Menu Close

Don’t push it or I’ll give you a war you won’t believe

October 22, 1982. I was a couple of months shy of turning 11 and a film hit the theaters that every young White kid in America saw: First Blood. The film introduced us to the character of John Rambo, a Vietnam vet and special forces operator who got hassled one time too many and started a private war. Like a lot of kids I had a Rambo survival knife:

The handle was hollow and contained stuff like fishing line and hooks, maybe some matches and other stuff. The cap on the handle was a compass. It was a piece of shit, the blade rattled around in the handle and was made of some garbage quality steel but it sure as hell looked cool.

I saw the movie in the theater, I don’t really remember when, and then saw the two sequels as well. The 80s were the golden era of action movies, Rambo flicks and ninja movies, Die Hard, RoboCop and Terminator, in short movies with gunfire and explosions and strong masculine leads. Many also had social commentary that we missed as young boys who went to movies to see car chases, machine guns and hopefully some boobs.

First Blood holds up well as a film, I watched it not long ago and really enjoyed it even though I have seen it a bunch of times. For some reason, and I don’t remember why, I looked it up and like many films it is based on a book so I downloaded the book via the magic of torrent file sharing and read it over the weekend.

The book follows the basic story although the setting is different, taking place in a small town in Kentucky instead of a small town in Washington state. The plot is similar, Rambo comes into town, gets hassled by the small town sheriff named Teasle, gets arrested and then freaks out about being shaved from an incident in Vietnam where he was tortured. He escapes custody and flees into the mountains where he wages a guerrilla war before the climactic finale with Teasle in town.

*** Spoiler Warning ***

The big differences between the book and film are:

  • The body count. In the movie, despite all of the shooting Rambo only kills one guy, the cruel deputy named Galt that he knocks out of a helicopter with a rock. In the book, he kills Galt right away at the jail by cutting him open with his own razor. After that he ends up killing dozens of people, not so much because he has to but because he wants to. The movie makes a big deal out of Rambo not killing the deputies searching for him, in the book he just kills them all.
  • The character of Teasle. In the film we don’t learn much about him but the book fleshes him out, with lots of conversations with Rambo, Rambo’s mentor Trautman (in the book Rambo doesn’t really know him) and his own internal dialogue. As is usually the case we learn a lot more about him and his motivations rather than just “he is a bad guy” from the film, although Brian Dennehy as Teasle is quite good.
  • The ending. In the end of the film, Rambo allows himself to be arrested so he can appear in later films. In the book he and Teasle shoot each other and while Rambo is dying, Trautman shoots him in the head. Both Ramno and Teasle die, where in the film both of them live.

It’s a pretty good read even if you have seen the film and know the basics. You learn a lot about what makes Teasle tick and why Rambo didn’t want to get pushed. I give it an unqualified recommendation for a good action read.


  1. Harbinger

    “Both Ramno and Teasle die, where in the book both of them live.”

    In the film both of them live.

    I had that same knife and have it to this day, including fishing line and waterproof matches. Carried it for years in the glove compartment. They offered it for sale by mail for (I think) the lofty sum of $5 plus shipping. You clipped a coupon in the Sunday newspaper magazine and sent away for it. Wasn’t well balanced for throwing, unfortunately.

  2. Exile1981

    The blade in my knife is still firm and while it needs sharpening more often than other knives it dtill held an edge. The compass sucked though.

    Pretty sure they wete like $25.

    I gave mibe to obe of the kids when they turned 12. Likely end up with a grand kid some day.

  3. Greg

    I read the book long before I saw the movie, so the differences in plot really stuck out. Both are good on their own, but the movie couldn’t have Sly Stone getting killed, could it?
    The book also had Rambo getting in with some moonshine cooking hillbillies that of course, couldn’t fit into the Olympic rainforest locale.

  4. Filthie

    I developed a full blown knife fetish from watching that. My working knife today is a mid-tier folder that does pretty much everything but my real love is for the big artisanal fighters. The smaller camp and hunting knives are much loved too.

    I built knives for all my friends and that finally did me in. I finally have enough knives and am slowly selling them off and getting rid of them.

  5. saoirse

    Dirty porkers on the receiving end of a violent retaliation by oppressed civilians is verboten in tinsel town – unless of course it’s the holy kikes vs. the evil Natzees.
    This type of transparent celluloid just proves that shitlibs love and need the poolice just as much as their law-and-order cuck foes, and for mostly the same reasons. Can’t piss off the boys that ‘protect’ them – from us!
    The flick itself is silly and over indulgent with superman action. The sequels are even worse.

  6. Jeffrey Zoar

    Brian Dennehy was a great actor. You couldn’t help but loathe his character, because you were supposed to. Dare I say this was one of the earlier celluloid examples of the vilification of the white man in power? Granted the protagonist was also a white man, but at least he had long hair, making him more sympathetic to the (then) counterculture. These things had to go in stages. It was a few more years before they could make the protagonist a transgender mulatto with a chihuahua in his purse.

  7. Bean Dip Tray

    I liked Mad Max II-The Road Warrior and Escape From NY better.
    Remember going to the theater to see Rambo with pappy, loved the scene with the rats in the old mine and the commanding officer telling them to get a lot of body bags!
    You better watch out ’cause I’m a War Machine was a song by Kiss that year on their heaviest album Creatures Of The Night, it has been covered many times.

    • Arthur Sido

      I remember that album, I think we might have had it on vinyl. My oldest sister worked at a record store in the evenings and got a ton of free records. I Love It Loud is on my mp3 player that I listen to while working out.

  8. Bobsuruncle

    I was ten also, had that same knife, couldnt afford the real $200 Buck. Did ya’ll see the knife he’s selling now based on the final Rambo movie? I think its called the “pissinator” or some stupid name. What a scumbag. Theres a video out there of him hawking it. As if he doesnt have enough money.

  9. Colombo Salvage & Arsenal

    Got a few years on you Arthur. Leaned more to Mad Max, Alien, Escape from NY, Blade runner… Did try to make the boom arrows though and had a spectacular and thankfully bloodless heart in the throat learning experience. Different country probably doomed even then but I didn’t see it yet. The bliss of youth.

  10. Sane Max

    I read the book before the movie came out. The book is good, but different. IMO.

    Also, boobs: definitive proof we men can focus on more than one thing at a time. Just sayin’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *