STARRING: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Bill McKinney, Jack Starrett, Michael Talbott, Chris Mulkey, John McLiam, Alf Humphreys, David Caruso, David L. Crowley and Don McKay
EARNED (Worldwide): $125.2m
A Vietnam Veteran uses his combat skills against the lawman of a small town when they arrest and abuse him.
John Rambo is a former United States Special Forces soldier who returns from the war in Vietnam where he won the Congressional Medal of Honor, but his time in Vietnam still haunts him. As he walks through Hope, Washington where he arrives to locate an old comrade only to learn that he’s passed away, he ends up being guided out of town by the local Sheriff William Teasel who insults Rambo throughout the small amount of time getting him out of there. Rambo doesn’t take kindly to the insults and ends up being arrested, then beaten up by one of the deputies at the county jail and when being cleaned, he escapes and goes on a rampage through the forest as they hunt him down like an animal. Rambo’s commanding officer Colonel Samuel Trautman arrives in the scene to save both the Sheriff’s department and John Rambo before the situation gets out of hand.
John Rambo will often be remembered as the one man army character that was an icon of action cinema in the 80’s, you forget almost just how really good the original film was and how sad the impact of Stallone’s monologue in the final act is. Granted they did leave Teasel’s instant dislike of Rambo and the reasoning behind it on the cutting room floor (it literally comes out of nowhere if you watch the film for the first time) as to why he acts towards Rambo this way and the treatment he receives from the police force that results in the one man army in the forest being shown to the audience in all his glory. It subtlety hints at the Post Traumatic Stress that he’s suffering, explaining why he is the way he is as an almost silent presence and it leads to the monologue at the end that I’m sure would’ve come left field at the time the film came out in comparison to other action films at the time but it is why I appreciate it more. Stallone is great and a commanding presence as John Rambo, Richard Crenna is solid in the small screen time he has as Rambo’s old Colonel Sam Trautman and Brian Dennehy as Sheriff William Teasel is a great performance playing such an asshole. The shots of the action sequences in the forest are terrifically done as it is also with the lighting aspect in the town ‘showdown’ sequence in the final act. An action film with a message behind it that may be lost in the shuffle of the Rambo sequels.
FAVOURITE SCENE: John Rambo starts taking out the police one by one until he finally comes to face to face with Teasel and threatens that he will kill him if he pursues.
FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘I could have killed ’em all, I could’ve killed you. In town you’re the law, out here it’s me. Don’t push it! Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe. Let it go. Let it go!’ – Rambo
DID YOU KNOW?: The large piece of rotten canvas that Rambo finds in the woods and cuts into a makeshift coat, was in fact not a movie prop, but a real piece of rotten canvas found by the film crew during the movie’s production. Since there was only one piece, Sylvester Stallone joked about how the canvas became a treasured prop on the set. After filming ended, Stallone kept the rotten canvas and still has it in his possession to this very day.