Kyle Hanson is an emotionally bruised veteran of the Vietnam War and finds himself unable to rejoin mainstream society. While stopping in a small town to get some food, local bullies begin harassing him, a situation that culminates in a fight, with Hanson fleeing afterwards. Relying on his special forces training, he manages to get away from pursuing deputies, only to become stranded in the forest and hunted by the locals. One lone woman, Jenny Bellows, is willing to lend him a hand. Jenny is the daughter-in-law of the richest man in town, and her husband is believed to have been killed in action during the war. This lends her some measure of sympathy towards Hanson, and she takes every opportunity to help him evade the local townspeople. Through his time with Jenny, the withdrawn Hanson also slowly begins to heal emotionally.
Continued attempts by the local bullies & police to capture Hanson result in him claiming a small island in the river, covering it with all manner of traps & obstacles. After several bloody confrontations, it is decided by Jenny's father-in-law that the pursuit will stop, and that Hanson (who has become somewhat of a surrogate for his missing son) can have the island as his own.
Plot Similarities to First Blood
"Ruckus" came out two years before First Blood, and it's difficult to miss the many similarities between the films. The original rights for David Morell's novel went through 10 years of passing hands before culminating in the 1982 film. It's entirely possible - and likely - that Ruckus was inspired by one of the many First Blood screenplays circulating around Hollywood at the time.
Dirk Benedict - plays Kyle Hanson, an emotionally scarred & withdrawn Vietnam veteran who finds himself shunned by society. The protagonist of the film, he finds himself accosted by local bullies in a small town.
Linda Blair - plays Jenny Bellows, the daughter-in-law of Sam Bellows and mother of Bobby Bellows. Jenny is one of the few people in town who assist Hanson, with Jenny finding herself attracted to him as well.
Richard Farnsworth - plays Sheriff Jethro Pough, the town sheriff who reluctantly tries to arrest Hanson, both for his own safety and for his supposed "crimes".
Ben Johnson - plays Sam Bellows, the richest man in town and Jenny's father-in-law. Bellows lost his son (Jenny's husband) in the war, yet continues to hope that he will return.