An elite Special Forces operative is chosen to assassinate an anti-Communist rebel leader, but defects after witnessing the brutality of his comrades, leading the resistance against their oppressors.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Nikolai Rachenko
Dewey Ferguson
Kallunda Kintash
General Vortek
Col. Zayas
Alex Colon ...
Sgt. Krasnov
Ruben Nthodi ...
Ango Sundata
Vuzi Dibukwana ...
Guerilla Officer
James Mthoba ...
Guerilla Officer
Dinky Motsemme ...
Guerilla Officer
Ernest Ndlovu ...
Guerilla Guard / Guerilla
Thapelo Mofokeng ...
Guerilla (as Thapeld Mofokeng)
Mxolisi Hulana ...
Nicky Rebelo ...
Occupation Officer


Hesitating in the moment he is about to kill the rebel leader, Nikolai fails and is captured. Rather than being killed outright, he is forced to undergo a shamanic initiation ritual. The ingestion of the poison of a local scorpion, and his initiation ceremony, including scarification (a scorpion), give him a new identity and role in the world -- the Red Scorpion. Written by Phillip Batz

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's a human killing machine. Taught to stalk. Trained to kill. Programmed to destroy. He's played by their rules... Until now. See more »


Action | Adventure


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |



Release Date:

21 April 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Escorpião Vermelho  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)


$4,192,440 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (cinema release)

Sound Mix:

(4 channels)| (France)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The weapon that Nikolai Rachenko uses at the end in reality is an FN FAL but heavily modified to represent a twin barrel AO-63 assault rifle that fired around an astonishing 6,000RPM. See more »


During the final battle scene, the truck that Rachenko earlier stowed away in and which was destroyed is magically back in the army compound, undamaged. (Either that or it had the exact same identification number on the front bumper.) See more »


Colonel Zayas: [Menacing Nikolai with a grenade] This is such a small space... and this is such a very big grenade!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Sound effects of various weapons firing and exploding are heard over the Little Richard song the plays during the closing credits. See more »


Referenced in Red Scorpion: Assignment Africa with Jack Abramoff (2012) See more »


Performed by Amampondo
Words & Music by Mzoxolo Plaktjles
Courtesy of Claremont Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Public Relations Campaign for UNITA
25 June 2006 | by (Ukraine) – See all my reviews

Anything "Red" out of Hollywood would be better dead.

The usual Cold War anti-Soviet/Russian propaganda.

The movie most likely takes place in Angola, as this was the only place where Soviet and Cuban troops were deployed in Africa in the 1980's.

The real history was that a Progressive Angolan government was overthrown by "freedom fighters"(UNITA) loyal to Ultra-Nationalists in South Africa and the US. UNITA was a terrorist organization which grew out of low level Civil War in the country which had raged well before any Soviet or Cuban troops arrived. Various factions supported by the European Powers as well as the regional South Africa were seeking to come to power. A government that would have stabilized the country did come to power, but it was not friendly to UNITA, and therefore an enemy of people like Jack Abramoff and the South African government. There was a regional ideological conflict and the Soviet Union was providing weapons to some of the local government friendly groups. But in reality the amount of Soviet troops in this country never exceeded 600, Cubans sent several 1,000. This war raged way after the fall of the USSR into 1994, when the South Africans went in to clean up the mess they started, fighting their own UNITA allies for control of oil supplies. By that time UNITA was busy shooting down airliners with Stinger missiles.

Anyway this conflict in the movie is simplified as "Russians evil, rebels 'good'." Of course Russians are the darkest form of evil in the movie, even a Russian does not want to be a Russian. There are many mistakes with uniforms and such where Soviet troops are shown without any kind of gear and in uniforms dating back to the 1930's. As well as the "Mi-24" in the movie has too many rocket pods on its "wings", there can only be a maximum of 4, there are 6.

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