Rambo: Everett Collection
Marc Bernardin
May 31, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

First Blood

Current Status
In Season
Richard Crenna, Sylvester Stallone, Brian Dennehy

We gave it a B+

It’s easy to dismiss these Sylvester Stallone flicks as corny relics of Reagan’s ’80s. But, just like the Rockys, which also got sillier as they went on, they started with a real-deal piece of quality cinema. First Blood plays like an X-Files episode (it was even shot in the misty glades of Vancouver) in which the alien is a Vietnam vet, reintroduced to a society that is afraid of him. Stallone does arguably the best acting of his career as John Rambo; he’s got a breakdown scene that’ll send shivers on their way.

Rambo: First Blood Part II may be an overblown message movie, but it moves (thanks to James Cameron’s screenplay) like a bat out of hell. Rambo III is bad, but in the aftermath of 9/11, it’s an interesting bad, as Rambo fights along with the Afghan holy warriors to repel the mad Russians. One of the many docs in this set — which also has a trio of commentaries from writers and directors — details America’s role in Afghanistan and how Rambo III chose to portray with sympathy an extremist culture that is now seen as deserving of none.

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