Jan 17, 2011

1980s Cinema: First Blood

The first of many, many, many 1980s movies that I will be watching for the first time.

Title: First Blood
Year Released: 1982
Genre: Action
Director: Ted Kotcheff (Weekend at Bernie's)
Stars: Sylvestor Stallone, Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna
Story: A mentally unstable Vietnam war vet, when abused with a small town's police force, begins a one man war with it. (IMDB)

My Take: It wasn't nearly as cheesy as I was expecting. (Though the sound effects were horrendous.) Anything with Sylvestor Stallone has a certain goofiness to it, but it wasn't distracting -- maybe because Stallone had more grunts than actual lines throughout the film. I think the action was probably typical for 1980s movies. While the stunts were maybe less "clean" than today's action flicks, it was nice to watch action sequences that didn't consist of 100 cuts made every few seconds. Stallone was believable as a disturbed vet and Dennehy worked well as his antagonist. I liked Commando and Predator much more -- I've always been a Schwarzenneger guy.

Favorite Lines:
Teasle: Are you telling me that 200 of our men against your boy is a no-win situation for us?
Trautman: You send that many, don't forget one thing.
Teasle: What?
Trautman: A good supply of body bags.

Surprise: A super young David Caruso as Mitch, the rookie deputy.

The Good: A freeze frame ending! Huzzah!
The Bad: The ending was way too anticlimactic.
The Eighties: Killer stereotypical soundtrack.


Trike said...

I saw First Blood in the theatres and was just blown away. The story is simple but not simplistic. There are deep undercurrents to the character of John Rambo which aren't fully understood until the ending; it's almost a twist ending, really, but Rambo serves as a mouthpiece for all the mistreated and damaged Vietnam vets (like our cousin Eugene) and I think it was one of the more important turning points in the American attitude towards soldiers. As a country, we collectively went from despising them as villains to worshiping them as heroes, the pendulum swinging all the way back, I think
in great part due to First Blood.

The interesting thing about Stallone is that he makes these really brilliant movies... and then goes on to parody himself in the sequels before anyone else can. Rocky and Rambo became caricatures at his hands, which is weird considering how amazing the first films in those series are.

First Blood is an interesting film in that it lives in two cinematic eras. On the one hand it's a forerunner of the 80s/90s action films which really got kick-started with Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, yet it still has that unique 70s character-centric sensibility typified by Taxi Driver and Dog Day Afternoon.

James said...

Interesting points. I don't think I gave this movie a fair shake because the whole time I was waiting for war paint and flaming arrows. My expectations were definitely skewed by my recollections of the marketing of the two follow up movies. Of course subjects like Vietnam have a completely different meaning to someone my age.

I started to watch it again with Stallone's commentary. His view of the movie he was acting in was completely different from what I originally thought I was viewing.