Friday, May 30, 2008
Red Heat (1988)
(Image from Wikipedia)
Red Heat (1988)
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Russian Police Captain Ivan Danko in this late eighties action comedy. The story has Danko tracking a Russian drug dealer, Viktor Rostavili (Ed O'Ross), to Chicago and reluctantly teaming up with Detective Sgt. Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi). Both men are mavericks who cause considerable amounts of trouble with their aggressive 'result oriented' styles, which pisses off Police Commander Donnelly (Peter Boyle) and Lt. Stobbs (Laurence 'Larry' Fishburne). Also in the mix is Viktor's dance teacher wife Catherine (Gina Gershon). As the investigation progresses both men end up developing personal reasons to pursue and bring Viktor to justice (i.e. lay him to rest six feet under), and are forced to go up against a dangerous gang working for their nemesis as they shoot and drive their way recklessly across Chicago.
The film is fairly typical for the genre, and if you've ever seen a buddy cop slash fish out of water action comedy before, you'll know what to expect here. The story is basic but fairly strong for a comedy - much of it could conceivably be transposed to a non comedic film, though the scene with the cross dressing killer in a nurse's uniform might have to go! The characterization and humour are obvious and you can usually see it coming in advance, though I found much of it quite funny nonetheless. A lot of that has to do with the leads and not any particular genius in the script; both Arnie and Belushi are coasting here but the two have a natural comedic tendency, particularly Arnie who requires only subtle variations to his usual shtick ("but I dohn't want too touch his ass!") to elicit a laugh or two. And seriously - Arnie as a Russian? Director Walter Hill's work is nothing to write home about except when it comes to the action sequences, which are frenetic and exciting, and there's also a fun chase scene towards the end featuring two buses.
'Red Heat' is by the numbers but leans slightly towards the above average end of the scale. It's fun, and probably the type of thing you'd end up watching on TV when there's nothing else demanding your attention. And one more plus in its favour is that it is R rated and doesn't skimp on the nudity and violence, unlike so many of today's kiddie friendly films (though sadly a lot of the nudity tends to be Arnie's well molded physique).