It was actually based on a 1972 novel of the same name.
John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) is a former member of the United States Special Forces(In the movie it says Green Berets). He was awarded the Medal of Honor for service in the Vietnam War. It takes place in December 1981. He is searching for one of his friends, Delmare Berry and he soon learns that his friend is dead from cancer due to an overexposure to the chemical Agent Orange. Then it cuts to a scene showing him entering a town called Hope (it's actually Hope, British Columbia). With his long hair and military dress, he is immediately spotted by the town's suspicious sheriff Will Teasle (Brian Dennehy). He picks up Rambo and drives him outside of town but then when he sees Rambo coming back, he arrests him. When the sheriff gives him a pat down, he finds a large hunting knife in a holster on his ankle.
When Rambo tries to convince them he didn't mean to kill anyone, they don't listen. Teasle leads his deputies into the woods to look for him. Since they are inexperienced and complaining because they overheard radio chatter about Rambo's status as a war hero, he quickly disables the small team using guerilla tactics and booby traps. This wounds them but not kills them. He confronts Teasle and puts a knife to his throat and says "Don't push it... or I'll give you a war you won't believe. Let it go!" and he disappears into the woods. Nearby, a base camp is set up and the Nat'l Guard is called in, along with Special Forces Colonel Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who says he is responsible for training Rambo. He assures the sheriff that it would be safer to let Rambo go until things calm down.
Eventually Rambo is cornered by the Nat'l Guard in a mine entrance. The stupid young recruit fires an M72 LAW rocket at him, collapsing the entrance and trapping him. They all think Rambo is dead, but he has escaped into the tunnels of the mine. He finds some old fuel and makes a homemade torch. After navigating through hip deep water and rats, he uses the torch to find an escape. He hijacks a passing M135 2.5 ton cargo truck and drives away, but arouses suspicion when he drives a different way than the other trucks. He is chased by police and he rams the car into an abandoned car which blows up and overturns it, killing the 2 occupants. Later on, he returns to town, at night, crashing the truck into a gas station. He blocks the highway to anyone in pursuit by igniting the spilled fuel and destroying the stolen truck. He is now armed with an M60 machine gun, he destroys a sporting goods store and other businesses in an attempt to confuse Teasle and identify his position before seeing him on the roof of the police department.
Did You Know?
-This movie pushed back filming of Rocky III
-The name of the sporting goods store he blows up is called The Outpost
-The wooden stakes that Rambo uses to injure Deputy Balford are called Punji stakes. These were used alot by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War to injure enemies
-Despite the fact the air and water temperatures during filming were extremely cold, and Stallone had on a tank top during most of the movie, he did not get sick until someone offered him a shot of brandy
- Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo
- Richard Crenna as Colonel Sam Trautman
- Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Will Teasle
- Bill McKinney as State Police Capt. Dave Kern
- Jack Starrett as Deputy Sgt. Arthur Galt
- Michael Talbott as Deputy Balford
- Chris Mulkey as Deputy Ward
- John McLiam as Orval the Dog Man
- Alf Humphreys as Deputy Lester
- David Caruso as Deputy Mitch
- David Crowley as Shingleton
- Don MacKay as Preston