Imagine a normal day in a small rural U.S. town, sitting at a desk in a high school classroom.
The teacher is giving a lesson in history, possibly talking about World War II. You take a glance outside. Suddenly, Soviet paratroopers fall out of the sky and land. They begin to attack everyone.
What do you do?
This is the catalyst that begins World War III in the 1984 classic, Red Dawn.
Enter a rag tag band of Colorado teens who call themselves The Wolverines. They are led by Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) and his brother Mark (Charlie Sheen). The Wolverines lead a resistance against the invading Soviet Army and their allies, the Cuban military.
While trekking across the land trying to survive, they come across a downed U.S. Air Force pilot named Lt. Col. Andrew Tanner (Powers Boothe). Tanner informs the young rebels that the cities of Washington D.C., Kansas City, and Omaha are all destroyed, and Cuban spies, posing as illegal immigrants, have crippled U.S. strategic command. Tanner decides to aid The Wolverines in their crusade against the Soviets and Cubans and to take back their home.
This film has a cast full of young stars who were very popular at the time. Besides Sheen and Swayze, Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing fame and Lea Thompson, who we all know as Lorraine Baines-McFly from Back To The Future, are among the group.
Red Dawn is a film that, like many people thought at the time, leaves you wondering if such an event could happen in real life. Could our soil be threatened by an invasion by militant communists who want nothing more than to destroy what we stand for and our freedom way of life? Most likely not, however it is intriguing to see such a question unfold in front of us on the screen.
The film’s hyper-violence and thrilling action does not deter away from the heart of its story, which is a story of survival. There is a particular moment between Jed and Toni in which she is dying after being shot by Soviet and Cuban soldiers. Swayze tries to get her to safety but she tells him, “Go on ahead. I’m just going to stay here and listen to the wind, okay?” Jed puts a grenade into her hands, pulls the pin and then kisses her. It’s a great moment in the film because we see the pain and torment that these kids have gone through. Toni is another casualty in a war that none of them asked to join.
Director John Milius does a fantastic job in bringing a very scary what-if scenario to life on the big screen. The performances are superb, and the action is top notch. Even if you don’t enjoy war movies, there is something in this film for everyone to enjoy. I highly recommend watching this.
Review by Kevin Masuda
Red Dawn (1984)
Directed by: John Milius
Screenplay: John Milius
Starring: Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Harry Dean Stanton, and Powers Boothe