide instead of being captured and incarcerated. Once again, weak-kneed executives bowed to the will of the moronic masses that don’t understand that irony is the fuel that all good drama feeds upon. And of course, there would have been no sequels had he taken this course of action. In the end, First Blood will only be remembered as a B-level action movie instead of a classic tale of a disenfranchised cog in the machinery of American military might.


Ratings Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2010, 11:55:12 PM by Antares »

Najemikon

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Re: First Blood (1982)
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2009, 02:44:15 AM »
First Blood (1982)
It only serves to placate the viewer by copping out to the fact that a test audience didn’t like the original ending to this film, which had Rambo committing suicide instead of being captured and incarcerated. Once again, weak-kneed executives bowed to the will of the moronic masses that don’t understand that irony is the fuel that all good drama feeds upon. And of course, there would have been no sequels had he taken this course of action. In the end, First Blood will only be remembered as a B-level action movie instead of a classic tale of a disenfranchised cog in the machinery of American military might.

I can't quite remember now, but I never thought the novels death scene had been filmed? Certainly Stallone made a big thing in a recent interview I saw on the Blu-Ray about not wanting to kill Rambo off (specifically to avoid the irony!), but instead give him an "emotional death" in the speech. I always thought that was pretty good, but I take your point.

One thing to bear in mind though is the audience this and especially the sequels, was aimed at. The Rambo series was a favourite of my dad's; he liked films that are painted in broad strokes, the good guy wins, and normally the bad guy is splattered messily across something. Irony wouldn't have washed with him at all.

Offline Antares

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Re: First Blood (1982)
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2009, 03:01:04 AM »
I can't quite remember now, but I never thought the novels death scene had been filmed? Certainly Stallone made a big thing in a recent interview I saw on the Blu-Ray about not wanting to kill Rambo off (specifically to avoid the irony!), but instead give him an "emotional death" in the speech. I always thought that was pretty good, but I take your point.
Revisionist history on the part of Sly. If he had committed suicide, there would have been no Rambo franchise. And that franchise was very, very good to Stallone.

From First Blood's Special Features listings at Deep Discount DVD...

Quote
Region 1
Keep Case
Widescreen - 1.85
Additional Release Material:
Audio Commentary - 1. Sylvester Stallone
Deleted Scenes - 1. Alternate Suicide Ending
Interactive Features:
Full Spectrum Warrior X-Box Game Demo
RAMBO Download - 1.Portable Media Center Versions
MetaVision: Survival Mode - 1. Activate to anhance your viewing capability of the film.

Najemikon

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Re: First Blood (1982)
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2009, 03:14:02 AM »
I can't quite remember now, but I never thought the novels death scene had been filmed? Certainly Stallone made a big thing in a recent interview I saw on the Blu-Ray about not wanting to kill Rambo off (specifically to avoid the irony!), but instead give him an "emotional death" in the speech. I always thought that was pretty good, but I take your point.
Revisionist history on the part of Sly. If he had committed suicide, there would have been no Rambo franchise. And that franchise was very, very good to Stallone.

From First Blood's Special Features listings at Deep Discount DVD...

Quote
Region 1
Keep Case
Widescreen - 1.85
Additional Release Material:
Audio Commentary - 1. Sylvester Stallone
Deleted Scenes - 1. Alternate Suicide Ending
Interactive Features:
Full Spectrum Warrior X-Box Game Demo
RAMBO Download - 1.Portable Media Center Versions
MetaVision: Survival Mode - 1. Activate to anhance your viewing capability of the film.

Robbed! I have the Blu-Ray, with no such extras... :suicide:

But don't get me started on Stallone. He annoys the heck out of me how he trashes his last film to promote his next. I like a lot of his movies, but I have little respect for him ever since he showed such ignorance post-Judge Dredd. I'm a massive Dredd fan so the film was a big deal. Failed, of course, for good reason. When his next film was coming out, he said he knew it would fail because it wasn't a kids movie, but it was based on a comic and comics are for kids...  ::)

Offline DJ Doena

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Re: First Blood (1982)
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2009, 10:54:56 AM »
The novel's end and the alternate movie end are not the same.

Novel end.

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