Saturday, May 09, 2009

Movie Review: Red Dawn

I saw this movie a very long time ago when I was much younger. Having been reminded of the old 1984 film and deciding to watch it, I realized that I had been too young and also not quite "ready" for the film yet when I first saw it.

The premise of the film, although some may see it as outdated now, is a very compelling one. (This will be the short version.) World War III begins when Russia and Cuba attack and invade America, seizing control of the southern portion of the entire country.

Paratroopers are dropped to civilian zones in from commercial airliners--a sneaky move that catches the townsfolk of our characters' home place unawares. Immediately setting about killing anyone and everyone, including unresisting civilians, the Cuban/Russian Commies began establishing their foothold, "digging in" and preparing for an American counter-attack.

Well, as I said they succeed in gaining control over much of the country. In the middle of all the viewer's eyes, a handful of young high school boys, scramble to escape the sudden attack. Barely escaping commie lead, the boys flee to the store of one of their dads, who encourages them to disappear (but not after giving them his stock of guns, ammo, and survival supplies). They make their way to the mountains and set up camp, not knowing what to do. After a little more plot development, they return to town secretly to find it occupied and choked. Everyone is scared stiff, and those who were deemed any possible threat find themselves in concentration camps, or dead. The commies rule.

Without spoiling too much of the plot, the boys are thrust into the world of men. Their childhoods are over, and that is the least of their worries. Many of their loved ones' being dead or even unaccounted for, they turn into warriors. More specifically, they call themselves Wolverines, after their school team. Thus begins their fight against the enemy, their struggle for survival, and their own hatred. Thus begins total war.

A fair amount of violence (I have heard the rumor that this film was declared by the Guinness Book of World Records to be the most violent film of all time. Just to calm some of my readers who may be concerned at that distinction, I declare that statement to be entirely unwarranted) and language but no sex, I'm recommending this one. Not-too-shabby fights for it's time, the movie gives the viewer some serious food for thought and also presents an interesting teaching opportunity.

Why? Well, the major reason(s) I liked the movie, that's what I'm talking about. Besides loving the pretext of the story, I loved the survivalism aspect as well as the guerrilla one. A few family boys are forced to fight a war they didn't even know was looming, and what's more they do it well. I highly recommend giving this one a watch just for this aspect, but another serious teaching tool for us to potentially use is the gun rights references, albeit subtle. Upon taking control of the town, the Commie-in-Command makes vicious use of the list of registered gun owners, and, at best, imprisons all of them in concentration camps. (This provides the viewer with a very, shall we say, moving scene.) In an early scene one gun owner, replete with a "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers" bumper sticker gets killed and then...well, has his gun pried from his cold, dead fingers.

For those three reasons, a must-see movie. I also liked seeing the boys deal with their own feelings and emotions throughout the whole thing, particularly their feelings of hatred. And on another side note, I also liked the ending, with the two brothers, but then again that's just mah style. ;-D

Another point of discussion at least were the lady characters. Another long story short, an elderly gentleman friendly to the "Wolverines" gives his two granddaughters to the Wolverines for them to take care of. They had already had rape, or something of the sort, attempted upon them, and it is implied some success may have occurred. Okay, I'm good for that! However, I didn't completely agree with the part of the story where the girls were also combatants. Well, you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and you're a girl, yeah you aren't supposed to fight but you're gonna shoot, right? Ok with me. I just strongly disagreed with the men (er, boys) allowing/having the two girls help them in their ambushes, carry out dangerous tasks, etc. Not a very good idea when the whole point was to protect them in the first place, right?

SPOILER! Another interesting part, a subject covered with by many war films, dealt with killing prisoners. Similar to the flavor of the similar scenes in Tae Guk Gi, even though I didn't agree with what was done (not at all) the film does not present it as something good.

Survivalism, guns, battles, Cold War overtones, and some food for thought, I really, really liked this movie. Downright manly! Something that will really give you a cogitation situation, and if it doesn't, it should.

Go rent it!


P.S. I now sell it here under "Movies".


olde.fashioned said...

Yay, another review! :-D

I was surprised, watching it with you the other night, at how much of the plot went waaaaay over my head as a kid.

However, I didn't completely agree with the part of the story where the girls were also combatants. Well, you're stuck in the middle of nowhere and you're a girl, yeah you aren't supposed to fight but you're gonna shoot, right? I wondered what you'd think about that situation. While I 110% agree with you about how women are not supposed to be combatants, you can bet that if I was put in a WWIII situation like these two girls, I'd be toting rifles and grenades, and using them, too. :-P I'd rather be asking God's forgiveness for taking action than begging for mercy from some scummie Commie!!!

Lizzy Brown said...

Rent it?? LOL We own it. Its always been one of my Dad's favorites. I grew up on it, that, and Army Surplus... LOL and people actually wonder why I am the way I am; Amazing.

Son3 said...

"Wolverines!!!"I've always loved that movie.

I heartily concur with your synopsis and opinion of the film, and I will refer anyone who hasn't yet seen it to this post!

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Lauren: Well, now you know. :-D

Lizzy: Haha. People MUST wonder why I'm the way I am...hehehe. :-)

Son3: Why thank you, kind sir! I am pleased you agree; I am happy to have rediscovered it now.

One thing I forgot to mention in my original post, however, was yet another issue good to reflect on. The boys didn't go back to town but stayed in the mountains--sounds like a good idea but they were worried about their families. I'm not saying that what they did was actually wrong, but I think I would have...uhm, well, my readers probably know me well enough by now. Maybe it's just me.


duva said...

Hehe, I'd never heard of that movie before but that poster combined with the idea of a Cuban invasion (in coniunction with Soviet!) had me laughing out loud for almost a minute... you just gotta love movie and musicposters from the 70s and 80s.

Doesn't seem like my cup of tea but I might just have to see it if I happen to stumble upon it sometime...

Gravelbelly said...

I remember when the movie first came out. I have seen it several times, and I find it moving.

Really good movie for a low-budget film that featured (then) relative unknowns, including Lea Thompson.

Those of us who share a certain mindset have no trouble identifying with the main characters. Neither do we have trouble with the "outdated" Soviet invasion. As one old patriot I knew used to say, "The Indians are always out there."

socrates1 said...

That was one of my favorite movies when I was a young lad.

I have to admit as well, I wasn't at all of the analytical capacity to comprehend much of what was going on, aside from the "good vs. bad" concept, and that the good guys won ;)

It's time to revisit this movie as an adult - thanks for reminding me of it.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Thank you sir. ;-D