If there is something we ‘80s kids know about, it’s being scared of Russians. The Cold War was looming over everyone’s heads, and we were a hair-trigger button press away from nuclear annihilation. So what better film to make than one about America being invaded by Russians (and Cubans) and the start of World War III?! In John Milius’ conservative’s wet dream Red Dawn, ‘Murica is under attack and the only people that can save the country are a band of high school teenagers and a whole lot of patriotism. Milius is no stranger to machismo filled epics, having directed Conan the Barbarian (1982) a few years prior to Red Dawn.
That is not to say that this flick isn’t a blast to watch because you just cannot get any more earnest than this film. When the invasion first happens (with the fantastic opening shot of enemy troops parachuting down into a high school football field) you have a shot of a bumper sticker on a car that says “You can pry this gun from my cold, dead hands” and then it pans down to a literal dead guy’s hand holding a gun. You just can’t write a more compelling scene! But, seriously, there are a moments from time to time that are quite poignant and heartfelt, even though it's covered in a layer of ‘80s cheese.
The so-called "Wolverines" consist of Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey and some lesser actors who didn’t get popular. That’s like some sort of guerilla-style Brat Pack going on and they definitely take everything super serious. I can’t fault them because at the time it did feel like the world could end at any minute in a flash and a boom. The cinematography is actually pretty damn good and for the most part everything is well filmed, especially the action set-pieces. At the time it was released, Red Dawn was considered the most violent film by the Guinness Book of Records with a rate of 134 acts of violence per hour, or 2.23 per minute. That’s a whole lot of explosions and dead commies! When I saw this film as a child I didn’t pick up on the jingoistic and nationalistic overtones but upon rewatching it, it’s definitely a relic of the Reagan era for better or worse. Overall, it’s so campy now that it’s just fun to watch as a guilty pleasure nostalgia piece.
Video and Extras: The transfer for this film looks fantastic and it’s clean and crisp. There is a slight amount of film grain present and this is the best I have seen the film look ever. If you like behind-the-scenes stuff there are plenty on here with a brand-new one unique to this set.
-NEW "A Look Back At Red Dawn" – A 70 Minute Feature Including Brand-New Stories From Co-Star Doug Toby, Casting Director Jane Jenkins, Production Designer Jackson DeGovia And Editor Thom Noble
-Archival Featurette: "Red Dawn Rising"
-Archival Featurette: "Training For WWIII"
-Archival Featurette: "Building The Red Menace"
-Archival Featurette: "WWIII Comes To Town"