The Daily Cup 35 First Blood

Welcome to The Daily Cup a movie blog/writing project by Kyle B. Dekker, presented by Hot Chocolate Media. You can read series concept here. The basic rules, Kyle must watch 365 movies in 2018 and write about all of them. 292 of them have to be movies he's never seen before. Thanks for reading.

Revisiting a movie over a decade after your first viewing is always interesting. I vaguely remember watching First Blood (1982), but don’t remember many details about it. Culturally the character Rambo has been lampooned and goofed at the example of the over the top action character he became in the sequel films. Viewed on its own without the cultural baggage of how we see Sylvester Stallone, and it stands out a very good movie about how we treat the less fortunate members of our society.

Stallone stars as John Rambo, a homeless military vet who is brutalized by a bunch of backwater redneck cops led by Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy). John Rambo escapes from the city jail and heads to the nearby woods. The rest of the film is John Rambo and his Green Beret special forces skills waging a one man war against the local police and National Guard. The bumbling yokels are no match for his skill and the event leads to massive destruction and even one death. In the end John Rambo turns himself in, and Sheriff Teasle is left in the remains of the town he helped destroy with his actions.

The film has a strong message about the treatment of US military vets returning from Vietnam. There has been a long national narrative that these veterans were treated poorly and spit upon by protesters and more. Even though there isn’t any recording incident of this actually happening (the spitting). Yes the Vietnam War is associated with massive war protests, but many veterans were at the heart of that. The protest was of the government waging an unjustified war that led to the destruction of many lives. John Rambo shows many signs of PTSD in the film, showing he is another victim of the war, a walking wounded without any visible wounds. In a roundabout way the film calls out how pointlessly destructive an unnecessary war is. The mini war between Rambo and Sheriff Teasle accomplishes nothing more than making both the town and John Rambo’s life worse (he’s arrested and presumably on is way to jail).

The performances of the two main character is what really drives this film. Stallone is vulnerable, and damaged. He’s the only man in his unit left alive, and you and tell it haunts him. I wish we got to see more of this Stallone before he became a big star and started playing caricatures of himself rather than characters in movies. This is one of Stallone’s best performances, and you really feel the pain, conflict, and fear of a veteran who has had society, and the country he loves turn on him. Brian Dennehy is marvelously great as the bad guy. He wants to be good, but also can’t be shown up by the vagrant that has the nerve to walk into his town. His stubbornness and desire to be the “good guy” leads to death and destruction. A great send up of the issues a small man in a position of power can do.

Look how sad Stallone is here. 

Look how sad Stallone is here. 

This is a really great film, it’s best watched without thinking about the Rambo films and the Stallone that follows. First Blood is a morality tale about the consequences of creating people for war, then discarding them and letting society treat them poorly. This film is still socially relevant today. Even 35 years after the film came out, we are still fighting pointless wars, destroying lives, and creating homeless veterans.


Movies new to me watched: 26/292

Other movies: 9/73

Total movies watched: 35/365

Have your own thoughts or opinions on this movie? Comment below or contact Kyle at or on Twitter at @kbdekker.