Monstervision's Joe Bob Briggs Looks At

Red Scorpion (1989)

(From Joe Bob's Ultimate B Movie Guide)
One of the best in-your-face exploding- Third-World-country movies ever made, but strangely underrated. It should have made an action star of Dolph Lundgren of Rocky 4, who has a bodybuilder's physique that looks better than Arnold's in his prime, and pronounces all 20 of his dialogue words correctly. The Swede with tree-trunk legs plays a KGB special agent sent to Africa to blow the head off a kindly old black revolutionary in a dashiki. But on the way down he beats up 60 fellow Russkies in a bar so they'll throw him in jail and he can make friends with Kunta Kinte Kullunda or something like that, who's the kindly old black revolutionary's best friend. They bust out of there with M. Emmet Walsh, the sleaziest man working in drive-in movies--a perfect representative of the American media--and end up dodging one of those giant guided-missile attack-copter gunships that's floating around the countryside dropping nerve gas on women and children and machine-gunning villages and killing the zebras. Dolph ALMOST manages to stab the kindly old black guy, but he gets captured and left to the mercy of this goon-face Cuban torturer who enjoys sticking two-foot-long steel needles into various parts of Dolph's body and then grinning a lot. Of course, Dolph is forced to go out in the desert and be trained by a Bushman to let people carve insect designs on his chest, and then--can we have a little "Rocky" music here?"--let's kick hiney for the Third World, how about it?
Two breasts (Dolph's).
151 dead bodies.
Seven dead endangered species.
One motor vehicle chase, with trucks, motorcycles, jeeps, tanks, armored personnel carriers, explosions, crash-and-burns.
Cigar to the chest.
Scorpion attack.
African conga-line medicine dance.
African mystery meat.
Pig hunting.
Scorpion juice drinking.
Ritual Swedish chest-carving.
Exploding tank.
Exploding truck.
Exploding jeeps.
Exploding attack copter gunship.
Exploding Cuban.
Exploding Russian.
Gratuitous Little Richard.
Kung Fu.
Cuba Fu.
AK-47 Fu.
Desert Fu.
Nerve gas Fu.
Good Golly Miss Molly Fu.
With Brion James as the torturer wielding the pointy needle ("I'm very good at avoiding vital organs").
Directed by Joseph Zito, of INVASION U.S.A. and MISSING IN ACTION and FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER fame. 4 stars

2000 Joe Bob Briggs. All Rights Reserved. Not an AOL Time-Warner Company in this lifetime.
"Red Scorpion" is available on video and on DVD

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Trivia about Red Scorpion

* Produced by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff as a copy of Rambo set in Africa

* Writer Arne Olsen (Cop And A Half) complained that his "classy action pic" script was extensively rewritten by director Joseph Zeto

* The film grossed just $4 million, a quarter of its $16 million cost
* It took 5 months to film in Namibia, under the control of South Africa's apartheid government at the time

* M. Emmet Walsh (the gonzo reporter in the movie) considers it "the most horrible experience"

* Carmen Argenziano (the film's evil Cuban) told Entertainment Weekly that when they got to Namibia they said, "What the heck are we doing and how the heck do we get out of here?"

* At the time, Abramoff's IFF (International Freedom Foundation) was rumored to be getting money from white South Africa's military, and some wondered if that was how the first-time producer was able to raise $16 million for the movie (Abramoff denies that his IFF got money from South Africa's military and won't comment about the movie)

* Dolph Lundgren and the others declined to be in the strait-to-video sequel "Red Scorpion 2," one of the finest movies about Nazis threatening America with the spear that killed Jesus Christ on the cross, ever made.

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