80s Action Movie

Tango & Cash (1989)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Tango & Cash (1989)

Directors:

Andrey Konchalovskiy

Albert Magnoli

Writers:

Randy Feldman

Jeffrey Boam

Starring:

Sylvester Stallone

Kurt Russell

Terri Hatcher

Jack Palance

Blurb:

Framed by their ruthless arch-nemesis, a mismatched LAPD crime-fighting duo has to put its differences aside to even the score with the evil kingpin who put them behind bars once and for all.

Thoughts:

The title and idea of Tango & Cash are awesome. You’ve got Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as, basically, buddy cops. They’re taking down criminals in their own way until they’re framed by a weird old white dude that has a thing for mice. It’s a great premise, and the first half of the movie is fine. Sadly, the last half doesn’t make sense, and it’s clear that someone else directed it.

Honestly, reading up on the film, it’s a miracle it got made. They went twenty million over budget, and Stallone fired the director and the original director of photography. Supposedly he was also the producer, director, writer, and star all at one time. He wasn’t given credit for it, and the Wikipedia isn’t one I’d trust completely, so take that with a bag of salt. It’s possible he felt inferior because Russell is so clearly the better actor.

I’d say this is around the time Stallone’s career started to take a downturn. He still did some good movies, but they were more hit or miss. He’s a better actor than Schwarzenegger, but he’s got a type he can play, and he should stick with it. Stallone is definitely not a comedian. He should have learned that in Cobra, but he didn’t. His jokes did not land in Tango & Cash, and it made his character seem off. Stallone has the superior butt, but Russell has better comedic timing.

Apparently, Stallone is trying to make a sequel, but I don’t see Russell doing it. I didn’t read anything about them having issues, but I find it hard to believe that Stallone was a joy to work with.

Only one more movie left in the 80s!

Cobra (1986)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Cobra (1986)

Director:

George P. Cosmatos

Writers:

Sylvester Stallone

Starring:

Sylvester Stallone

Brigitte Neilsen

Reni Santoni

Brian Thompson

Blurb:

A tough-on-crime street cop must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult with far-reaching plans.

Thoughts:

Cobra has a lot of tropes that have become overused, or it has stuff borrowed from much better works. Stallone’s character, Marion Cobretti, seems influenced by Dirty Harry and a character played by Steve McQueen in The Reivers. He’s also named after John Wayne. It’s too much for me.

It’s all a bit heavy-handed, and there are a couple of my least favorite tropes in action movies. Stallone gets the girl after being a dick to her. They have sex while she’s being chased by a violent cult of murderers that like to bang axes together. There’s a genuinely awful montage about halfway through the movie. It is painful to watch and doesn’t fit in with the film. There are several attempts by Stallone to be funny, some running gag about eating healthy, but it comes off as weird and awkward.

The original director’s cut was two hours long, but they cut stuff so that they could get more showings in theaters. Stallone was apparently in charge of or had a say in what was cut, so they cut many scenes with other characters. Which explains at the end of the movie where his partner is shot and then disappears until Stallone is putting him in an ambulance.

Reading the Wikipedia entry for this movie is peak diva Stallone. The man sounded like he was unbearable while filming this. Not just making the movie all about him to the detriment of the plot, but he wanted the author who wrote the book this was loosely based on to re-release the book and list him as coauthor—the absolute ego on this man.

The best part about Cobra was the tagline, “Crime is a disease. Meet the cure.” Everything else was too over the top, cliché, and honestly too dark, in my opinion. It might as well have been set in a post-apocalyptic world with how L.A. was depicted. Not a fan.

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Director:

George P. Cosmatos

Writers:

Sylvester Stallone

James Cameron

Starring:

Sylvester Stallone

Richard Crenna

Charles Napier

Julie Nickson

Blurb:

Rambo returns to the jungles of Vietnam on a mission to infiltrate an enemy base-camp and rescue the American POWs still held captive there.

Thoughts:

Rambo: First Blood Part II nearly killed my momentum in my movie re-watch. I was not in the mood to watch it at all. In the end, I had it playing in the background while I folded laundry and played Candy Crush. It is not as good as the first movie and is the birth of Rambo’s current image. It has a huge body count, tons of explosions, and lots of racism. For one brief moment, it seems to call out the government and its treatment of the entire Vietnam war situation, but it is not nearly as scathing as the first movie.

I own Part II because it came in a box set my partner purchased. I nearly convinced myself to skip over it, but it felt like cheating. I don’t hate the movie. It isn’t so violent that it makes me ill, like a couple of the films my partner owns. It’s just not a movie I need to watch more than once.

After the last movie’s events, Rambo is working on a chain gang when Troutman approaches him about a job in Vietnam. He’s given a choice to go back to Vietnam or stay on the chain gang. He chose Vietnam. He’s completely set up for what happens to him, and you know it’s going to happen because he points it out before he gets in the chopper to leave. They hire freaking Rambo to take pictures proving there are no POWs. It was massive overkill, even if there wasn’t supposed to be anyone.

There’s a woman in this one. Rambo kisses her, and then she dies, spurning him on for vengeance. It’s one of my least favorite tropes in action movies. The character was Vietnamese and was supposed to speak in broken English, but the actress did an awful job of it. She pronounced all of the words correctly and skipped over words to make it sound broken. It didn’t sound like anyone I’ve heard who is speaking their non-native language.

Rambo: First Blood Part II showed the flaw in my system. I’ve had urges to watch movies that I own from later years, but I’ve resisted. Having this one in my queue with no desire to watch it made those urges harder to ignore. I ended up starting a binge-watch of Life in Pieces while I kept putting it off.

Next up is Jumpin Jack Flash.

Commando (1985)

The Great Movie Re-Watch

Commando (1985)

Director:

Mark L. Lester

Writers:

Jeph Loeb

Matthew Weisman

Steven E. de Souza

Starring:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Rae Dawn Chong

Dan Hedaya

Vernon Wells

Alyssa Milano

Blurb:

A retired Special Forces colonel tries to save his daughter, who was abducted by his former subordinate.

Thoughts:

Commando wastes exactly zero time getting into things. It starts with bad guys killing people, then moves right into John Matrix, Arnold Schwarzenegger, carrying a tree trunk over his shoulder while also holding a chainsaw. There is no wasted time or bloat, and at a 90 minute running time, it’s the perfect length.

Whether they realize it or not, this is the movie most people think of when they think of 80s action movies. You’ve got the over-the-top hero who has a high body count and is virtually unstoppable. A clear bad guy that is, in this case, more than a little unhinged. Multiple one-liners and a basic plotline. It’s uncomplicated, and when the main goal is completed, the movie stops, no matter what else is up in the air.

One of my favorite parts of Commando is Rae Dawn Chong’s character. I love the way she handles herself around first the scummy henchman and then later Matrix. She doesn’t let either man push her around, well, Matrix to a degree, but when he isn’t around her, she immediately goes to the cops. Then she decides for herself to help him. When he’s bossy, she answers back. She doesn’t come off as a pushover. She’s not forceful and in your face, but she’s a survivor and has a say in what happens to her. I like her.

What is even better than all of that, Matrix and Chong’s character do not kiss. I love it! So many action movies put a couple in constant peril, with the male hero a lot of the time being a total dick to the woman while he’s saving the day, and then it ends with them kissing. I hateeeee that. Good for you for saving the day but after the way you treated her, why the fuck would she kiss you??? It’s such a male power fantasy trip at the woman’s expense, and it always bothers me.

Bennett, Vernon Wells, is wearing a crochet vest that is supposed to look like chainmail, and I will never be able to take him seriously or find him threatening. Every time he appears on the screen, I’m just looking at his vest and wondering if his grandma gave it to him and if he kills people who bring it up. There’s also the clear, nearly orgasmic faces he makes when facing off with Matrix at the end. Dude clearly has some more than homicidal feelings toward Matrix. It explains his hatred of Matrix’s daughter too. She has come between them.

I like Commando. It’s one of my husband’s movies, but I appreciate it for what it is. I like the idea of 80s action movies. There are several elements to them that I enjoy, but then there are several elements that I don’t. I like the action. I like how over the top they can be. I could use a little bit more thought put into the script, just a little bit. I’m not asking for a ton. I just want there to be something there. Even if it’s basic, I want it to make some sense. I also really do not like how they treat women. Commando is tipped more into the positive side of my list than the negative.