Rated | Alphabetical
John Milius, USA, 1984
Posted: December 24, 2003
Remember your high school days? Wasn't life wonderful back then? The world
was so full of possibilities. Hope sprung eternal. Each day was an adventure
under a cloudless blue sky, with fields of grass sweeping majestically in the
warm breeze. Yes, indeed, it was a good time.
Not for me, though. For me, it was a different time. I remember how me and
Patrick Swayze, and Charlie Sheen and some other guys, had to hide up in the
mountains when the Russians invaded. Lemme tell ya, it was no picnic. It was hit
and run, hit and run all the time. Pat (I used to call him Pat) would always
tell me, "Let's go, we gotta keep those Ruskies running." We must have
slaughtered hundreds of 'em. Things really got hairy when our dad, Harry Dean
Stanton, got captured by the Russians and put into a re-education camp. I'll
never forget the dramatic moment when he told us to avenge him. Man, did we
ever! We captured a bunch of Soviet weapons and opened the whole can on them
foreign devils! Whew! It was rough, I tell ya. Rough!
I know what you're thinking. Am I confusing my high school years with that
classic Cold War flick Red Dawn? Sadly, I am not. This actually happened,
and the events were so incredible that John Milius used the story for his film.
Your next question is probably "Well, if that happened, how come we never heard
anything about the Soviets or Cubans invading the continental United States and
engaging in conventional warfare with high school students?" To which I say, are
you suggesting that it didn't happen because you didn't see it on the news or
hear about it on television? Who's being naïve now? I guess you think we landed
on the moon, too.
But seriously, folks -- If we can't have unfettered lesbianism, robots
fighting dinosaurs or Kung Fu zombies, there's nothing better than a foreign
invasion of the United States that has to be thwarted by Patrick Swayze. Say
what you will about the film, the premise is pure genius. High school students
are in class when foreign paratroopers land outside the school, encircle it, and
machine-gun everyone inside, save for a small group that escapes. (The cool kids
always got the breaks!) They make their way to a sporting goods store, load up
on guns and camping equipment, and head into the mountains. After a few trips
back into town, the students see Russian and Cuban military forces routinely
rounding up townsfolk and mowing then down with machine gun fire. Eventually,
the invaders track the students to the mountains and are ambushed by the young
Americans, and thusly the resistance is born.
Look, this is a fine film. Does it require suspension of disbelief? Well, not
for me, cause I was there, knee deep in it and, er, never mind. Red Dawn
plays the hand it's dealt, and it offers a few pleasant surprises. Just when you
think things are looking bleak, here comes Powers Boothe as a downed pilot who
comes to give the young rebels some tactical guidance. Boothe adds a touch of
class to the proceedings, and attempts to remind his pre-Brat Pack charges that
killing changes a man, and that "all that hate will burn you up inside." In all
fairness, he gives this speech to a kid sawing off a shotgun barrel -- probably
not the ideal audience. Thankfully, the kids ignore him and escalate their
attacks on the invaders, capture their weapons and hand them out to the
townsfolk to expand the resistance.
Red Dawn is a splendid mix of action and patriotism, and serves as a
harsh example to other nations who would dare to invade us (Canada, I'm looking
at you!). We beat the Russians and Cubans with Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen,
and C. Thomas Howell (supported on light machine guns by Lea Thompson and
Jennifer Grey). Just imagine the devastation we could have inflicted if Tom
Cruise had joined in!
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