Thursday, June 19, 2008

FIRST BLOOD: 5.0 out of 5 stars

You want some advice? Get a haircut and take a bath. You wouldn't get hassled so much.,
June 19, 2008

Sid the Elf has finally gotten around to reviewing First Blood. We figured that it was time to finish off the Rambo series. This movie is that rare breed of B. It's actually a good flick, but there's enough funny stuff/tough one-liners/explosions to make it possibly B. Then when you consider that Sly is the star, all bets are off. If he's in the movie, it's probably B with few noted exceptions. First Blood was actually a pretty assertive film in its time. It dealt heavily with the problem of soldiers returning from Vietnam. And, clearly, in the case of John J. Rambo it was a BIG problem. Sid has seen this movie roughly 10 times over the years, and it never lets up on the laughs. In fact, it's like a fine wine that gets better with age. First Blood stars the one and only Sly Stallone; if you don't know that, shame on you--really. It also stars Richard Crenna as Col. Trautman, Brian "Big Tom Callahan" Dennehy as the sheriff, David Caruso Deputy Mitch--seriously, and Dr. Phil as Deputy Sgt. Arthur Galt. Sid laughs over 600 times during a routine Rambo viewing, and could probably write a 30 page essay on the film but we will try to keep it manageable.

First Blood starts with Rambo walking along a country road in the Pacific Northwest. He is going to visit the last surviving member, other than himself, of his old unit from 'Nam. However, upon arrival at his comrade's house, Rambo learns that he died of cancer. This was a thinly veiled allusion to Agent Orange and other chemicals that 'Nam soldiers were exposed to, causing many illnesses. So, a devastated Rambo continues ambling down the road with his worldly possessions on his shoulder and his green Army jacket on his back. He's walking not two minutes when he is spotted by the sheriff. Oh man, it might not seem like it, but here's where the film gets interesting. Just on sight, Big Tom loathes Rambo. He's an old-school sheriff who wants no part of a greasy goomba drifter setting up in his town, and he pretty much says so. The title of this wonderful review is a direct quote from Big Tom himself to Rambo. Anyway, Rambo defies the sheriff, and gets himself thrown in jail in a must-see sequence. Just hilarious. While in jail, the deputies decide to mess with Rambo and they start to dry-shave him. Of course, this sends Rambo into a gargantuan 'Nam flashback. So he goes berserk, catches a deputy with the front, beats them all down and leaves the jail; but not before taking his confiscated knife back from the station. Sid's favorite part of the movie comes here, when Rambo needs transportation. He clotheslines some guy off his motorcycle then steals it and rides it into the woods. Hilarious. The cops give chase, but can't catch him. The sheriff's car ends up getting overturned, but he continues to give chase. He and his top deputy, Dr. Phil--in a helicopter-- have Rambo cornered and his only choice is to rappel down the side of a cliff. But, as he's hanging there, Dr. Phil decides to go against orders and take a couple of shots at the fugitive. Rambo then decides to jump from the cliff in the famous scene where Stallone really broke his ribs. While he's on the ground, he throws a big rock at the helicopter breaking its windshield. This causes the helicopter to bank hard, flinging Dr. Phil from the open door. He, obviously, falls to his death. We then find out that Rambo is a former Green Beret and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. And, just like that, things take a turn. Rambo picks off like 2 more deputies, and gets a hold of the sheriff. He holds the hunting knife to Big Tom's throat in the transcendent "I'm the law out here. I could have killed you. Let it go" scene which leaves Big Tom sitting against a tree weeping like a little girl. Then Rambo's former mentor, Col. Trautman visits the scene, and he says things to Big Tom like, "I didn't come here to rescue Rambo from you, I came to rescue you from Rambo." Yikes. If it's me, I'm welcoming the staties and the National Guard with open arms. But, not Big Tom. He's pissed they're there. These guys are real yahoos, though. This, of course, includes the infamous "Bullseye!"/Kurt Rambis guy. Anyway, these yamsticks decide to shoot a rocket launcher into the cave where Rambo's hiding out. Then they just start celebrating, kicked off by Kurt Rambis. They finally go into the cave...and no Rambo. Nope, he's not dead in the cave. He's hijacking an Army cargo truck, swiping from it a huge M-16 and the famous ammo belt he throws around his shoulder.

Here's where things get crazy. And we start to see that Rambo is definitely crazy. Rambo decides to go back into town and just demolish everything. He crashes the Army truck into the pumps at a gas station, then sets fire to the trail of gas, causing one of the best explosions in action movie history. The gas pumps, the Army truck, and all the cars in the adjoining dealership all explode. Next, Rambo sets a gunpowder trail leading to a huge pile of ammo in a gun shop; so when he shot the gunpowder, explosions and rounds were going off like crazy. He shoots like 8 transformers and kills all the power in town so he could effectively locate the sheriff. He finally sees Sheriff Teasle on the roof of the police station, so Rambo goes into the empty station and shoots Big Tom through the ceiling. You know where it's going. Ouch. Then the sheriff falls through the ceiling and is laying there with Rambo's M-16 trained on him. But, at the last second Col. Trautman comes in and stops Rambo from killing Big Tom. Of course, they then have a Good Will Hunting "It's not your fault," moment. But, instead of it being poignant and well-acted, it's just completely forced and hilarious. Stallone was even doing his Rambo lines in the Rocky voice. It was great. Sid isn't sure if old Sly has ever been worse than in that final First Blood scene, and that's saying something. If you've never seen the awful ending to Rambo, or maybe just don't remember it, here's a gift from Sid to you.

First Blood is definitely a Sid favorite. So, we had to give it the full show with Drive-In Totals and everything.

1 clotheslined motorcycle driver

1 Army cargo truck-jacking

3 Dead dogs courtesy of John J. Rambo

1 cameo by Kurt Rambis

6 'Nam flashbacks

1 Rat attack

37 hard-ass one-liners by Big Tom Callahan

1 blown up sporting goods store

1 wrecked police station

4 people thrown/crashing through windows

3 awesome explosions

1 incoherent ending speech by Rambo

93 Rambo kills...

...and 1 woefully terrific Frank Stallone classic tune gracing the closing credits

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