A Brief Look: Ken Taylor’s ‘First Blood’

In 1982 Sylvester Stallone starred in the film ‘First Blood as John Rambo, a Vietnam vet haunted by the war. It’s a great character study wrapped inside of a taut action film. This was before the character of Rambo became a super hero and lost his humanity. The sequels betrayed the original as John Rambo became a Hollywood caricature of a great cinematic character.

Recently Australian illustrator Ken Taylor released his ‘First Blood’ poster through the Alamo Drafthouse’s Mondo Gallery. Taylor’s version of Rambo captures the serious and tense tone of that first film. John Rambo, a man fresh from war, a prisoner of war back home — but with no home and with nowhere to go.

Taylor’s poster gives us a strong sense of the story, of Rambo’s internal and external struggle.

'First Blood' by Ken Tayor

‘First Blood’ by Ken Taylor

Stallone had a cold calmness in his performance as an ex-soldier and prisoner of war lost in the suburban landscape of America. Under that stone calm though was a haunted pain, an anger, and hidden deep below all of that was a skilled killer.

In this poster Stallone is the mountain — unmoving. Descending on him is the sheriff’s posse, guns ready to kill. Dogs, blood-thirsty. What they don’t realize is that the target they’ve chosen is the solid stone of John Rambo, and they’re not chasing him but are actually trapped beneath him. He will win. He doesn’t want to have to fight anymore, but the fight is still in him.

Detail of Ken Taylor's 'First Blood' poster (image credit from Mondo)

Detail of Ken Taylor’s ‘First Blood’ poster (image credit from Mondo)

Detail of Ken Taylor's 'First Blood' poster (image credit from Mondo)

Detail of Ken Taylor’s ‘First Blood’ poster (image credit from Mondo)

It’s wonderful to see an expertly crafted piece of art that can tell a story with such deft skill. I would like to think that you don’t have to be a fan of the film to see something great in this work.

For more of Ken Taylor’s work check out his site HERE.

Is Mondo online? Heck yeah it is! HERE.

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