Saturday, August 7, 2010

Red Scorpion 2 (1994)

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Tagline:

America Has A Brave New Weapon

Back of DVD:

He can control the destiny of the nation with the touch of a button, with legions of followers ready and committed to carry out his every evil command. Picking up where Hitler left off, Kendrick (John Savage - The Deer Hunter) is determined to gain supremacy at all costs through his reign of terrorism.

There's only one group that can stop him - The Red Scorpion - a top secret band of highly trained experts in the fields of combat and espionage. Their leader is Nick Stone (Matt McColm - Cyborg), a top agent of the National Security Council who has just been devastated by the death of a close friend on their last mission. Persuaded by his commanding officer (Michael Ironside - Top Gun) to complete this one last mission, he must now join up with a new team of commandos to overthrow Kendrick and thwart his treacherous plans.

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Movie Review:

Red Scorpion 2 is apparently a sequel to the 1989 Dolph Lundgren movie of the same name, but Dolph is not in this, not even via flashback. Nor is this set in Russia or Africa, but instead the good ol' US of A (though filmed in Canada).

We start at a tacky nightclub filled with tacky people wearing tacky clothes dancing to a tacky band (with tacky hair). Thankfully the tackiness is stopped short when some militants enter and blow the band away, round up the non-whites in the room then blow them away as well. At the same time, a meeting of bigots is underway in a tent helmed by campy aryan neo-nazi Andrew Kendrick (John Savage) who doesn't condone violence (he lies). Elsewhere on a boat, an illegal weapons deal is being disrupted when undercover-whatever Nick Stone (Matt McColm), posing as a buyer, and his female accomplice reveals his intentions to arrest the sellers. This of course ends in a shootout whereby Stone's lady friend is killed and the boat explodes when Stone hurls a grenade at it. Then a gallery is broken in to and the guards dispensed with, and Kendrick has a minor orgasm as he retrieves the Spear of Destiny from a glass case. Following?

Stone is understandably bummed out by the death of whateverhernamewas and meets with his boss Michael Ironside to resign from his command. Ironside says he has "one last mission" before he can retire - take down that campy nazi Kendrick who plans to activate his sleeper cells and take over the country. Stone works alone normally (except I guess that time when whateverhernamewas was killed) but this time he has to work in a team. Cue roll call of squad members -Billy Ryan the sharp shooting redneck, Vince D'Angelo a computer specialist at the Hollywood OS and womaniser, Joe Nakamura a Taekwondo expert and classical music fan, Winston 'Mad Dog' Powell a disgraced detroit cop and Commander Sam Guinness, the token woman. About as cliched as you can get.

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On their first mission to gather evidence and hopefully recover the stolen Spear of Destiny, the team infiltrate a warehouse owned by Kendrick. They have all been issued Aliens-style headset cameras and Sam and Ironside watch on monitors back at the truck. The occupants of the warehouse don't want to help with their enquiries so the first shootout of the movie occurs. Joe does some of his martial arts, Winston smashes through walls and chews cigars, Billy sharp-shoots and Stone round-house kicks a guy through a window. The guys don't work together as a team well, despite constant orders from their Commander, and the result is Joe being shot and the spear not being captured. Although a rubbish performance, Ironside's boss Colonel Gregori (George Touliatos, who played among other things a few bad guys in Stargate SG1) shows his face finally and declares that he will make a team out of them. I thought they already were a team, but anyway. He'll make them better. Ironside chews them out for their lack of teamship but with what little information they managed to gather, a second infiltration is planned.

Ironside has about two minutes of dialogue in Red Scorpion 2, he basically phones it in. And you might be wondering what the relevance is to Dolph Lundgren's Red Scorpion. Dick all, really. It is revealed later that Colonel Gregori trained Dolph's character from the first movie, Nikolai, that's about it. Now his team have Red Scorpion tattoos on their shoulders. That's the link.

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Everyone else gives a fairly standard performance, except for John Savage, who hams it up good and proper as the white supremacist Hitler-loving Andrew Kendrick. He definitely wishes he has been in the Gestapo, wears black leather gloves and has a love of torture. He happily allows a reporter that stumbled into his lair to be branded with a swastika and also enjoys watching others play his own version of Russian Roulette. He has the creepiest lines as well: "I love the wind. Someday I'll be a part of it." What? There is a token training montage as well. The team need to learn to play better together so Gregori gets them to climb a cliff face. They fail over and over of course but when they finally get to the top there is much rejoicing.

Winston enters one of the bigot meetings and, being black, stands out like a choc-chip on vanilla ice cream. Billy has been planted in the audience as a redneck and the two get into a planned rumble. Kendrick approves of this and offers Billy a job for some reason, but after he sleeps with Kendricks female assistant, the game is up and Billy gets thrown in a dungeon. The rest of the team go in to rescue him and take down Kendrick once and for all. This all culminates in a big-arse finale with explosions, kickboxing, motorbike riding, spilled barrels of oil igniting nearby buildings and slow motion shootouts.

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The two best deaths in the movie have to be mentioned. The first is of one of Kendrick's insignificant henchmen who, after running away on a rooftop, gets shot from a hundred feet away by a single pistol round which hits a barrel, sets him on fire and pushes him out of a window. The guy rolls off three separate roofs before crashing into a munitions dump, blowing the whole damn building up!

The last death, of Kendrick (you knew it would happen so I'm not spoiling anything), is hilarious. The guy doesn't get killed by the squad; after his plans of domination were destroyed and the building's exploding around him, he simply walks into an oncoming fireball yelling "THE WIND! THE WIND!".

An average-to-good little action flick that feels more like a midday movie than a late night rental.

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The Video:

This movie doesn't seem to exist on DVD anywhere, but there were both VHS and LaserDisc releases when the movie first came out. I acquired a DVD-R of the LaserDisc version which was not a terrible print though the black level was almost non-existant. I ran it through a gamma filter and restored some degree of hard blacks and the movie was perfectly watchable with a much better resolution than a VHS copy would be.

Trailer:

As hard as I looked, I couldn't find one. So you get more screenshots.

More Screens:

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4 comments:

  1. I noticed as I was hunting for a trailer for this that reader Ty, from comeuppancereviews.com, reviewed this only last month! Strange co-incidence there; like minds think alike! Where did you get your copy from Ty?

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  2. That is a strange coincidence! I enjoyed your review of it!

    I got my copy from Amazon.com for about 5 dollars.

    THE WIND! THE WIND!

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  3. This looks pretty sweet. Somehow is scooted past my radar. Great review.

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  4. Yeah as far as in-name only sequels go, this one was pretty good.

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