Friday, March 14, 2014

Red Scorpion (1988) Review:

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.

Mr. Red Scorpion
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.

M. Emmet Walsh & Al White
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.

Points Earned --> 5:10

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