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An iconic franchise-launcher unrecognizable from its sequels hunkers down on streaming

One of these things is not like the other.

first blood
via Orion Pictures

Looking at how the sequels racked up a body count that literally ran into the hundreds, it’s incredibly easy to forget that the Rambo franchise initially launched with a fairly low-key thriller that was almost nothing like its successors at all.

Sylvester Stallone’s traumatized Vietnam veteran is only responsible for the death of one character in the entire 93-minute running time of First Blood, and that’s the unlucky dude that falls out of a helicopter and plunges to his peril after trying to take a potshot at the tortured protagonist, who throws a rock in retaliation.

Rambo First Blood

Somewhere along the line, though, it was decided that both the leading man and the property itself had to get a lot beefier in more ways than one, with Sly and his bulging biceps going on to headline a further four sequels that would significantly up the ante in terms of blood, bullets, and octane.

It was definitely the right call from a commercial perspective after the five films combined to earn in excess of $800 million at the box office, but neither First Blood Part II, Rambo III, Rambo, or Last Blood managed to come close to recapturing the acclaim that greeted director Ted Kotcheff’s haunting, atmospheric opener.

Rambo may have gotten more popular, but it never got any better, which could by why First Blood is the only one making a splash on streaming this week. As per FlixPatrol, the introduction of the red headband enthusiast has hunkered down on the iTunes Top 10 in multiple countries, 40 years on from debuting a new cinematic icon.

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Scott Campbell

News, reviews, interviews. To paraphrase Keanu Reeves; Words. Lots of words.