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Red Scorpion (1988)

A Soviet Special Forces soldier is sent on a mission to infiltrate an African rebel army and assassinate its leader, but the war machine they trained starts to think for himself.

Director:

Joseph Zito

Writers:

Robert Abramoff (story by), Jack Abramoff (story by) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dolph Lundgren ... Lt. Nikolai Rachenko
M. Emmet Walsh ... Dewey Ferguson
Al White ... Kallunda Kintash
T.P. McKenna ... General Vortek
Carmen Argenziano ... Col. Zayas
Alex Colon ... Mendez
Brion James ... Sgt. Krasnov
Ruben Nthodi Ruben Nthodi ... Ango Sundata
Vusi Dibakwane Vusi Dibakwane ... Guerilla Officer (as Vuzi Dibukwana)
James Mthoba James Mthoba ... Guerilla Officer
Dinky Motsemme Dinky Motsemme ... Guerilla Officer
Ernest Ndlovu Ernest Ndlovu ... Guerilla Guard / Guerilla
Thapelo Mofokeng Thapelo Mofokeng ... Guerilla (as Thapeld Mofokeng)
Mxolisi Hulana Mxolisi Hulana ... Guerilla
Nicky Rebelo Nicky Rebelo ... Occupation Officer
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

They think they control him. Think again... See more »

Genres:

Action | Adventure

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

South Africa | USA | Namibia

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

21 April 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Escorpião Vermelho See more »

Filming Locations:

Namibia

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Box Office

Budget:

$16,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,972,994, 23 April 1989, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,192,440
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut) | (cinema release)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo (4 channels)| Mono (France)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Many of the various poster artwork from around the world altered Dolph Lundgren's hairstyle so that it resembled the hairdo he had sported as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV (1985), despite him having a different more military hairstyle in the actual film. This was probably done to capitalize on the popularity of that character as Lundgren was once again playing a Russian soldier. Ironically, it is highly likely filmmakers had deliberately avoided this hairstyle so that the characters were not too similar looking in appearance, and thus eliminating a visual rehash of the Drago character. See more »

Goofs

When Lt. Nikolai Rachenko is lifting the truck out of the ground in the final battle be props his gun up leaning on the truck. As he lifts, you can notice the gun sliding off; and in the next shot, its back standing up. See more »

Quotes

[after escaping from torture, he turns towards the woman taking notes]
Lt. Nikolai: Take a memo to General Vortek.
[She gulps and nods]
Lt. Nikolai: Subject: Escape. Message: I am *still* Spetsnaz!
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 »

Alternate Versions

The 18-rated German Video-Release is cut by two scenes. The first cut was made at the torture scene not showing a needle stab in the neck of the victim. The second cut was made, where Dolph Lundgren shoots off the arm of the cuban soldier See more »

Connections

Edited into Once a Thief (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Jenny, Jenny
Performed by Little Richard
Words & Music by Enotris Johnson (as Johnson) & Little Richard (as Penniman)
Courtesy of Specialty Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Ivan Drago joins the military

Once Mr. Dolph Lundgren began pursuing an acting career, it wasn't until he played He-Man in The Masters of the Universe (1987) that he began approximately putting out a movie per year. Next in that line up was this action film. It's also probably the last time Dolph Lundgren ever played a Russian character. Good thing too because being typecast as a certain character frequently doesn't give the viewer something more to look forward too. Here, he plays a devoted Russian soldier who is trained and highly skilled in the art of killing. But as the story continues, he realizes maybe he's not seeing the whole picture.

With a screenplay written by first timer Arne Olsen, it isn't great nor is it terrible. The story does contain some meaningful moments, but most of them are frequently overshadowed by scenes that are predictable enough that regular viewers could see it coming a mile away. There are also some points in the film that would make the viewer question "How does this pertain to the development of the character?". It can be far fetched at times. Like how is learning the way of a hunter open one's eyes to reality? Is it really that powerful of a activity?

That's not to say the actors perform badly though. Dolph Lundgren portraying a Russian is accurate. He's a blonde, large, hulking mass of muscle and can speak with the basic accent. Al White plays an African rebel leader who is also legitimate in his role. M. Emmet Walsh plays a an American reporter who accompanies Al White's character. My question is though, how did an American reporter get caught in the middle of this? Lastly, Brion James makes an appearance too, who would play the British character, Requin in Tango & Cash (1989) a year later. It's an alright cast for this movie.

However, the way the action is executed reminds me of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando (1985). There's lots of explosions and plenty of shootings. Just like Schwarzenegger, Lundgren runs around in war paint firing his machine gun without getting a scratch. But perhaps what helped this movie to excel further than Commando (1985) was the human aspect of it. Al White's character leads a bunch of poor followers who seek freedom from the Russian oppression. And when the audience sees them fall, it's hard to watch. Assisting those particular segments was Jay Chattaway's music to the film. In some places it worked but the rest didn't. It was an average listening experience.

At least, the film was directed by a competent person. Joseph Zito, the man behind Chuck Norris' Missing in Action (1984), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) and The Prowler (1981) knew what he was doing. Also accompanying him is cinematographer João Fernandes who has also worked with Zito in the past. Fernandes was able to get nice shots of the arid terrain, which at least allows the audience to believe the place Lundgren was set in wasn't forgiving. In the end, it's not great or terrible. It's just average film making.

As Dolph Lundgren's last film to play a Russian character, it comes off as a better rip-off of Commando (1985) but doesn't take the story in any direction that hasn't been explored. Just average on the whole.


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