When you think of Rambo, what comes to mind? I bet it’s something like the image above – an impossibly ripped Sylvester Stallone slaughtering wave after wave of bad guys. With that in mind, you’d be surprised at how low the death toll for First Blood actually is.
So just how many died in Rambo’s first cinema outing?
That’s right. One whole person, and it wasn’t even Rambo who killed him.
Thanks to three sequels that gradually got more and more violent, it’s easy to forget that First Blood was more of a tense thriller about an emotionally traumatised Vietnam veteran struggling to fit back into society.
The original script had John Rambo killing eighteen people, however Andrew G. Vajna, the co-producer, felt that having him dispatch so many would make him less sympathetic. Seeing as this is a film about a man who was trained to kill for his country only to be spat out without a second thought once the war was over, it made sense that in order for the film to work we needed to sympathise with Rambo.
It’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who gleefully shoots the absolute piss out of everyone he comes across, so the decision was made to rein it in a smidge. As a result, the only person who dies on-screen is Galt, a complete arsehole of a man who – while trying to shoot Rambo – plunges to his death from a helicopter.
You could argue that old Johnny boy was indirectly responsible for this death because he launched a rock at the chopper’s windscreen. However, it wasn’t Rambo’s fault that the pilot subsequently shat himself and jerked wildly at the controls, causing his mate to tumble out onto the rocks below.
Despite the low death toll, First Blood does have its fair share of violence. There’s a boatload of cuts and bruises and a number of bad guys get their shit royally pushed in by Stallone’s crazed veteran. Seeing as the Rambo films do eventually devolve into a series of scenes of Sly Stallone going ape shit and killing everything that moves, people forget that John Rambo was originally a sympathetic character.
He’s just a big cuddly bear, really.