Monday, 10 December 2012


“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” - Mark Twain

We watched a movie on TV the other night simply because it was on at a time nothing else was on and we couldn’t be bothered looking for a DVD at the time. As the film played on we were moderately interested although it was a typical, formulaic action “dick flick”. I must say that half of the interest was due to Arnold Schwargenegger starring in it and being fascinated by his performance as an actor before he started performing as a politician. It was the 1988 Walter Hill thriller/action flick “Red Heat” with Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Ed O’Ross and Peter Boyle.

The plot predictable, the characters cardboard cutouts and the action sequences similar to many others of the same genre made for standard Hollywood fare. It was interesting to observe the 1980s on film and compare with our own memories of them. Women’s hair was big, telephones still had cables and the cars were still huge petrol guzzlers. It’s quite amazing how many things have changed in a mere 24 years…

Anrold Schwarzanagger is cast as the tough and dutiful Russian cop Ivan Danko, while James Belushi plays the undisciplined but passionate Chicago cop Art Ridzik. Ed O’Ross is well cast as the evil drug-running Viktor Rosta who escapes to America after he escapes from Danko during a drug sting in Russia. Danko follows Rosta to America where Commander Lou Donnelly (Peter Boyle) assigns Ridzik and his partner Sergeant Gallagher (Richard Bright) to help Danko out with his investigation. When Gallagher is killed by Rosta and his gang, Ridzik flies into a rage and decides to do things Danko’s unorthodox Russian way (shoot first and face the music later). The film is a typical buddy action cop movie of which there were a multitude in the 1980s. There is some attempts at humour with the stock one-liners that such films usually have and Arnie plays it straight for Belushi’s street-wise humour. There is almost an air of “Ninotchka” about this movie, even though the two films are widely separated by genre, plot and time.

The direction is passable, the music OK, the acting average and the whole movie a tolerable enough time waster, especially for the fans of action cop movies and/or Arnie. Once again I must gripe about the lack of optional English subtitles or closed captions. We have been spoilt by DVDs now and not having subtitles on TV really detracts from my enjoyment of the film. Several of the characters spoke with such heavy accents, the background noise was so bad in some scenes and the sound recording patchy, so that overall we missed sizeable chunks of the dialogue (not that it mattered much in the end…). Just goes to show how useful a feature subtitles are. I must note that at least for the scenes where Russian was used in the dialogue, English subtitles were provided.

Watch this movie only if you like action movies and have a bit of time to waste…

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