Red Scorpion (1988) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A Spetsnaz commando is sent on a covert mission by his Soviet superiors to infiltrate a rebel army and assassinate its leader.

  • 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.

  • A Russian KGB agent is sent to Africa to kill an anti-Communist Black revolutionary, but he has a change of heart when he sees how the Russians and their Cuban allies are repressing and killing the locals, so he switches sides and helps the rebels..

  • Nikolai (Dolph Lundgren) is a Spetsnaz-a Soviet agent par excellence trained in deep undercover work. Assigned to infiltrate and squelch a rebel African uprising, Nikolai unexpectedly finds himself drawn to the guerillas' cause, a betrayal that enrages his Russian superiors, who order his immediate termination. Making his escape through the harsh desert in the company of an adversarial American journalist (M. Emmet Walsh), Nikolai allies himself with a tribe of rebel bushmen, his fierceness in combat earning him the nickname "Red Scorpion." Nikolai's new-found independance climaxes in his leadership of the rebels against his former comrades, storming their headquarters in a lethal, no-quarter showdown.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The movie opens with a room full of generals and strategists from Russia and other communist countries. They bring in Lt. Rachenco (Dolf Lungren) a special forces expert. he is given the mission of killing a well known leader of an anti communist movement. Kintash (Al White) is a hostage that will help him find this wanted leader. Shortly after he arrives at a military compound, Rachenco is arrested for getting drunk and tearing up the bar on base. Of course he is put in a cell with Kintash and Ferguson, an American. Ferguson and Kintash are old friends that get re-acquainted. Then Ferguson, who doesn't like Russians complains about being locked up with Rachenco until he sees the size of this Russian. Then, several Russian soldiers come into their cell. Because Ferguson is mouthy he gets burned by a cigar and a fight breaks out. Rachenco helps his cell mates in the battle and the three escape together. The get armed and stow away in a convoy truck. Soon they take the truck over with rachenco driving. They draw the attack of a small army. After shooting and blowing up the other vehicles, Rachenco has had enough of Ferguson's anti- Russian remarks and points a gun at him. Since they are on foot and a tank and chopper is looking for them, Kintash reminds them of the dander they are in. They decide to go together to a small village to avoid the communist military. Night fall comes and the three men set up camp in the desert. After Ferguson drops a lot of f-words, Rachenco asks if all Americans curse like he does. The next day, they walk to the village and see that it has been attacked. Most homes were destroyed but some women and children are left alive. Kintash is the only one that trusts Rachenco since it was Russians who have waged this war. Three new friends find a pond to cool off in, and then trouble arrives. Cuban and Russian forces move in to take them hostage. Just then, a well armed band of rebels arrive and take out the communists, freeing all three of them. Later, they arrive at another village, and the leader wants Rachenco confined. After getting fed up with his cell, Rachenco escapes. After he is caught, Ferguson is allowed to beat him with a gun, and then he is left far from the village for his fellow Russians to find him. Rachenco is captured by his own army and is imprisoned again. He tries to reconcile with his general. It is no use because the Cuban General has insisted on his execution. Of course, the powerful and skilled Russian escapes, killing his Cuban captor. The he ventures across the desert at night, fleeing his pursuers. Badly stun by scorpions, Rachenco passes out. The next morning, an aboriginal bush tribe finds him. They nurse him back to health as the Russian/Cuban forces search the dessert for him. Meantime, the Russians attack another village. Then the communist coalition finds and attacks the rebel base. Rachenco is meanwhile living with the bush people. As he learns their ways, he is branded as The Red Scorpion. He and his bush man go back to the village and find that the rebel leader is dying. So, they round up the remaining rebels and attack the Russian base. After a bloody battle of bullets and explosions, takes to the building where the generals he once worked for are. He takes them out while the rebels mop up on the base. After defeating the Russian/Cuban forces, Rachenco gives Ferguson an f-bomb when Ferguson says, "You did it"!

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