My score: 7 (out of 10)
Red Heat (1988)
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My score: 7 (out of 10)
Ivan Danko is a no-nonsense Soviet cop sent to Chicago to extradite a notorious Russian criminal back to Communist soil. While in America he is teamed-up with easy-going Detective Art Ridzik as they jump over new hurdles and suffer multiple setbacks. As an action comedy it offers a fare amount (but just not enough) of laughs and thrills. Big Arn is amusing a the brick-faced Danko and Belushi (in his first of three appearances in Arnie movies) is likable enough. Peter Boyle and a young Laurence Fishburne help appear in smaller roles as Ridzik's cynical superiors, but are not given much else to do. Gina Gershon (yum yum) shows up as a damsel in distress, but extends the plot without deepening it. Even James Horner's score is kind of middle-ground, neither good nor terrible.
There's no real problem or fault with Red Heat except that is just doesn't offer an exhilarating amount of what it sets up. It's so straight-forward and lacking in mystery and intrigue when it could so easily have written in. A bit of a missed-opportunity, but certainly worth watching and owning for action and Arnie fans.
We get to see Moscow police captain Ivan Danko, Governor Arnold Schwarzennegger, flex his bulging muscles when he goes into a bath-house looking for a gang of Georgain drug dealers. In no time at all Danko turns he entire place into a wild and crazy free for all taking out a number of muscle men, in and out of he bath-house. Danko gets the information that he was looking for on where the gang leader Victor Rosta, Ed O'Ross,is to be found; in the Durzhba Café in the little Georgia section of Moscow.
Later Danko and his partner Yuri Ogarkov,Oleg Vidov, confronts the Georgian drug dealers and their boss Rosta where there a a wild shootout where Yuri is killed and Rosta and a number of is gang escapes. It's later when the Moscow PD gets the news that Rosta was arrested, for a minor traffic violation, in of all places Chicago that Danko is sent to the United States to expedite him back to the Soviet Union. Danko is told by his superiors not to mentions a word to the US and Chicago law enforcement officials to what Rosta is wanted for. The Soviet leaders don't want it to get out that they, like the US, have a serious and home grown drug problem.
Danko looking stiff an a bit uncomfortable at the Chicago O'Hare Airport is assigned Chicago Det. Art Ridzik, James Belushi,to show him around the city until he finally gets all the papers in order to take Rosta back to the USSR. Everything goes according to plan until Rosta is rescued, with Danko almost losing his life in the shooting, by this notorious black Chicago drug gang called the Shaveheads whom Rosta was working with. The movie then really starts to pick up with Danko now not only in trouble with the Chicago PD, for his very un-Maranda-like police tactics, but also with his Soviet police superiors for letting Rosta get away.
Top rate police action thriller with Danko and Ridzik turning the city of Chicago upside down in trying to find the fugitive Rosta who's involved in a major drug deal, with the Shaveheads, that's about to go down at a city bus depot. Danko shows that he's as mentally smart as he's physically powerful by him figuring out what Rosta & Co are up to by renting Rosta's former hotel room #302, knowing that he left evidence of his drug dealings there. Danko wisely putting down on the hotel register a wrong number #303 to trick Rosa and his boys who later blast into room #303 thinking that Danko was there and ending up getting wasted by him in the resulting shootout.
Rosta turns out to be as ruthless and deceptive as he ever was back in the Soviet Union. Double-crossing his allies the Shaveheads by taking the money he was to give them for the drugs that they were to supply him with. Rosta even having his American wife, that he paid $10,000.00 to marry him so he can be a US citizen, part-time aerobics instructor and full-time hooker Cat Manzetti, Gina Gershon, murdered together with one of his Georgian Confederates after he felt that they were no longer of any use to him.
Danko now completely out of control with Det. Ridzik now fully supporting him, Ridzik by now saw that Danko's way of doing things was far better then that of the Chicago PD, has it out with Rosta in a mad and dangerous bus chase and demolition derby game. This wild and insane action almost causes as much damage to the city of Chicago as the great fire of 1871 did with Rosta finally being put down and out in a "High Noon" western style shootout.
Just as good, if not better, as most of Arnold's more popular films it's in "Red Heat" that he finally puts it all together not just in the actions sequences but in his comical interacting with his American police partner James Belushi playing Det. Ridzik. With all the shooting and destruction over and Danko about to fly back home to Moscow he, it's traditional among departing friends he tells him, hand over his very expensive-looking watch to Ridzik who gladly give him his thinking that he got the best of the bargain. It turns out that Danko had a cheap $20.00 East-German made watch when Ridzik in exchange gave him and expensive $1,000.00 US/Swiss made one! The anti-capitalistic Soviet Ivan Danko learned how to be a capitalist a lot faster and better then the pro-capitalistic American Art Ridzik did.
Ahhhhh, it's easy to slip on those glasses with the slightly rose tint and praise this as a modern action classic the way they used to make 'em. And the fact is . . . . . . it IS.
The set-up is simplicity itself, there aren't really any twists and turns to tax your brain, Walter Hill directs the action assuredly and all the fun is to be had from watching Ah-nuld and Belushi wreak havoc as they try to bring the bad guys to task.
Throw in a supporting cast that includes Peter Boyle as the standard put-upon boss, Larry Fishburne (before he was Lawrence), Gina Gershon and the magnificent Brion James (R.I.P) in a small but memorable scene and you have guaranteed good times for those wanting a testosterone-fuelled action movie with some amusing lines thrown in every so often.
Not the funniest comedy or the best action movie, not even the best movie featuring either of the leads, but undemanding fun from the late 80s with rampant carnage that will inevitably lead to a considerable amount of paperwork (ref: Hot Fuzz, oh yes).
See this if you like: Hot Fuzz, Lethal Weapon 3, Commando.