Sylvester Stallone, First Blood
Credit: Rambo: Everett Collection

It’s easy to dismiss these Sylvester Stallone flicks as corny relics of Reagan’s ’80s. But, just like the Rockys, which also got sillier as they went on, they started with a real-deal piece of quality cinema. First Blood plays like an X-Files episode (it was even shot in the misty glades of Vancouver) in which the alien is a Vietnam vet, reintroduced to a society that is afraid of him. Stallone does arguably the best acting of his career as John Rambo; he’s got a breakdown scene that’ll send shivers on their way.

Rambo: First Blood Part II may be an overblown message movie, but it moves (thanks to James Cameron’s screenplay) like a bat out of hell. Rambo III is bad, but in the aftermath of 9/11, it’s an interesting bad, as Rambo fights along with the Afghan holy warriors to repel the mad Russians. One of the many docs in this set — which also has a trio of commentaries from writers and directors — details America’s role in Afghanistan and how Rambo III chose to portray with sympathy an extremist culture that is now seen as deserving of none.

First Blood
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