Ted Kotcheff’s 1982 thriller, First Blood, portrays the psychological difficulties that the protagonist, John Rambo (played by Sylvester Stallone) faces upon his return to the United States from his tour in the Vietnam War. While Rambo clearly indicates the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (although it is never validated in the film) – specifically through his short-fused temper that leads to his arrest in Washington – the violent nature that grows within his character throughout the film’s progression is resultant of the psychological torment from his service in the war. As his mental instability is only made increasingly worse from the beatings and further torment he is subjected to by the crooked police while under arrest, he has a psychological breakdown and escapes from the holding cell while the facility is being cleaned. As Rambo is resultantly forced to flee to the forest for cover, his militaristic instincts kick in, resulting in a violent rampage that he engages in throughout the forest.
Fundamentally, the violence depicted within this film is of a different nature than usually seen in the non-war movies of the 1980s. While, yes, Rambo’s violent actions are induced by the psychological instability that resulted from his service in the war; because the film solely takes place inside the United States, an elemental differentiation is made. As Rambo engages in a very warrior-like style of violence – specifically when he is seen knifing the police officers searching for him in the forest – the psychological trauma stemming from his involvement in the Vietnam War (which is actualized by the Washington police officers while they are torturing him) instinctively forces him to revert back to his violent tendencies as a soldier.
Rambo compilation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbhz7zykE9Q
Overall, I would recommend this film greatly. Specifically, because it illustrates a form of violence that is seen only minimally in the motion pictures of the 1980s, it resultantly provides one with a solid representation of this distinctive aspect of violence, which is ever so present in the films of this decade.