In First Blood Sylvester Stallone plays to his strengths as another stoic every man who reverts to his survivalist training when persecuted by an arrogant and egotistical small town sheriff.
There’s no point in over-intellectualising it, this is no analogy or “message” about the treatment of American soldiers in the aftermath of Vietnam; First Blood is merely a tautly directed and well executed action thriller. Brian Dennehy is great as the hick sheriff who lets his ego stand in the way of justice and the woodland scenes in which Rambo is hunted by the police and national guard are very well done indeed. Unfortunately it does falter at the last hurdle, as the climax in which he single-handedly attacks the town stretches both your credulity and sympathy.
The closing speech is also mawkish and Richard Crenna’s absurd stereotype trots out cliche after cliche, but as a whole it’s far superior to the ridiculous cartoon flag-waver the Rambo franchise became.