First Blood

by David Morrell

“If I thought there was the slightest chance of your beating them, I’d gladly tell you to keep on the move. But I know you can’t get away. Believe me. I know it. Please. While you still can, give up and get out of this alive. There’s nothing you can do.”
“Watch me.”

A drifter wanders into a remote town and is immediately noticed by the Chief of Police, Teasle, who takes it upon himself to keep his town quiet and escort the drifter out. Meanwhile the drifter, Rambo, has felt mistreated in the last fifteen towns he has visited and has finally had enough of being run out on a rail. Both are ex-military with Teasle honored for service in the Korean War and Rambo for Vietnam. The result is a battle between two war machines with the rest of the world in the way.

First, Rambo is not the sympathetic character from the movie, and Chief Teasle is not the pig-headed, my way or no way cop from the movie either. They are both sympathetic, they are both hard-headed, and they are both responsible for the fallout that cuts a good deal deeper than the film. It’s a spectacular fight, ranging from the town to remote wilderness, and the story is told from both perspectives so we get to see everything unfold from the alternating points of view of our two main characters.

Second, the story had to change for film. In the U.S. we are not much of a grey-area viewing public, and though the rules seems to loosen a bit in the rest of the world it probably wouldn’t play out too well anywhere else either. There is no hero, and there is no bad guy. Or rather, there are two of each. It’s not clear who to root for so audiences would be confused. Each of these men carries attributes we can identify with and envy, while each also carries the personality that allows an extended and deadly confrontation like this to occur.

Finally, while we have a respect for the film and it’s iconic portrayal of the 80’s action hero, this book is a far better story. Here we have balance, with a reality that exists right outside of our doors. It concerns people that really walk the world and deal with feelings we all feel, at least when pushed to the limit, but these guys are machines of destruction.

As you’ve heard the original end of the story differs from the film. This one’s better; this one makes a lot of sense. It’s is a fast, action packed, ultra-violent read that will be over before you know it, and you’ll be out of breath and gasping.

Shamelessly borrowing an excellent line because it’s never seen it more applicable, this is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

5 stars

 

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