The Commies are bad, mmmkay.
The other great theme of eighties US action cinema- after the cancer of urban decay- was the fight against global Communism. Rambo led the charge when he liberated Afghanistan. Red Scorpion is Dolph Lundgren’s entry into the genre. He wants you to know that there were decent Russians out there- they were just too naive or brainwashed to recognise the evil that their leaders did. All they needed was to have their eyes opened, probably violently.
Nikolai is that naive, brainwashed Russkie, a spetsnatz specialist called in to infiltrate a rebel group in a made up African country ruled, by proxy, by Russia. He’s big and dumb, if resourceful, and it takes a long time for him to realise the oppressors aren’t the barely organised resistance but the Soviet “advisers” and their Cuban puppets. He has to get beaten, betrayed, tortured and taken on an over-long vision quest before he fully understands this, but when he does blood flows and bullets fly.
There’s only one American character in the whole film- M. Emmett Walsh playing a pugnacious little reporter, recording Soviet atrocities on his big tape recorder. The rest of the cast play Africans, Russians or Cubans. This could have been a brave move in a film primarily for an American audience, but was probably its own piece of propaganda. The USA doesn’t interfere in other countries (and hopefully the viewers are naive and brainwashed enough to believe this).
Apart from its No Yanks policy and some good looking scenery, there’s not a lot to distinguish this film. None of the set pieces is outstanding or inventive. And they destroy a lot of Land Rovers, which is a sin. It fills a gap in your action film collection, but it’s nothing special.