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If there is something I connect to the 80's more than anything it's
movies like this one. It came at the shivering end of the decade, when
the cold war was nearly over. But it shows a technique honed through
literally dozens of cold war action movies. A genre of it's own.
The Russian KGB-agent Nikolai (Dolph Lundgren) is sent to Africa to kill a native revolutionary. However he is betrayed by his own people and instead befriends the man he was to kill. Soon he exacts his vengeance on his deceitful commanders.
Dolph Lundgren is known from cold war epics like Rocky IV and Pentathlon. It seems his blonde Swedish looks are very Russian in the eyes of the American audience. Also his garbled accent might be appropriate as a substitute for real Russian. Here he shoots, explodes and slices half the Russian and Cuban armies in his quest for vengeance on the men who betrayed him. The machine of the communist party just needed one small deceit to see the error of his ways and instantly team up with natives and guerrillas to fight for their freedom.
A touching story if you don't think about it. So, you've seen Rambo II and III? You've seen Missing in action with Chuck Norris? You've seen dozens of other cold war action movies where Russians are killed in the hundreds and the hero hardly flinches when he is shot? Then you KNOW what this is about. And this might just be the best of the lot. This is simply 80's propaganda-action in it's most purified form. Entertaining to say the least. Rating is 1/10 for quality, 7/10 for entertainment and 10/10 for accents.
Red Scorpion was filmed and released in the final months of the Cold War
when communism was soon to fall. The 1980s saw a whole range of
films (which, in their style, were technically propaganda) as well as
promoting peace between the United States and Soviet Union (the most odd
example probably being Red Heat)
This is certainly of the former camp. Portraying Dolph Lundgren as a mindless automaton of Soviet-era Russia, he fights with dedication for his Soviet commanders, until he is thrown in jail for drunken behaviour. There he meets a resistance fighter, who the Soviet command have designated as a terrorist threat, and learns the "truth" about the Soviet presence.
Looking beyond the mindless action scenes (which, despite the countless guns and explosions), there is a good fable about the possibility of manipulating truth, and how appearance is not always truth. It's nothing deep, and won't have film academics breaking out in a sweat, but it does add some interesting twists to the story.
Dolph Lundgren's acting, as always, does leave a lot to be desired, but then this film does seem to be concentrating more on the storyline and action. His education by an African Bushman is particularly funny, even touching at times as you see the relationship between Nikolai and the Bushman develop. It's just a shame that more wasn't made of it.
All in all, the film does try to be what it isn't but doesn't suffer for it - indeed, at times, it even shows signs of succeeding.
OK now I'm not going to try and say that this film is by any means a
true classic, BUT it is a type of classic.
in so much as that it has the man Dolph, mostly half nude, and it has guns, and some really nasty ones at that. so the plot is really weak, nobody is going to buy into the fact that one guy can save a nation but thats not the point, its really just a vehicle for Dolph to do his thing, which is to look tough and sound funny in a monotone kinda way.
i really like the torture scene where the guy is sticking large needles through Dolphs anatomy, actually looks pretty realistic considering its not a big budget film, and also i like the scarification that Dolphs little tribesman friend does for him while he is drugged.
the highlight of the film for me is probably the goofy relationship that is forged between Dolphs character and the little bushman, its really fun. the language barrier is well played out but the writers and actors have enabled this element to flow very well and their means of communication is really very effective at translating the messages of the relationship for the film.
so do yourself a favor and go rent the DVD as it has at long last been released, and sit back and enjoy some cornball action for all its worth.
just don't expect any special features cause their isn't any.
There are four rules that seem to be required for a "great" movie:
1. Acting = Dialogue
2. Excitement = Explosions
3. The Russian is not allowed to be the hero
4. There should be romance, even when irrelevant to the story
Red Scorpion is one of my all time favourite movies, precisely for breaking all of these rules
This is a brilliant, well paced movie. Well acted by Dolph Lundgren, who is one of the few actors with the ability and charisma to succeed with the "quiet but strong" type of hero.
9 out of 10
It's a fantastic movie and very touching. It may appear 'slow' at times, but bear with it, because it's well worth it. I love the switching. First he's on the soviets side, then pretends to be on the african side, go back to the soviets only to be tortured and then escapes to re-join the african rebels. The theme music for this movie is FANTASTIC. The best scene is after Dolph blows off the Cuban commanders arm; he is outside firing a heavy machine gun (in slow motion with the theme song playing in the background). That part may only be 5 seconds long, but it's the best part in my opinion.
All true film fans must check out this classic example of the genre. Dolph Lundgren, never a poor man's Arnie by any standards, stars as Nikolai - a Russsian 'spech-nach' special forces, one man army type. There's a corny American journalist dude who likes rock n roll and democracy, a bushman who wanders around (yup you guessed it - Dolph switches sides and helps out the local tribespeople against his evil, commie ex-comrades) and there's the Russian Hind helicopter. Even if this sounds like pure hell you should check it out. Made in 89, it's a strange bit of forgotten film history - dozens of Rambo-style war movies came out at this time, preaching the sort of right wing Ronald Regan style pro-American politics. Most disappeared without trace but this sticks out. Dolph Lundgren in his prime, lots of AKs, a Raiders of the Lost Ark style Lorry chase - what more could you want?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't believe all the negative reviews and low rating given to this
excellent film. This is one of Dolph's best film.
There is a scene which I will never forget: the tall Russian standing alongside the tiny bushman.
The film is about the oppression of the Communist regime against an anti-Communist black revolutionary. A Spetsnaz-a Soviet agent (Dolph Lundgren) par excellence trained in deep undercover work is assigned to infiltrate and stop a rebel African uprising.
He does this by being a sort of decoy: a drunk and undisciplined solder in a jail cell where he makes friends with one of the captured rebels and American journalist (M. Emmet Walsh). They all escape together and inadvertently Nikolai is lead to the leader of the rebels. In the middle of the night he attempts to assassinate him but is caught red-handed and imprisoned.
He is recaptured and placed under inquiry.
Nikolai unexpectedly finds himself drawn to the guerrillas cause, a betrayal that enrages his Russian superiors, who order his immediate termination. He is awaiting torture but manages to escape through the desert, but is stung by scorpions in the process.
A bushman rescues him and cures him of the poisonous stings. He also tattoos a scorpion on him, according to their tribal customs. Thus the title of the film RED SCORPION.
Nikolai recovers and the bushman starts to train him in the art of survival in the harsh desert environment. Nikolai learns fast and soon reunites with the rebels and helps them overthrow his former masters.
Very good acting, action and cinematography of the Namibian desert and bushmen. A must film for all action lovers. Highly recommended. I give a full 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the best '80's action films you have never seen or heard of! I
stand by my statement having watched 'Red Scorpion' aged 9 and finding
it even better than I remember when watching it again as an adult. If
you want the quick explanation, it's up there with 'First Blood part
2.' It's also a thoughtful war film that leaves America out of the Cold
War picture and instead ponders on just how much death and destruction
a man must witness before he realizes he's fighting a war that is
inherently not only wrong but simply evil.
Dolph Lundgren is Nikolai Rachenko, one of the Spetsnaz's finest soldiers. He is exactly how the Motherland has cut him out to be, an intelligent, resilient, unstoppable and obedient killer. Unable to march through Africa because of anti-communist revolutionary Sundata, the Russians send Nikolai in to gain the trust of whoever will lead him to his target where he will then assassinate his target.
The plan fails and Nikolai is first captured by the Africans and then sent back across the desert with one intended message; to tell the Russians that even their greatest soldier cannot kill Sundata. Barely surviving, Nikolai finds himself disgraced and left to the Cubans to be tortured and killed but escapes and then only survives the desert a third time thanks to the Bush Man, a lone member of a secretive African tribe, who takes Nikolai under his wing and teaches him the ways of the free African.
Nikolai learns how to survive the desert and then learns of the atrocities executed against the innocent people of Africa first hand. Accepting that he is no longer with the Russians after the way they treated him and left him for dead, when he is ready to move on, Nikolai takes it upon himself to go back to see Sundata and show that he now bears tribal honours only to find that the revolutionary has been mortally wounded by the encroaching Russian forces.
Feeling that he owes it to Sundata and his people after a heart to heart with the dying man, Nikolai goes on to lead an offensive against the invaders, his former leaders and fellow soldiers, to smash the Soviet and Cuban forces and send them out of Africa.
The film was directed by Joseph Zito who reached varying degrees of success in the '80's with three other titles; two Chuck Norris vehicles, 'Missing in Action' and 'Invasion USA' and intended franchise finale 'Friday 13th part 4: The Final Chapter.' Turning Chuck Norris into a legitimate action movie star, the same could almost be said for Lundgren, only it was Lundgren's later features that failed him.
Zito makes a great film by taking the old-school action and war molds and applying a sensible amount of politics and intelligence into the African characters and their purpose. Lundgren plays not only an atypical brute of a soldier with little to say for himself, he plays a man reprogrammed by the military to obey who learns to listen to the voice of reason instead and as much as people might argue that Lundgren cannot act, watching his face turn from a constant menacing scowl to one of resolve and respect is effective enough. His change from villain to hero simply does what no other action film of its time dared to and this makes for a feelgood moral tale.
The film is literally exploding with stunt doubles doing their various acrobatic death rolls and grenade explosion somersaults etc. Special effects come courtesy of 'Wizard of Gore' Tom Savini (who worked with Zito previously on Friday 13th) and M. Emmet Walsh has a co-starring role as a terminally offensive American photographer, which helps you settle into the very ethnic feel of the movie. Add the Little Richard soundtrack and you have a classic action film with something a little different to offer.
'Red Scorpion' is like many other action films of the '80's that could have gone on to have successful and valid sequels, however it's a perfect little gem all by itself and one of the reasons Dolph Lundgren was such a promising star back in the day.
I recommend 'Red Scorpion' for an action movie night if you're planning on watching 'Missing in Action' or 'Rambo' or Schwarzenegger's 'Commando.'
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Surprisingly very enjoyable Lundgren flick. This is very underrated (in my opinion with a good story (even though it's pretty dumb at times. But come on what did you expect! It's action people learn to enjoy it!. It had TONS of explosions, destruction and plenty of violence to keep you entertained. I thought Lundgren was excellent in this(but more on that later). This is not a very popular movie but i checked my brain at the door and enjoyed myself very much. Lundgren has a quite a few funny one liners too. Throughout the film you begin to see Dolph becoming more human. Loved the scenes between him and that African voodoo guy.The Direction is very good. Joseph Zito does a very good job here, with good effects, cool story, and keeping it at a very fast pace and overall doing a solid job!. There is TONS of violence!. we get TONS of bloody gunshot wounds, a bloody broken nose, a person sticks pin needles into someone's flesh, HUNDREDS of very graphic but non bloody gunshot wounds, very bloody wound on a leg, an arm shot off (nasty scene the arm literally comes off. The acting is great. Dolph Lundgren deserves more credit then he has been giving he is a GREAT action star and very entertaining to watch, he gave a very good performance here and was very likable plus was he ever buffed up ! and he kicked that butt!. M. Emmet Walsh annoyed me at first but turned out to be a likable guy in the end. Al White was awesome here i remember him from Airplane 1 and 2. he gave a very good performance and was very likable. T.p McKenna is good as the main villain and was menacing. Overall i highly recommend this give it a try! ***1/2 out of 5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm pumped that Synapse films gave this the proper treatment on bluray ( my first generation DVD is basically VHS quality ). Red Scorpion is a bit underrated in my opinion. It came out at the end of the cold war and around this time action movies were still in demand , but less than a few years previous . I love the action genre and while movies like Commando and Rambo First Blood pt.2 came first and are better films, this movie is similar and delivers . This is by no means a drama , just a pure action film with lots of one liners and a high body count. Dolf Lundren plays Soviet super soldier who switches sides and did a fine job in this one man army flick . M.Emmet Walsh is great in this and completely hilarious . Brion James is a great heavy and director Joe Zito blows up half of the continent of Africa. If the same movie came out in 1986 it would be much more popular , but if you want action this movie was made for you. Also, like Predator you get the music of Little Richard.
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