MOVIE MADNESS #129: RED DAWN

Almost 30 years ago, The Brat Pack were dominating the silver screen. Stars burst out of films like “The Breakfast Club”, “The Outsiders” and “St Elmo’s Fire”. These films gave us Patrick Swayze, Tom Cruise, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson and so, so many others. And thus a new wave of young talent emerged. One of those films was “Red Dawn”.

It was the story of a group of teens (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Jennifer Grey and Lea Thompson) who escape a full blown invasion of their Americana town only to rise up and fight back against oppression, as The Wolverines.

Original cast of “Red Dawn”

The invaders were the Soviet Union and it became a classic Cold War film. The reason the film worked was it was locked within 1984 and preyed on America’s determination to win the Cold War. And it was a full blown epic!

The movie is considered a huge lump of cheese now but it shows what Hollywood was thinking back in 1984 and falls into the same category as say “Rocky IV” and “Rambo 3”.

The kids tactics in the film was very close to that of the Mujaheddin rebels fighting the Russian invaders in Afghanistan. Instead Hollywood brought that struggle stateside.

So why in the world would Hollywood want to remake such a time sensitive and dated concept? The American patriotic image isn’t as pure as it used to be and in some situations America is even the invader. It just makes no sense.

In the remake, the plot is pretty much the same except they have expanded the number of kids and intensified the violence. Patrick Swayze is now Chris Hemsworth. Charlie Sheen is now Josh Peck. C. Thomas Howell is now Josh Hutcherson. Lea Thompson is now Isabel Lucas. And Jennifer Grey is now Adrianne Palicki.

In the original film one of the major storylines was a disagreement between the two brothers. You had Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen squaring off against each other. In the remake Hemsworth argues with Josh Peck and you never really ever side with Peck. Peck is more of stubborn punk who for the majority of the movie you wish would get killed off. Also Peck isn’t that great of an actor and with Josh Hutcherson taking the smaller role I wished that these two had swapped places. Hutcherson as the brother at least could have been as memorable as Swayze vs. Sheen.

One of the major plot points had Charlie Sheen dying in the original forcing his brother to strike hard and fast. They decided to kill off someone else instead in this film.

Matter of a fact, more Wolverines died in the remake but the deaths in the original meant more.

Another big difference between this and the original was it all took place in an urban environment. This changed the dynamics of who oppressors were as well as who the Wolverines are.

The oppressors this time are the North Koreans. (*sigh*) They are led by Will Yun Lee, who is actually a really solid actor. Lee has had such a hard time trying to get established with co-starring in such crap as “Torque”, “Elektra”, “Witchblade”, and “Bionic Woman”. I really think he needs a break and has the potential to be a really great Asian-American star. I really hope he has a chance to shine and get his due with “The Wolverine” in 2013.

But in “Red Dawn”, Lee is playing such a stereotype that it maddened me so much. It even frustrated me more when they increased the Marines rescue mission from one guy to three and one of the Marines was oriental. It was like they were purposely trying to soften the stereotype running rabid on screen.

I was bored quite quickly with this crapfest because it’s basically teen angst then intense action then belly aching/bonding then action. It was just repeat and rinse for 90 minutes. We hardly got to know any of these characters. And I have seen more impressive action scenes on “Sons of Anarchy” or on “Call of Duty”. There is a joke in the film about “Call of Duty” being fake and this being real life. Personally, “Call of Duty” is better entertainment.

1.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer

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