First Blood Movie Poster Image

First Blood

First and most popular Rambo; and yes, bloody.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Rambo was rewritten (for Stallone specifications) from the book's pitiless, murdering character to someone who never intentionally kills, but causalities 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, but the authority figures of the small-town sheriff and his men are irredeemable bullies who pretty much dictate the fatal flow of events.

Violence

Rambo is tortured with knives in Vietnam flashbacks, brutalized by cops in modern-day America. Plenty of beat-downs, shootouts, 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.

Sex

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

Language

Plenty of "s--t," "hell," "damn," and "f--k."

Consumerism

A mention of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social saloon drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, the most successful of the movies featuring the Rambo character, has many moments of violent bloodshed (including the hero sewing his own gashed arm shut) and foul language. Rambo's incredible guerilla survival skills have special appeal for young fans, but there's lots of not-to-be imitated stuntwork.

What's the story?

FIRST BLOOD introduced to movies the John Rambo character, a cross between G.I. Joe and Tarzan, and a virtual 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 the man, his last surviving friend, has died of Agent Orange-related cancer. The downcast Rambo is subsequently sighted by bullying local cops, 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?

QUALITY

First Blood 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 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 reminds us that Stallone could be a fine actor, when not caricaturing himself.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the difference between the military and the civilian mindsets in the movie, 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 other war vets, and how Hollywood's portrayals of them -- either psychos or super-commandos -- contributed to the problem.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 22, 1982
DVD/Streaming release date:November 23, 2004
Cast:Brian Dennehy, David Caruso, Richard Crenna, Sylvester Stallone
Director:Ted Kotcheff
Studio:Artisan Entertainment
Genre:Action/Adventure
Run time:97 minutes
MPAA rating:R

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Adult Written byChris LP April 9, 2008

This is R-rated in 1982, but PG-13 level today

This is a film protesting wars and shows how war has a big psychological impact on the soldiers. To my surprise this was the first action movie I've ever seen (and my favorite genre is action) that had an tender, emotional ending that is heart wrenching rather than a blow 'em up ending that is gut wrenching.
Teen, 13 years old Written byJustin1312 July 31, 2014

ITS NEVER OVER!

This movie is not like the other Rambo movies, this one has Rambo getting arrested by a town sherif for a bad reason, getting abused, escaping, and having a war with the cops where only one dies. The movie has a bit of swearing with a couple F-bombs, Typical action violence that is not very gory at all, and can be quite emotional at times. The movie has good characters and dialogue with just enough action that isn't too grisly to keep you entertained. Kids 11 and up should be able to handle this movie alright. The most bloodiest scene is when John has a flashback to Vietnam where a Viet-cong soldier slices at his chest with a knife, but that's as far as it goes.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old August 6, 2010

Good for Action-lovers

A decent movie. Lots of entertaining action. I would recommend this to action lovers. Suggested MPAA rating: R for strong violence including some torture, language and brief partial nudity.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing