In honor of Friday's release of The Expendables, we're taking a week-long look at the action films of Sir Sylvester Stallone -- which is to say we're skipping his comedies. Out of respect.
Title: First Blood
Setting: A small town in Washington
Our hero: John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a super-muscular former Green Beret and POW from the Vietnam War who's on shaky mental ground to begin with. He goes to find his old buddy Delmore Barry, but learns that Delmore died from Agent Orange-related cancer. Then Rambo wanders the area aimlessly until he meets...
Our villain/s: Sheriff Teasle (Brian Dennehy), who hassles Rambo for looking like a scummy drifter and then arrests him for having an unlicensed weapon on his person, and his crew of nasty police force cronies who taunt and beat up Rambo once he's in custody. The stakes: Rambo's freedom. Or justice. Or revenge. It's unclear. Who cares?
How long until our first confrontation? Around the 16 minute mark, one of the policemen is about to dry shave our hero when Rambo flashes back to being sliced and diced as a POW and flips out. He manages to shake off the officer who is holding him back with a baton to the neck, the would-be barber, and a young David Caruso, fights his way through the station, and heads to the woods.
Line of dialogue that nails it: "They drew first blood." There are other lines that seem notable but are garbled by Rambo's sobbing.
Coolest display of might: It's hard to say, but I'll go with when he crashes into a gas station and sets fire to the leaking gas pumps with a Zippo, blowing up the gas station and the army truck he was driving.
Oddest lack of consistency: Consistency? There's hardly a story.
Moral of the story: Don't f*ck with Vietnam vets.
Stallone Action Scale: This is the Stallone flick to see if you want action. He dangles from the side of a cliff, sews up his own wound, runs around wearing shrubbery and crawling through rat-filled sewers, blows up a few buildings, and basically tears the town to pieces -- all while wearing a stylish leather thong around his head.