FIRST BLOOD
1982, Rialto, 93 min, Dir: Ted Kotcheff

“It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win!” Sylvester Stallone created another screen icon in John Rambo, a Vietnam vet driven to violence in this box office hit. His bravura performance is balanced by that of Brian Dennehy as the small-town sheriff who doesn’t know what he’s dealing with, and Richard Crenna as the Special Forces colonel who does. Though the film doesn’t skimp on action, Kotcheff’s equal emphasis on character makes FIRST BLOOD the best of the Rambo series.


CREED
2015, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/New Line Cinema/Warner Bros., 133 min, USA, Dir: Ryan Coogler

Writer-director Ryan Coogler reunites with FRUITVALE STATION star Michael B. Jordan for the latest round of the beloved ROCKY saga. Adonis Johnson (Jordan) wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, boxer Apollo Creed, and seeks out former champ Rocky Balboa (Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone) to show him the ropes. Though this crowd-pleaser has some of the best fight choreography you’ve ever seen, it’s the courageous central characters that give CREED such a powerful punch. With a screenplay written by Coogler and Aaron Covington, the film also stars Tessa Thompson and Phylicia Rashad.


THE LORD’S OF FLATBUSH
1974, Sony Repertory, 86 min, USA, Dir: Martin Davidson, Stephen Verona

This low-budget coming-of-age drama about four guys in a Brooklyn street gang offers a much grittier, more realistic look at life in the 1950s than AMERICAN GRAFFITI. As their days of hanging out at the pool hall, hitting on local girls and battling rivals draws to a close, friends Chico, Stanley, Butchey and Wimpy approach adulthood with varying degrees of reluctance. The central quartet features a pair of actors on the brink of superstardom: Sylvester Stallone was two years away from ROCKY, and Henry Winkler was just about to don a leather jacket as Fonzie in TV’s “Happy Days.” With Susan Blakely.


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