Lots of Fetchland readers already subscribe to services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, or even Marvel Unlimited.

… Which begs the question: When you have access to an almost limitless plethora of entertainment options, which ones should you pick?

“What’s Free Wednesday” is a weekly Fetchland feature spotlighting something great to read or watch available on one or more entertainment services. “Free” once you’ve paid for it, if you grok 🙂

First Blood

Free on:

  • Netflix

It’s a telling fact that the movie First Blood appears incorrectly titled in your Netflix search. Also quite noteworthy is how low the rating is in Netflix, only two stars. But that’s about as accurate as the title, and for the same reason. First Blood tells the origin story of a character we all think we know, at the mere mention of his name: Rambo. That name resounds like Homer Simpson’s “Doh!” in the American unconscious. Some dumb guy with a blazing machine gun, right? Perhaps a slurring Sylvester Stallone comes to mind. But not only is his character, John Rambo, actually a brilliant strategist and tactical master with a deeply embedded inner boy scout… John’s greatest crime is wanting to get a bite to eat in a small town that disdains Vietnam vets.

First Blood delves into how John suffers not only from the PTSD that haunts his mind and heart, but also his subhuman treatment at the hands of a small town police force who hunt him for no good reason. When you see this story of how war stole the soul of a seemingly primitive man, you quickly realize he’s a genius in disguise. Trained as a Green Beret, a war hero fighting impossible odds, John survives where no other human possibly could… And then he goes ahead and kicks some ass for good measure. Brian Dennehy plays a small town sheriff with major bullying issues. He sees John Rambo, a mild man walking through his town, as a violent and imminent threat simply because he’s a Vietnam vet. The sheriff sizes him up as a vet because of John’s army jacket and longish hair. Problem is the sheriff comes to all sorts of other less accurate conclusions as well, like that because he’s a vet, John Rambo is a danger to his town. When John doesn’t leave after the sheriff’s insistence, Dennehy arrests him for vagrancy, thus sparking a ferocious momentum that pushes Rambo to test the limits of his seemingly infinite resolve to survive.

It truly becomes a matter of survival when John escapes jailhouse humiliations and the sheriff’s men transform into hunters – literally out to kill him. Rambo’s on the run in the woods of the great Northwest and the movie snowballs with such intensity it grips you and won’t let you go. The escalation of events draws you into a grueling intimacy with the ultimate survivalist. This proximity to the pain and resilience of a man willing to do whatever it takes despite impossible odds is the real gift of this movie. A pre “Rambo” John Rambo stitches up his arm wound, builds traps, and slaughters wild animals as the suspense builds and the relentless sheriff’s department hunters close in on him.

At the time he made this movie Sylvester Stallone had just established himself as the underdog character, Rocky. So, First Blood was his first character of this kind. John Rambo counts as an underdog for sure but, ultimately it was this character that established Stallone as the iconic action hero. It’s how most of us think of Stallone these days and it all started with First Blood, revealing the innate perfection of that title. One of the reasons to recommend watching First Blood is that though the Rambo movies have been rolling out for years like condoms on prom night, this was before all that. This John Rambo remains untainted by marketing schemes, action figures, and polish in general. He’s raw, unfiltered and brutally pissed off in First Blood. This movie’s the real deal.

People see the name in Netflix and it says “Rambo – First Blood” so they rate it accordingly for a hollow action figure variety flick. But the only thing hollow about First Blood is the soul of John Rambo – he left it behind in Vietnam. With an 87% fresh rating on Rottentomatoes.com, it seems safe to say that this isn’t a two star movie. In fact, it will get your blood pumping and remind you of that survivor we all hold dear and deep inside ourselves. It’s that part of you that just knows you’re going to make it out of those woods alive. Seems like a perfect time for that kind of reminder these days with the hourglass emptying and the clock ticking on our very planet. If nothing else, there are also great camping tips for a bro on the move.

–Katherine Recap