First Blood

This 1985 action film hangs on an interesting reversal, taking the crazed-killer-in-the-woods theme from Friday the 13th and turning it inside out—the psychopath is now our hero, a maladjusted ex-Green Beret played by Sylvester Stallone. The director, Ted Kotcheff, does a good job with the violence and suspense, working well with the widescreen format, and he seems fully aware of the dark, subversive implications of the material, even if the screenplay doesn't allow him to resolve them successfully. The chief drawback is a preening, doe-eyed Stallone, whose insistence on playing for pathos drains much of the effective ambiguity from his character. With Brian Dennehy (quite good) and Richard Crenna. R, 97 min.

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