Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.
I believe it was Carlos Mencia who said “America is a giant game of tag, someone is always it.” I say believe because although I’ve heard him say it, I highly doubt he said it first, if you catch my drift. Because of the joke thievery. Regardless of whether he said it first or not, it’s right on the money. America is in the enemy making business and for awhile, there was no bigger bad guy than Russia.
After nazis but before zombies, Russian terrorists were the villain du jour for most of the 80’s and early 90’s. It’s a unwritten rule of action films that the more people the main character kills, the more badass he’ll seem but you can’t have the audience thinking he’s a psychopath. Action films today sidestep any political controversy by having their heroes fight hordes of flying space bugs or robots but the 80’s was a decade built on cocaine and not giving a fuck.
If you were an actor working during that decade that wasn’t American and you didn’t look French, you were given a striped shirt and a AK-47. Because as long as the villains are over the top caricatures, audience members won’t see them as people. A bad guy wearing a turban and brandishing a rocket launcher is no different than a ninja throwing shurikens. It’s all just stereotypes.
They’ll accept anyone or anything as a bad guy as long as the hero was a warm blooded American. Which is ironic considering most of the major action stars of the era were all played by foreign actors. I believe they were immediately accepted because they never made any films where they fought an enemy from their homeland.
Schwarzenegger never had to fight a single Austrian and I don’t even know where the fuck Van Damme is from but I know for a goddamn fact that he’s the only person that’s ever come out of that country. The films would almost bend themselves in half trying to explain away their accents because the hero has to at least appear to be American.
Red Mob strips away that artifice by having everyone in the film be over the top caricatures. It’s impossible to accuse the film of including slightly racist Russian archetypes when everyone in the cast is not only Russian but written as over the top as humanly possible.
To boil down the films overly convoluted plot down to the essential beats would be: the Russian mob wants an Afghan War veteran to lead a a drug smuggling caravan through the desert and when he refuses, they kidnap his friends son. So the veteran and the father have to team up to rescue the boy and kill everyone else in the process.
The first half of this film is nothing but cutting back and forth between the A plot and the B plot. The A plot is easy to follow. Oleg and his son are vacationing at a survival camp together. The son hates it and Oleg doesn’t care. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The B plot however, is anything but easy to follow. It’s nothing but long ass sequences involving Russian bad guy politics and the occasional explosion. It’s boring as hell.
It’s not till they capture Oleg’s son that you realize what this film is. It’s trying desperately to be Cliffhanger in the desert. Replace the snowy peaks with sandy hills and it’s the same film.
For about five minutes.
They go out of there way to build up this caravan storyline and then they discard it immediately the moment someone mentioned to the director that there this movie called Commando and that it rocks ass.
So then the film becomes Commando. In the desert. With less squibs and more explosions. Seriously, they must have spent 90% of the films budget on explosives. If you see a vehicle in this film, chances are, it’s going to blow up at some point. And that’s including multiple helicopters.
Red Mob may not be the greatest action film in existence but it at least tried to counter balance the ridiculously stereotypical cliches of the time by having the main characters be played by Russians based on American action stars that come from Austria.
Oh and Carlos Mencia is a joke thief. I don’t think I mentioned that earlier.