First Blood

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
First Blood Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
First, most popular Rambo movie is bloody and violent.
  • R
  • 1982
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 43 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Rambo was rewritten (for Stallone specifications) from the book's pitiless, murdering character to someone who never intentionally kills, but casualities and wounded still result from his actions. His commanding officer, Trautman, seems to be the voice of reason and the only person who understands Rambo. Authority figures of small-town sheriff and his men are irredeemable bullies who pretty much dictate the fatal flow of events. Movie addresses lack of respect for and the mental/physical treatment of Vietnam veterans upon returning home. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. In hindsight, Rambo clearly suffers from PTSD and carries with him emotional scars to match the physical scars across his chest and back, which leads to him fighting back against the bullying police officers and taking to the nearby woods. 

Violence

Rambo is tortured with knives in Vietnam flashbacks, brutalized by cops in modern-day America. Plenty of beatdowns, shoot-outs, spearings on Viet Cong-style death traps, and a memorable scene in which Rambo stitches up his own arm wound. One of Rambo's traps kills a bloodhound (off-screen). Rambo never directly kills anyone here (except an animal he hunts for food); he just wounds and maims. Police officer dies from falling out of a helicopter; his dead body is shown sprawled over the rocks below. Explosions, especially when Rambo comes out of woods and back to small town. 

Sex

Non-erotic, bare-butt shot of Rambo hosed down by police.

Language

Profanity often used. "F--k" said a few times. "S--t," "horses--t," "a--holes," "ass," "bitch," "goddammit." 

Consumerism

A mention of Soldier of Fortune magazine. Billboards for Coca-Cola, Kool Lights cigarettes. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social saloon drinking and smoking. Sheriff uses chewing tobacco. Talk of reporters drinking in the local bars. Cigar smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that First Blood is the 1982 classic action movie in which Sylvester Stallone plays a Green Beret Vietnam veteran who fights back against a bullying small-town police force. This is the first of the Rambo franchise, and while it's not as violent as the sequels, the movie nonetheless has its fair share of violent and bloody moments. While Rambo doesn't directly kill anyone, many of the police officers are injured and maimed by the booby traps Rambo sets up in the woods, including spikes to the chest. One of the officers falls to his death out of a helicopter; his dead body is shown sprawled across the rocks below. Rambo suffers brief flashbacks showing his torture and imprisonment at the hands of the Viet Cong. A cop beats Rambo with a billy club. Violent explosions occur, especially when Rambo reemerges from the woods and reenters the small town. Some profanity includes "f--k" used several times. Brief, nonsexual male nudity (buttocks) is seen when Rambo is being hosed down by the bullying cops. The sheriff uses chewing tobacco; other characters drink and smoke cigars. Now, years after its release, it's clear that the movie addresses PTSD in veterans, as well as the emotional scars they carry upon returning home, especially if the public treats them with contempt or indifference. 

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLucasConklin5 December 19, 2019

Rambo First Blood

Awesome movie!!! Not really that violent.
Adult Written byWelcome to jura... June 29, 2019

May have violence but does have some good emotion too

I think this movie isn't like other movies.Some movies just focus on the action,while others focus on emotion.but this one is a little bit of both(like ali... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymetalhead867 November 13, 2009

just the swearing.

the violence isn't too bad. only one person gets killed, but many injured. the only issue is the language. there are about 4 f--ks. but if you don't m... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byPro Guy June 15, 2020

What's the story?

FIRST BLOOD introduced John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone), a cross between G.I. Joe and Tarzan, and an icon of American film in the 1980s. We see him first as a shaggy-haired drifter trying to visit an old platoon comrade in rural Washington state -- where he learns that the man, his last surviving friend, has died of Agent Orange-related cancer. The downcast Rambo is subsequently sighted by bullying local cops, and is harassed and arrested for vagrancy. When the small-town lawmen brutalize him in the town jail, flashbacks to Rambo's wartime torture by Viet Cong push the well-trained Green Beret back into full combat mode and instincts. Escaping into the wilderness, he fights back using guerilla weapons and tactics. Ultimately, he makes one-man war on the entire town with captured National Guard firepower.

Is it any good?

This '80s classic is a crude but often effective actioner. Even if its worthwhile themes about the country's treatment of its soldiers kind of get lost in the fiery mayhem and the now-classic pose of the Rocky leading man brandishing enormous rifles and bandoliers.

The problem-plagued production shot alternate endings, one in which Rambo died, another in which he didn't. Audience reaction to First Blood made the filmmakers take the softer option -- and made the producers very wealthy when the film and its sequels became a hit. At least Rambo got to deliver a powerful climactic monologue (the only time he speaks at length) that puts into words the vet's feelings of anger and betrayal. And that reminds us that Stallone could be a fine actor, when not caricaturing himself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between the military and the civilian mindsets in First Blood, and how Rambo was educated by the Army: "When in doubt, kill."

  • You can also discuss the shabby treatment of American Vietnam veterans compared to that of other war vets, and how Hollywood's portrayals of those veterans -- as either psychos or super commandos -- contributed to the problem.

  • Families can also talk about whether the amount of violence in the movie is fitting, given its subject matter. Are there times when violence needs to be graphic to get a filmmaker's point across? Why or why not?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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