Jesus fuckin Christ why?!!! Why did this idiotic remake need to be brought into existence?! The original Red Dawn (1984) holds a special place in my heart because it’s a terrific snap-shot into the era that it represents, that being the paranoid Republican-controlled Cold War era of the early to mid 1980s. I remember seeing Red Dawn in the basement of an elementary school buddies house and being uncomfortably mesmerized by the gritty and bloody representation of a nefarious Soviet/South American invasion of American soil and the ensuing guerrilla war that the main characters wage against The Red Threat. There is some classic footage in the original and, at the time, it was widely considered to be the most violent film EVER made, a charge that I can readily understand. For people that don’t know, it follows a group of high school students in the American mid-west that band together in the hills outside of their small town after WW3 breaks out, punctuated by the surprise invasion by Soviet and Latin American troops. The film dictates the desperate situations that the kids find themselves in and how they cope, sometimes not successfully, as they do what they can to take the fight to the enemy. Well, being that unoriginal remakes are all the rage in Hollywood these days, someone with more cash than brains decided that it was time to let The Wolverines (the guerrillas adopted name) out of retirement and to unleash them on a gullible movie-going public. The making of this ‘film’ (I use the term VERY loosely) was something of a cluster-fuck from the ‘get go’. Originally, The Enemy was going to be the Chinese, and it was filmed that way. After the flick was (badly) put together, as I understand it, someone sat back and thought that publicly antagonizing the worlds Economic and Military Sleeping Giant MAY not be the smartest of moves. So onto the shelf Red Dawn went. And there it sat for about 2 years as the genius filmmakers tried to figure out what to do with their ill conceived ‘abortion come to life’. It seems that they thought it would be better to pick an Asian country that would really have little to no impact on the good ole US of A in the event of the films release. So, who is the most likely target? Well, North Korea of course! So they ponied up a lil extra cash and went in to digitally change all flags, insignias and spoken language to that of North Korea. North Korea=BAD GUYS! What is rather interesting about that choice is that, at the time of this writing, North Korea and it’s pudgy little leader have ratcheted up the sabre-rattling rhetoric, and the threat of armed conflict between them, the US and South Korea SEEMS the most likely it’s been in years. Of course, any fight will take place on the Korean Peninsula and no where near Washington state, as we see in this piece of crap excuse for violent ‘patriotic’ fetishism. The number of things that this movie does wrong or badly is rather astounding. First off, the initial scenario is simply ridiculous, especially in this day and age. North Korea (with a lil help from those pesky Russkies again) simply would not and could not physically invade the US. No goddamn way. As all this plays out, there is woefully little retaliation or defense of the part of the US armed forces. During the actual paratroop incursion (which pales in comparison to the shock of a similar scene in the original) we see a lone (badly CG’d) F-16 attempt to attack North Korean troop transport planes as they pass over the idyllic suburbs of the heroes neighborhood. Then, with no discernible passage of time, we see the poor Americans enslaved with NO attempt to fight back. In the same set up in the original, within minutes, we see jet fighters attacking Russian targets, US Army Huey helicopters laying waste to Russian road blocks and occupied towns and famously, a .45 handgun being wrenched from the cold, dead hand of an armed American civilian. In this remake, nope. They just bow down like so many sheep. Rather humiliating (for American audiences) actually. In the original, after the kids have resupplied and hidden in the forest, months pass with them roughing it. When they finally come face to face with the Russians, the resulting accidental ambush is desperate, messy, and violent. There are no special tactics or weapons. Just frantic action with what little supplies they happen to have. It’s a pretty even fight and the kids happen to come out ahead. From there, they start waging their guerrilla war, often with a lot of trial and error at work. In this dumb-ass remake, these average high-schoolers become Special Forces-level operatives in the span of one short montage, a montage that spans not even enough time for any of the males to have needed to shave. And they just happen to know of a guy, in the occupied city, with some Tech 9 sub-machine pistols for sale. How convenient! The kids just pop in and out, with no consequences, to get them. And that’s something else. There is no real feeling of ‘threat’ behind anything that happens here. For starters, considering how bloody the original is, there is barely a red drop spilled here. People jerk convulsively and just fall down. There is no shock to any of the deaths. In the original, a kid nicknamed Aardvark tried to help a US Air Force colonel take out a Russian tank that rolls unknowingly up on their position by climbing on top to drop grenades through the upper hatch. As they try this, another tank nearby sees what’s happening and opens fire with its machine gun. The 15 year old kid takes the rounds across the chest and his team mates watch in muted horror as his blood splattered and limp body slides off the barrel of the tank to thud into the snow. It’s a surprisingly effective and visceral scene (one of many) that demonstrates just how much is at stake for our ‘heroes’. The remake? Nada. No real sense of danger. The original also didn’t have any moments that caused me to laugh out loud. No bullshit. OUT LOUD. The most obvious was the completely phoney and staged sounding ‘Wolverines!!!” battle cry that a dorky character lets out after they easily dispatch a bunch of the evil North Koreans. It was SO ridiculously cheezy that my initial reaction was “Run away!!!” (while laughing my ass off). But I purged that urge and kept watching. Gawd…why did I do that?! The action scenes are sloppily orchestrated and far too reliant on the ‘shakey cam’ aesthetic that seems to be SO popular these days for mediocre action films. The cast is mostly lame here, with nothing really distinctive about them or their relationships with each other standing out in any way. As Jed, the leader of the Wolverines (played by the awesome Patrick Swayze, RIP, in the original), Chris Hemsworth had better be thanking the horseshoe up his ass that he was able to follow this piece of shit up with Thor (2011). Otherwise his career may have died on the vine if he was using THIS to shop himself around. The great Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) pops up in the thankless role of a Special Forces dude who wants to help the Wolverines take the battle to the North Korean invaders. There is a ton of other shit that is wrong with this wild miscalculation of a movie but I’ll leave that to you to discover in the event that morbid curiosity gets the better of ya. But, if you REALLY need to see a movie like this, be sure to check out the Australian version, Tomorrow When The War Began (2010). Given the subject matter (another invasion by pesky Asians) that one at least has a sense of adventurous, comic book-like fun to its story and presentation. Or just go back and check out the original 1984 Red Dawn. It is FAR superior to this lazy garbage and is a poignant slice of the era that is was a product of. “Wolverines!!!”
Random Thought: Could it be that North Korea is SO vocally pissed off these days, in its fool-hardy belligerence toward America, BECAUSE this pile of dung actually got released? Kim Jong-Un picked up a bootleg copy at his local swap meet and after watching it on his dead dad’s home theatre, sat up and said “무슨일이야?” . Hang your head in shame, Shallow and Talent-less American Filmmakers! Food for (not much) thought.