I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Red Heat (1988)

tn_redheatOne thing we’ve learned from the movies is that cops often come from faraway lands to follow a fugitive or transfer prisoners back to their jurisdictions, and when they do that they have to team with a screw-up from the local department and at first they hate each other and say ignorant things but over time the screw-up will learn from working with the foreigner and the foreigner will see something in the screw-up that no one else did and they will gain respect for each other and at the end they will be great friends to set up for the sequel that most likely will never come. Pat Morita came from Japan and did it in COLLISION COURSE, Jackie Chan came from Hong Kong and did it in RUSH HOUR, Clint Eastwood came from Arizona and sort of did it in COOGAN’S BLUFF, except he didn’t need the partner because he’s motherfuckin Clint. Well, here we got Schwarzenegger coming from Russia to Chicago to get the Georgian gangster who killed his partner and is bringing “the American poison” into their country. James Belushi has to escort him and Walter Hill has to escort the movie.

Of course Schwarzenegger doesn’t need Belushi’s help that much. He’s pretty good at just plowing through, having destructive vehicle chases and shootouts, doing detective work. He doesn’t talk much or explain what he’s doing. It’s funny because they kind of act like working for a “Big Brother” type regime causes him to use tactics that would be considered off limits in a democracy like the United States, and yet they’re the same tactics that we’re supposed to cheer on when American cops do them in movies. It’s a small world after all.

? ? ?
? ? ?

Honestly he deserves more respect. Back home they called him “Iron-Jaw,” here Belushi decides to nickname him “Gumby,” I guess because he’s wearing a blue suit, and blue is one of the two primary colors that you mix to get green. (?) Actually I have no clue why he calls him Gumby, but he repeats it a couple times, so he clearly thought we thought it was funny.

Maybe if Belushi had seen Iron Jaw in his element he would understand, or at least make fun of him in ways that have some sort of logical meaning that can be communicated to the viewers at home. The best parts of the movie are in the beginning when Schwarzenegger is still in Russia. In the opening scene he gets in a brawl with Sven-Ole Thorsen at a bath house. Unlike Viggo in EASTERN PROMISES they’re not completely naked, they’re wearing thongs. But the gimmick is that they bust through a window and continue the fight outside. So it’s two almost-naked musclemen fighting in the snow. There’s also a part where he bodyslams a guy and twists off his leg (because he knows it’s a wooden prosthetic filled with cocaine). The rest of the movie is enjoyable enough, but it doesn’t really keep up that type of inventiveness.

mp_redheatThe idea for this one came from Hill and he wrote the screenplay with Harry Kleiner (BULLITT, LE MANS, EXTREME PREJUDICE) and Troy Kennedy-Martin (the original ITALIAN JOB). I’m surprised it has those old school writers on it though, because it seems very ’80s. It seems more like the guy who did 48 HOURS than the guy who did FANTASTIC VOYAGE.

The cast has alot of familiar faces in small roles. Peter Boyle is the commander, Gina Gershon is the villain’s American wife (a similar role to OUT FOR JUSTICE, but a couple years earlier), a skinny Cowboy Curtis era Larry Fishburne is a cop, and Brian James was in there, I think playing a friendly guy that they interview to get some information, but I might be confusing it with one of the SCANNERS movies I watched recently.

Belushi is fine, somehow credible enough as the typical ’80s action movie sardonic cop. I wonder how many roles like this Bill Murray turned down over the years? Seems like he would’ve played these type of characters if he followed a slightly more normal career path. He would’ve been just as good as Belushi at standing there droopy eyed, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, making belittling comments about everybody, but in a way where you don’t think he’s a total prick, just kind of a funny asshole.

But it all comes down to Schwarzenegger and if you like watching him even in one of his middle-range movies. I do, so it was worth my time. I wonder why it is, though, that if you’re a great presence or action star but they don’t think you can act they make you play Russian? I know he had already played American in RAW DEAL, COMMANDO and PREDATOR, but I still get the idea that Russian was something Hollywood thought was within his limited range. Dolph Lundgren played Russian in ROCKY IV, RED SCORPION and THE RUSSIAN SPECIALIST. Jean-Claude Van Damme played Russian in NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER and BLACK EAGLE. Scott Adkins has had the most success as a Russian in UNDISPUTED II-III and also played Russian in THE TOURNAMENT. So here’s Schwarzenegger, the body builder who doesn’t speak English as clearly as some, what can we do with him in movies? Well, he can play Hercules, a robot, a Barbarian… and Russian. It’s weird, but I guess it can work. I enjoyed most of these movies.

(Seagal is a special case, if you’re wondering. He skipped directly to starring vehicle, so he didn’t have to play Russian to establish himself. Instead he came back later and did it [a little bit] in HALF PAST DEAD and DRIVEN TO KILL. Hopefully he’ll work in a barbarian and a killer robot at some point.)

RED HEAT was made by Carolco and filmed at the same time as RAMBO III. But while that one sort of blew it by dealing with evil Russians just as the Cold War was closing up shop, this one was timed just right. It’s about these two cultures not understanding each other but trying to work it out anyway. Maybe the governments they represent won’t be drinking beers together any time soon, but these two individuals were able to make a personal connection, and that’s the sort of optimistic we’re-all-in-this-together message that makes us feel good. Still wasn’t a big hit, in fact it made alot less than RAMBO III. But don’t blame the Berlin Wall coming down. It was right for the times.

Also apparently there was a video game:

redheatvideogame

So get working on an EASTERN PROMISES one, game people.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2010 at 2:11 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

61 Responses to “Red Heat (1988)”

  1. Vern, I think you might need to get your eyes checked. That suit is clearly green.

    I always liked RED HEAT. I have a soft spot for the action-comedy stylings of Jim Belushi. I got about 50 of his lines from this one stuck in my head right now.

    “You look like Marvin Haggler. I lost MONEY on Haggler!”

  2. I am sort of color blind, but in the movie (not the picture above) it looks bright blue, doesn’t it? Wait a minute, what color is Jesse Ventura’s suit in THE RUNNING MAN?

  3. Jesse the Body’s suit is blue, but Arnold’s suit looks pretty definitively green to me. Unless they put out a new color-corrected special edition since the last time I saw it.

    It’s alright, man. It’s just your quirky color-based weakness, like in BLACKJACK. It makes you human.

  4. “Hopefully he’ll work in a barbarian”
    Does he still want to play Ghengis Khan?
    Someone should take the “culture clash cop action comedy” vehicle and do it with an american and british partnership. Dunno who the wiseass american would be, but I’d like to actually see Gerard Butler play a scot in an american movie for a change rather than as an american with a fucked up accent.

  5. God, I remember playing that video game on an Amstrad when I was a kid and agreeing with my friend that it was stupid that you couldn’t also play as the James Belushi character.

    But then I didn’t get past the second or third level, so for all I know, there could have been a sideways-scrolling mini-game where you pull a droopy face and make belittling comments about your opponents.

  6. I also remember the video game. I think they dropped the ball by not making the power-ups bowls of Chicken Kiev.

  7. caruso_stalker217

    June 17th, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I always laugh at the part where Belushi gets a shot in his ass and says “What’s in that thing, CEMENT!?”

    Yeah, RED HEAT is pretty badass.

  8. RED HEAT is also educational. It taught me my Miranda Rights, as well as what “brigandage” is.

    COWBOY CURTIS: Brigandage?

    ARNIE: Burning villages, raping women.

    COWBOY CURTIS: That kind of shit goes on in Russia, huh?

  9. caruso_stalker217

    June 17th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    “It’s called the Miranda Act, and it says that you can’t even touch his ass.”
    “I do not want to touch his ass. I want to make him talk!”

    “Do you know Miranda?”
    “Never heard of the bitch.”

  10. “Time to feed parakeet.”

    “What’s that, Russian for jerkin’ off?”

    Owning a parakeet is textbook badass juxtaposition.

  11. caruso_stalker217

    June 17th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    “Kepitalism.”

  12. All I can say to attest to RED HEAT’S utter badassness is that the script opens with this qoute:

    “Much has been left in the world that has to be destroyed by fire and iron.” Vladimir Lenin, 1915.

  13. “what’s up with the piece of shit on the sidewalk?”

    “he lives here”

    Belushi is classic in this flick. Like 48 Hours it is an amazing mix of tough guy back and forth and the kind of brutal violence Hill does so well.

    Walter Hill = one of the most underrated directors still working today

  14. This reminds me, actually; Vern, have you ever reviewed the Michael Douglas flick “Black Rain”? If not, you should. One of my fave Ridley Scott movies.

  15. Ahh ,good old Danko ! (That’s the name of the movie over here , simply “Danko”) . I always smile when I think of the scene when Danko and Belushi are questioning Viktor Rosta , and he’s only answers are curse words and harsh language. I can tell by the comments that a lot of lines are the same ( the Miranda Jokes , the parakeet ….) but one of Viktor’s answers during the interrogation is ( translated from Italian ) ” Lick your mother’s ass!” ( literally). It’s that in the original , English dub too?

  16. Also , during an argument with Belushi , this is one of Arnold’s lines: “Put parakeet up your ass!” ( Yes , there’s a lot of asses in our dub).

  17. It’s actually “Kiss your mother’s behind.” Arnold really sells it.-

  18. Man, I don’t remember Red Heat the videogame, but I do recall my mom telling me that the Total Recall NES videogame was “so violent,” so I had to pick out a better way to spend $30 or less at Toys R Us that day. I think I settled for something baseball-related. What was weird was that I had already seen Total Recall and Red Heat the films, and my mom really likes both movies. This is just another example of the power of the Schwarzenegger–when women see him onscreen, he’s an unstoppable force/freak of nature, making them forget their usually unshakeable anti-violence tendencies when he fights other guys in just his skimpy underwear. Man, that guy should, like, govern our biggest state or something; I bet he could get a lot done.

  19. RED HEAT was decent, not one of Hill’s or Arnold’s better efforts, but I liked that Arnold’s character stays a dedicated communist from start to finish.

    Vern – I’m surprised you brought up the Clint thing along with Arnold tearing ass in America without making the ironic connection.

    Arnold’s character at least in the opening stuff is basically what I suppose a Dirty Harry-type figure would be if (as desired by right-wingers and concerned citizens) he basically did whatever he wanted since hey in Soviet Union, he’s a cop. You the citizen don’t have rights for shit.

    As a Soviet cop, your only worry is KGB and your superiors. No don’t worry about your bosses calling you out on the carpet. If you say the wrong things here and there and back the wrong people at your office, then you could wind up dead. Seriously I wonder how long Dirty Harry would have lasted in Moscow.

    Which reminds me Vern buddy, you should review GORKY PARK sometime. Got all your police procedural cliches, except its a Soviet cop in 1980s Moscow. Nicely polished, Brian Dennehy around for some reason, William Hurt in his prime, and your villain is Lee Marvin.

    Let me repeat that: LEE MARVIN IS THE BADDIE. I mean you need more persuasion mate?

  20. I saw Red Heat on tv a few years ago while sick with the flu

    I can’t remember too much about it to be honest, but I do remember the scene when Arnold is in some cheap hotel and he sees a porno on the tv and remarks “capitalism”

    also I love Black Rain, I’ve been meaning to get the blu ray for years now

  21. I seem to recall that Arnold shoots a gun that only has six rounds, 9 or 10 times. I rewatched it and I think he only shoots it the six times. I could be wrong.

  22. “I wonder why it is, though, that if you’re a great presence or action star but they don’t think you can act they make you play Russian?”

    Because there’s only one type of non-American accent: FOREIGN. Therefore, any foreigner can play any other foreigner because Billy Joe Bob can’t tell the difference.

    Swedes can play Italians, Maori can play Cuban, a French dude can play Columbus and of course, all Asians are completely interchangeable. It’s the MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA rule.

  23. Thanks Majestyk , sometimes our dubbing is so strange that I wonder if there’s at least some kind of connection to the original lines. In other cases , we just change the jokes , like in the name Danko , used as a joke in the dub because it rimes with “sleepy” in Italian (stanco).

    On the Clint/Arnold parallel , the first film that came to my mind was The Gauntlet , both for the “cop trying to transfer a prisoner” theme and for the ending involving a bus !

    And I think that a Black Rain review from Vern is a fantastic idea !

  24. Hey, speaking of accents, that finally give me an excuse to segue into a topic I’ve been wanting to bring up when you started the next JUSTIFIED thread, only you haven’t:

    I like Raymond J. Barry as Arlo Givens just fine. He’s really got that slippery, weaselly-but-stubborn quality down. But does his accent strike anyone else as kinda weird? Some of his pronunciations and particularly his cadences strike me as distinctly New Englandy. It’s distracting.

  25. greatest movie ever.

    OLEG LIVES!

  26. caruso_stalker217

    June 18th, 2010 at 12:23 am

    KOKAINUM!

    And Horner reuses his 48 HRS. score. Again.

  27. I will forever have this movie crisscrossed in my brain with that dead-cop-comes-back-to-life-hey-let’s-team-Treat-Williams-and-Joe-Piscipo-together-in-a-buddy-cop-zombie-movie that this is nothing like. I wonder why that is?

    Maybe it’s because they were both released in 1988 and featured similar posters in addition to featuring a principal actor made famous on Saturday Night Live. Or the fact that it’s called Dead Heat.

  28. Off-topic, but I just watched JUSTIFIED Ep. 13: BULLETVILLE, on Hulu. Man, this show just keeps getting better. Sure didn’t see THAT shit coming.

  29. This is one of those movies that I watch way too much. Maybe it’s the great Hill-assembled cast. Maybe it’s the great Hill sense of humor. And maybe it’s the great Hill Balls-to-the-wall conviction and commitment given to western/cop genre tropes. Or maybe it’s Walter Hill.

    Also, I never miss a chance to tell my Russian buddy (who loves, and has a great deal of national pride for, Tarkovsky, Eisenstein, etc.) that RED HEAT is the best Russian film of all time.

  30. Didn’t Clint sorta played a Russian in FIREFOX that one time?
    As for RED HEAT, the most confusing thing for us Russian viewers back in the 90s was its title. The translators didn’t know that “heat” means “cop” or “police” and so they translated the title literally – krasnaya jara, something like “red heating”. As a rule, post-Soviet people enjoyed all these Russian movie filmed in Helsinki, GORKY PARK included.

  31. Black Rain indeed Jaimerey. Other than the Douglas Mullet, timeless.*

    *Actually, I attribute Mike’s mullet in the film to attracting a then 20 year old Catherine Zowie Jones to her future husband. So maybe it’s also timeless.

  32. As one of my Oleg brothers pointed out, Raw Deal had the title changed in Europe to City Shark, which is one of the finest titles I’ve ever heard.

  33. Yes, but because Stallone’s “Cobra” is also renamed “The City Cobra” in Germany, it’s often very difficult to not confuse these two titles.

  34. You have to remember, Arnie wasn’t quite the biggest star yet, hence the need to ‘make up a reason for the accent’, which to be hones actually works for this film (a stupid name, i’m looking at you Raw Deal, or a lame ass excuse. True Lies and Predator got it right by just ignoring the point entirely)

    Not a bad movie, not great either but Belushi was funny and Arnie kicks all kinds of ass, (think classic Clint, few words all action) and its kinda cool spotting the actors who would either go onto bigger things or be in the supporting cast of movies for years.

    Liking all the calls for a Black Rain review, i’m starting to think Vern is intimidated by Michael Douglas’s hair and is ducking out of his duty to put us straight about what some see as an 80’s classic.

  35. Maybe Vern is avoiding BLACK RAIN because…its not much of a movie? Good cast, good director, good DP, absolutely forgettable.

  36. I pretty much only remember what happened to Andy Garcia.

    But what happened to Andy Garcia was pretty fucking awesome.

  37. Best thing to ever happen to Andy Garcia in a movie featuring Andy Garcia, in fairness.

  38. I’M A CYBERNETIC ORGANISM!

    hee hee

  39. Hey, anybody hear of the band Austrian Death Machine? It’s this metal band that purports to be fronted by Arnold, and all of the songs are about his movies. The singer doesn’t sound like Arnold (he just screams in a satisfyingly brutal manner) but there are little skits in between the songs with a not-bad Arnold impersonator. The songs have titles like “Get To The Choppa,” “Who Is Your Daddy And What Does He Do?” “Here Is Sub-Zero, Now Plain Zero,” “If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It” (a duet with the Predator), “Screw You (Benny)”, and of course, “Come With Me If You Want To Live.” It sounds like a winky-winky post-modern joke, but the songs actually function as honest-to-god, punch-a-hole-in-the-wall metal. Highly recommended.

  40. the podbrin 9.2 mm.
    most powerful weapon in world.

    Kapetalism.

  41. vern, I think to be qualified to play a russian, you must kick every ass you see for like a decade.
    all those dude you mentioned, adkins, arnold etc are ass kickers, they are allowed to play russians.
    kevin costner doesn’t count.

  42. Has this become the Justified season finale thread yet?

  43. This movie is CLEARLY not Lawson: White Heat.

  44. Mr. Majestyk – You might also want to check out Arnocorps. They are another metal band that understands centering your music around Arnold’s movies is the right thing to do.

    http://www.arnocorps.com

  45. Done. They rock. I used to be a girlie man, but now I smoke my stoagies wherever I want.

    If you’re interested in tongue-in-cheek movie-themed rock, you might want to check out .357 Lover. They’ve got songs called “Event Horizon” and “Timecop” that are a lot better and more emotional than songs called “Event Horizon” and “Timecop” have any right to be.

    http://www.amazon.com/Diorama-of-the-Golden-Lion/dp/B002YOIKHA/ref=sr_shvl_album_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1276889723&sr=301-1

  46. Jareth Cutestory

    June 18th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    edc: I guess Harrison Ford played a Russian too, except he only got around to it at the end of his career.

  47. arnocorps did it first and so much better…

  48. I disagree. Arnocrops is funnier (and no doubt better to drink to), but ADM is a much tighter band. If you had no idea they were singing about Arnold movies, you’d still have to admit that they’re a vicious and technically accomplished metal band.

  49. Man, I love this film.

    Danko.

    You’re welcome.

  50. You guys have ALMOST got me convinced this movie is better than I remember and that I should see it again.

    The fact that I can’t remember how it ended is definitely a mark in the debit column. In fact, it seems to me a whole lot of Hill’s movies have good premises/start out strong and then don’t quite get there.

    I did like THE DRIVER. The CGI cars were very convincing for such an old movie.

  51. ahh, yes. k19 the widow maker.

  52. Darth Irritable

    June 20th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Speaking of hardass Russians – did anyone else notice that the legendary Oleg is in Predators?
    Doesn’t look like it ends well for him, judging by the trailers.

    Still, impressive that anyone who can survive Drago (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZifsUlirvVc ) can still go head to head with Predators in 2010.

  53. it sends a shiver down my willy everytime I think about the fact that an Oleg is facing off against the predators in legitimate theatre.
    not THE Oleg, but an Oleg.

    for you see, OLEG LIVES.

  54. darth_irritable

    June 20th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Dude, that is THE Oleaginous, I shit you not. Also, I would love to are a Maori playing a Cuban.

  55. Darth Irritable

    June 20th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    For the last time (and fuck you Android) – that is THE Oleg. he does indeed live. No anuses involved. Unless, I guess, Bruno is watching.

  56. Jan Elvsen emailed me to correct a couple of my stupid errors in this review:

    “Sven-Ole Thorsen is NOT the guy fighting Arnold outside the gym/steam house, he plays the thankless role of Nikolai, Arnold´s cop buddy that gets killed by Ed O`Roos early on. And Brion James plays a pimp/unwilling informer, not a nice guy and not treated nicely.”

  57. I am watching this on Blu Ray right now and I’m starting to think the suit is blue after all. It looks slightly green in some lights, but I dunno man. Maybe it’s some dark turquoise of some kind.

  58. Vern,

    Your friend Jan Elvsen is wrong. The cop buddy who gets killed is played by Oleg Vidov.

    Sven-Ole Thorsen just plays one of the sauna-guys. I think Arnold punches him while holding the hot rock & that’s it (Sven has a bigger role in THE RUNNING MAN as a security guy who says something about steroids – and then of course there’s his role in CONAN).

    BTW, I like this movie. I watched it recently & thought it was great. My favorite part was the end where Belushi says, “Nice grouping of your shots.”

  59. I’ve only just seen your review of this, Vern – I’m really glad you’ve done it, because I love this movie. It’s on TV often here in the UK and I always end up watching it. I have to agree that the scenes in Russia are the best – the music just nails it. I read somewhere that they shot the stuff in Red Square without a permit, although I don’t know how true that is. It loses something in the finale, I find the bus-off really boring for some reason – but aside from that, I think it’s solidly decent entertainment with a bunch of quotable lines and genuinely funny banter between Arnie and Belushi. I’ve had a soft spot for parakeets ever since.

  60. I recently saw this on TV and I gotta admit that one line at the end, about Arnie and Belushi being allowed to like each other because they aren’t politicians, really stuck with me. It’s not the most subtile line about this topic, but it’s definitely a good one.

  61. Yeah the epilogue of this movie is really warm and feel-good. I love the jump cut during Arnold’s salute and the final shot in Red Square. And that awesome theme. Speaking of which, I actually kind of dig that James Horner recycles the 48 Hours/Commando score here, it kind of makes them cinematic soul mates, like they exist in the same universe.

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