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Red Dawn (1984)

 -  Action | Drama | War  -  10 August 1984 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 37,888 users  
Reviews: 375 user | 91 critic

It is the dawn of World War III. In mid-western America, a group of teenagers bands together to defend their town, and their country, from invading Soviet forces.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doug Toby ...
Vladek Sheybal ...
Mr. Teasdale


From out of the sky, Soviet, Nicaraguan, and Cuban troops begin landing on the football field of a Colorado high school. In seconds, the paratroopers have attacked the school and sent a group of teenagers fleeing into the mountains. Armed only with hunting rifles, pistols, and bows and arrows, the teens struggle to survive the bitter winter and the Soviet KGB patrols hunting for them. Eventually, trouble arises when they kill a group of Soviet soldiers on patrol in the highlands. Soon they will wage their own guerrilla warfare against the invading Soviet troops-under the banner of 'Wolverines!' Written by Derek O'Cain

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The invading armies planned for everything - except for eight kids called "The Wolverines." See more »


Action | Drama | War


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

10 August 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ten Soldiers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(4 channels)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The classroom flag at the start of the movie is a 48 star flag. This was the flag of World War II, and a symbolic reference for a movie portraying the start of World War III. See more »


During the school attack scene, when the Russian soldier is shooting the car with the two students in it, the damage being done to the car by the machine gun obviously doesn't match the timing of the gunshots. See more »


Jed Eckert: [at the execution of Daryl Bates and Stepan Gorsky] Do you want blindfolds?
Stepan Gorsky: This violates the Geneva convention.
Jed Eckert: I never heard of it!
Stepan Gorsky: Dogface! I show you how Soviet dies!
Robert: I've seen it before, pal.
Danny: [who is tied up in the distance, with the horses] This isn't happening! Jed, let him go! He was one of us!
Jed Eckert: Shut up, Danny! Shut up!
Robert: He told them where we were!
Jed Eckert: He did. Now get your rifles.
Matt Eckert: *No!*
See more »

Crazy Credits

None of the actors are in the opening credits See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: The Call of the Simpsons (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

Infantile Rightwing Buffet: Ham, Cheese and plenty of Corn
5 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Martin Sheen must have had a second heart attack when he learned that his son Charlie was starring in this NRA fantasy flick. The signature moment of the movie comes early, when "Colonel Bella" of the combined Cuban-Russian-Nicaraguan invading force orders his men to go round up the local gun registration forms which will conveniently tell them which citizens have guns and how many.

Luckily for America, Patrick Swayze and a handful of high school jocks manage to escape the devilish clutches of hundreds of enemy soldiers by driving right through their ranks in a pickup truck, dodging a prolonged barrage of rockets and machinegun fire launched by the apparently cross-eyed invaders.

Even luckier, one of their dads owns a filling station stocked with everything a red-blooded American boy needs to fight a war, including enough guns and ammo to hold the Alamo.

Writer Kevin Reynolds and writer-director-chickenhawk John Milius spared us the actual invasion which would have explained how such bumbling Keystone Komrades could get past the high tech defense systems and massive military bases positioned near all U.S. borders. Instead they begin with the bad guys invading the tiny, Rocky Mountain hamlet of Calumet, the least likely town in America for such an invasion.

To be fair to Reynolds, he later directed the brilliant war film "The Beast," so unless he had a brain transplant or is just a much better director than he was writer on this, the blame for "Red Dawn" seems to fall on Milius's shoulders. Which are no doubt laden with epaulettes and shiny brass buttons purchased in a surplus store.

Later we do get the back story of the invasion, a preposterous scenario involving sabotage by illegal immigrant infiltrators at our top secret defense installations combined with a surprise attack by Russian soldiers flying in on commercial airlines. It worked in Afghanistan, we are told in the clunky dialog, so if it worked in a dirt poor desert nation of course it would work in the U.S.A.

The first true moment in the film is an ironic one: when the boys investigate a commie re-education center and hear a loudspeaker declaring "America is a whore who has betrayed the intentions of her founding fathers." Of course watching this scene in the post-Enron, post-Halliburton era, the irony stands out more clearly than it would have in the "greed is good" eighties when this turkey was basted. But those were the good ole days, when we were arming the Taliban against the evil Russians.

Harry Dean Stanton plays Patrick and Charlie's father, and this is undoubtedly the worst role of his career. His dialog hits rock bottom as he melodramatically emotes, "Boys! Avenge me! Avenge me!" before being led back to be "re-edumacated" by the Red invaders.

Luck is still with the boys, however, or maybe God is on their side, because no matter how close they get to the enemy guards who are supposedly on high alert for them, they move freely and are never even noticed.

Just when this boys'n'guns fantasy fest starts to seem suspiciously homoerotic, with long-in-the-tooth dancing queen Patrick Swayze butching it up as he lords over his fresh-faced recruits, alternately slapping them and hugging them in his leather clad arms, a couple of chicks are delivered into their care. By their grandfather no less. Who explains that the evil "sonsabitches tried to have their way" with the young virginal beauties. Well of course they would -- they're Russians, right? Let no cliché go unturned in this epic.

Luckily, once again, the two unarmed sixteen-year-old girls managed to escape unravaged from the depraved, heavily armed but incredibly inept invaders. Soon enough, they get to exact some sweet revenge, dispatching a handful of the bumbling commie bastards with an arrow and a couple of well-placed bullets. Thankfully the Russki soldiers only had a few machineguns, and were much slower on the draw than the untrained American teenagers. Or maybe... just maybe... God was still on their side.

Soon the American "Wolverines" are wielding an endless supply of rocket launchers, heavy machineguns and grenades. Even better, they acquire stylish berets and other fashion accessories befitting their revolutionary status. No doubt if there was room in the budget, they would have finished the film piloting supersonic jets.

On and on it goes. The pompous soundtrack telegraphs every glorious moment. The cornball dreck keeps piling up like a steaming dump of dinosaur poo. In fact, this cheese and ham soufflé is so ludicrous that if it was baked a few more minutes, it could have been another "Airplane" or "Naked Gun." For anyone seeking the vicarious thrill of what it's really like to survive in an occupied country, a movie version of Jan Karski's incredible true story of the Polish resistance in WW2 is supposed to be filmed sometime soon. Hopefully John Milius will not be allowed within a thirty mile radius of the production, and the creative parties involved won't stink it up with typical Hollywood "improvements." Better yet pick up a used copy of Karski's "Story of a Secret State." There are more thrills in the first ten pages than in this overblown crock of excrement.

And if you're hungering for a war movie, try "Tora Tora Tora" or "The Beast." They'll take you there.

26 of 49 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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