Like most children of the 1980’s, my favorite villains were, and are, the Communists. Maybe it’s just my Americanism showing, but when I was a child playing war games, I machine-gunned an army of commies to death. Hell, I still like games that pit me against the Evil Empire of the USSR. That’s why, when idiot human rights organizations compare Guantanamo Bay to a Siberian gulag, I get a little angry, because that’s fucking retarded. Anyone who doesn’t see a difference has never read an account of a real Siberian gulag, because three hots and a cot weren’t included.
But my sociopolitical agenda, really, is beside the point. We’re here to talk about the greatness that is the John Milius alternative history war flick that is RED DAWN. And maybe it’s the beer and hot dogs talking, but this movie holds up really well despite being from the bowels of the 80’s. I guess camouflage, shooting commies, and Sheen never go out of style.
This movie doesn’t waste any time establishing a plot. They get right to the point and start the shooting immediately. This is good, ‘cause this first and foremost is a war movie, and we as sure as hell want some war. Lousy, no good commie bastards are invading America by sneaking across the Mexican border, parachuting down into Colorado, dropping nukes on our nuke facilities, and bringing in their running buddies from Cuba, South America, and Mexico to help them. This movie probably explains why I’m ready and willing to close off our borders with Mexico, since they’re a leaking sieve dribbling God knows what people/diseases into America.
It’s not an issue of racism; I want to close the border with Canada too, or at least tighten both borders down to keep people from crossing willy-nilly. I’d also like to see America start deporting illegals, but that won’t happen because our political leaders don’t have the balls to stand up to the Hispanic pro-reconquista organizations that are out there, and don’t wish to seem insensitive to the plight of the poor Mexican migrant. Well, fuck the Mexican migrant. If he wants a better life, he ought to reform his own shitty country rather than drag America down into the Third World with him.
Anyway, I got sidetracked.
Jed (Patrick Swayze) and Matt (Charlie Sheen) are two brothers, both of whom are star athletes on the Calumet High football team. Well, Jed was a star athlete who now works at the local gas station (take that athletes!) and Matt is the current star athlete. These kids, along with some friends of theirs from the local high school who are literally thrown into the back of a pickup truck during a Soviet machine-gun festival like Robert (C. Thomas Howell, pre-SOUL MAN), Darryl (Darren Dalton), Danny (Brad Savage) and Aardvark (Doug Toby, and I don’t know how he got that name, either), make up the core of a group of anti-Soviet guerillas (not gorillas) who call themselves The Wolverines, after the local high school sports collective. Somewhere along the line they pick up token 80’s it girls Erica (Lea Thompson, AKA Mrs. Duchovny) and Toni (Jennifer Grey), before finding downed fighter pilot Col. Andy Tanner (Powers Boothe, in a rare non-evil role).
This movie really surprised me with the level of actual acting involved. The interpersonal relationships between the various Wolverines, between Jed, Matt, and their father, and even the relationship between Col. Bella (Ron O’Neal), the South American communist leader and his Soviet overlord General Bratchenko (Vladek Sheybal). If there is a sympathetic Commie, it’s Col. Bella, who really isn’t a Communist, he’s more of a professional insurgent and revolutionary. As such, he can appreciate the Wolverines without really killing them, unlike his Red comrades.
Another thing to praise about this movie is that it almost killed DIRTY DANCING. That’s right, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze learned to hate one another on the set of this film, but unfortunately both were professionals, pushed it aside to dance together, and now we’re stuck with brilliant lines like “Nobody puts Baby in a corner!“ in the universal lexicon. Also, this is the first PG-13 movie, and it earns it, with lots of high school kids getting gunned down, lots of civilian slaughtering, and lots of rocket-propelled grenadery directed at Soviets. Then again, if you can’t shoot at Soviets, who the hell can you shoot at? Exactly my point.
Tons of people die, some you want to die, some you don’t want to die, and some you could care less about. But then again, this is war. War is hell. I’m sure there’s some other social commentary I could comment on, but fuck it, I was too busy watching Reds get blasted and cheering every tank explosion.