Play Pause

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Weekend TV Movie Review: Red Heat, ITV4 (1988) #Schwarzenegger

Red Heat
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Ed O'Ross, Peter Boyle, Gina Gershon, Lawrence Fishburne
Genre:  Buddy Cop Action
U.S Lifetime Gross: $35,000,000

Plot: A Moscow detective shows his local police escort how to hunt a Soviet drug smuggler in Chicago 

'Entertaining '80s 'Buddy Cop' Action Movie'

Red Heat was another in the line of Buddy cop action movies released in the 1980s and following on the lucrative trend set by Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs as a successor to the likes of one-man efforts, Rambo and Commando. Red Heat is directed by Walter Hill: the same guy who gave us 48 hrs with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy and in watching this movie and 48 Hrs, both films share certain similarities with each other, particularly the formula, which is nothing new. But also Red Heat offers something slightly different & ways to tell the story of 2 fellow cops who don't see eye-to-eye, one serious, one not so serious but working together to help bring down a Russian drug lord and wanted man named Viktor Rosta, who Danko has been relentlessly pursuing. Yet the key in helping them to do that is to get hold of a dancer played by Gina Gershon, who has ties with Viktor. Is it effective? At times, yes somewhat and other times, not quite. 

The movie is 90% dominated by Schwarzenegger as Russian cop, Ivan Denko who is a member of the Soviet police force, who ploughs through bad guys like a combine harvester in a field of crops. He opens the movie with a fight against another big, burly Russian guy: both are almost nude but wearing a towel and Denko beats the living crap out of him out in the cold. He doesn't say much in this film, he leaves most of the talking to Art Ridzik, played by James Belushi, who has the knack of being sarcastic and offering other quips of his, whilst stoic straight man, Denko goes in, hard but still plays by the rules. Ridzik, in contrast, tears up that rule book and does things his own way and as often as possible. Belushi is an okay foil to Arnie's brooding and macho bravado as the smart-mouthed yet at times whining Alec, but who is not as effective as an action star. His performance very much borders on his fluid improvisation and being the comic relief foil, he was somewhat more of an annoyance, rather than sheer delight. I'd have liked to have seen someone else play Ridzik, although I'm not really a fan of that character, who loses his rag on more than one occasion too easily. Gina Gershon shows up also and extends the plot, without having much of an impact on it. 

Often the term buddy cop implies that it is an action-comedy movie, but I disagree with this definition and ''buddy cop'' can also apply to movies like Red Heat, which you have 2 cops acting like buddies. 

The actual movie feels good throughout - it's well-paced, the action is great, lots of running on foot, and the tension is good. I especially liked the hospital chase scene with one of Denko's henchmen disguised as a nurse, which ramped up the excitement. For a brief while, that is. Both the action and humour works well, kind of. After Ridzik kills the guy as the nurse he goes: 'Ah what the hell, it's a guy' or something. Schwarzenegger doesn't rely on one-liners as much as in his other movies, yet his dead-pan delivery generates a few giggles. The cultural differences between communism and the West produce some interesting banter, yet touches very little on the political commentary. 

Arnie's character in Red Heat is a bit more fleshed out in comparison to his earlier efforts from the 1980s: as Denko, he has a purpose, an objective but also a personality in which he sees that doing things his way in America, isn't always for the best.

I have to say I'm a little disappointed that this is one of Arnie's lesser-known movies. Although compared to Lethal Weapon, Arnold and James do not quite have the same camaraderie and buddy chemistry as displayed by Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Or even Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell in Tango & Cash.

This film is not in the same league as Terminator 2 and True Lies - it's not as captivating, it doesn't have as many action sequences, there aren't as many mind-blowing moments & it lacks appeal. & add to that the plot is very run-of-the-mill. Yet it has 1 or 2 scenes that make this film still watchable. That, and though it is nothing we haven't seen before, it's still entertaining nonetheless. At its time, the film was violent but watching the film today, its tone is not as strong as it was perceived to be back then. Having said that, there is a tad more action than 48 Hrs and the leads in Schwarzenneger and Belushi make for a far more contrasting pairing than Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, whose characters are not very charming, likeable and colourful. 

And to add further, this is probably the best B-movie-ish action flick that Arnold Schwarzenneger has done. 

Final Verdict:

This is not a truly bad Arnie action movie - I'd take this over End of Days, Collateral Damage. It falls more in line with Raw Deal as financial flops - & yet are still passable efforts, but it doesn't stand toe- to- toe with his familiar hits in Terminator 2 etc. The action is good, performances are good, it's entertaining at times and though I am slightly disappointed it's not as well known as his other movies, I could totally understand the criticisms from non-professional critics and action movie fans. I know some expected this to be like 48 hrs, but James Belushi is no Eddie Murphy (and isn't as funny as Eddie's Reggie Hammond & neither was I too keen on his character) though Arnie is more headstrong, - if not as rough as Nick Nolte. 

As a whole, Red Heat is a movie I'd watch when it is on TV and nothing else interesting is on at the same time. But if I had the choice, I'd go with Lethal Weapon or Tango and Cash - or both for my buddy cop action movie fix over this effort. 


1 comment:

  1. Will have to check out the film if I have a chance. I'd forgotten Arnold Schwartzneggar ever looked like that, Waiching


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...