First Blood introduced cinema audiences to John Rambo for the first time and the face of cinema was changed. An adaptation of David Morrell’s tense novel, Ted Kotcheff’s 1982 film was a cinematic gut punch, a energetic adventure tale with a conflicted protagonist. Like Rocky before it, Rambo would become one of Sylvester Stallone’s trademark roles and he would go on to play the character another four times.
First Blood sees Vietnam veteran Rambo haunted through the wilderness outside the sleepy town of Hope by Teasle (Brian Dennehey), the town’s gruff sheriff. The movie hits the ground running and it covers a lot in a relatively slight 93 minute running time. The film uses the bare bones of David Morrell’s book, but it removes much of the character and motivation. Rambo isn’t much of a killer in the film, but he’s got a high body count in the novel. Another major difference is that Rambo dies at the end of the novel – something that would have limited the potential for sequels on the big screen.
This image shows Sylvester Stallone taking a break on the set of First Blood. The 1982 release grossed $47 million at the US box office and $78 million internationally for a $125 million global total.