Saturday, August 31, 2013

Instant Action: Red Scorpion (1988)

Those darn Commies always mess everything up, except for hockey that is!

Screenplay By: Arne Olsen
Directed By: Joseph Zito

When it comes to Red Scorpion I have one question to ask before we get into anything else. What in the hell did M. Emmet Walsh think he was accomplishing in this flick? He is harsh man, oh so harsh and hard to deal with during Red Scorpion. He whines so much that his voice becomes like nails on a chalkboard. The screenplay doesn't do him any favors by having him emphatically swear every other word so that he sounds like a yokel. And Mr. Walsh is not above hamming it up either, some of the facial expressions and body mannerisms he supplies in Red Scorpion will cause a double take from just about every viewer. I have no qualms declaring that Mr. Walsh does his very best to single handedly turn Red Scorpion into a terrible film.

The above being said, Red Scorpion was well on its way to being a mediocre film before Mr. Walsh even showed up. The main problem I had with Red Scorpion was the pacing of the film. I hesitate to call Red Scorpion an action film. In actuality it's a lull film with brief respites of action. So much of Red Scorpion consists of scenes where nothing happens that matters to the film. The movie is easily fifteen minutes too long, but even with the removal of some footage there would still be pacing problems with Red Scorpion. There needed to be more focus on the action, and less focus on treks through the desert and bad Cuban accents.

When Joseph Zito's film does get to the action, it's pretty good. The action in Red Scorpion isn't anything that will knock the socks off of an action aficionado. That doesn't mean the action is horrendous. As I said before, the action in Red Scorpion is pretty good. Dolph Lundgren makes for a decent action star and when he's asked to he manages to carry the action rather nicely. He can be cumbersome at times, but Herr Lundgren shows a surprising ability to work his oafish nature into the action sequences. He's not fluid, but he is strong and brutish and that's how the character of Nikolai Rachenko comes across in Red Scorpion. I'm not willing to say that Mr. Zito's film scored every single time in the action department, but it did work for the most part and that's why the action in Red Scorpion is a positive for the film.

I'm sure I'll have more to say about Herr Lundgren as I explore more of his action work. As it stands right now he seems quite competent and his Red Scotpion is a perfectly serviceable action flick. I've seen way better, and I really could have done without Mr. Walsh's character entirely. Still, for as flawed as it is and as badly paced as the majority of the film is I did enjoy parts of Red Scorpion. Mr. Zito's film isn't a great work of action cinema, but there are plenty of worse alternatives in the action cinema landscape.



Bill Thompson

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