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Wednesday 21 April 2021

Burl reviews Red Scorpion 2! (1994)


Ha ha and hi hi, it’s Burl! When you have a lot of VHS tapes, as I do, sometimes you discover a movie you’ve had around for years, unwatched and completely forgotten! I unearthed just such a movie the other day, and while it was easy to see why I’d been ignoring it, once I’d read the copy on the back of the box, I knew I had to give it a look! The movie is Red Scorpion 2, and, as though to atone for the fact that the original Red Scorpion (which I’ve never seen) was evidently shot in South African territory during apartheid, this one was shot in Canada and has as its bad guy a white supremacist cult leader jerk who’s masterminding a series of race-based massacres!

As I’ve often said, in reviews for movies like Malone and Day of the Survivalist and Avenging Force, I always like action movies in which the bad guys are right-wing maniacs, and better still if they’re white supremacists because it’s such a pleasure to see people like that get violently killed by some action hero or another! And our action hero here is Nick Stone, played by Matt McColm, one of the alley cops in They Live! Ha ha, it’s nice to see that he’s gone from the side of the alien fascists to leading an anti-fascist commando squad!

John Savage, a long way from The Deer Hunter and Do The Right Thing, plays Andrew Kendrick, a racist with a strange manner of speech and presidential aspirations, who has assembled a devoted cult and a fighting force of the world’s worst shots! Ha ha, as we see in the climax, none of these clowns could hit the broad side of a barn from ten paces if their lives depended on it! Savage hams it up most extravagantly as the leader of The Citadel, who can set off race-based massacres at the push of a button! We see one of these in the picture’s opening moments, and it’s especially horrific to watch in this day and age!

The hierarchy on the anti-fascist team is as follows: none other than Michael Ironside, beloved from pictures like Extreme Prejudice, Total Recall and McBain, is some kind of colonel, the sort of guy who tells people what to do but then mostly stays behind in command headquarters! Below him is Jennifer Rubin from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, who plays the no-nonsense head commando lady! Below her we find our hero, Stone, and then the rest of the motley squad: a slapheaded computer nerd whose catch phrase is “You have beautiful eyes,” played by Paul Ben-Victor from Metro; a black commando played by Réal Andrews from Wild Thing, who at one point busts into one of the colour-cult’s stupid meetings and calls all the crackers in attendance “eggs with legs;” and a cowboy-hatted fellow who’s just rednecky enough to briefly infiltrate The Citadel before he gets caught and chained to a wall!

George Touliatos from Prom Night plays Grigori, the aphorism-spouting Russian mentor whose job it is to whip this squad into a team! Tethered rock climbing for hours on end is his prescription, ha ha, and it seems only fitting that he meets his end while engaged in just such an activity himself, though he doesn’t die before gasping out one last dumb axiom! Jerry Wasserman from Shoot To Kill plays an investigative journalist who is captured by The Citadel and forced to play “Kendrick’s Roulette” with the his fellow prisoner, the redneck!

Duncan Fraser from The Fly II and Watchers (and Malone, come to think of it!) plays Mr. Benjamin, the racists’ in-house tech specialist, and he gets a fine send-off: shot, set aflame, defenestrated, whereupon he rolls off three different sloping roofs, plummets down into a shed filled with explosives, and has time to emit one last strangled cry before blowing to flinders! Ha ha! Kendrick himself goes out in an even more fiery fashion: beaten, stabbed, then overwhelmed by a fireball as he bellows something about becoming one with the wind!

You’ll gather from this rather scattershot review that Red Scorpion 2 is something of a curio! It’s not a good picture, that much is true, but it’s an amusing one, and, unfortunately, a timely one too! Very few viewers who lived through the years 2016 through 2020 will be able to watch Kendrick conduct one of his rallies and not be reminded of a certain venal oaf who was the President of the United States during that time! The racist cells across the country ready to do Kendrick’s terrible bidding do not seem like such a fantastical concept these days, so it’s extra satisfying to see these people blown away by the doughty Red Scorpion fighting force!

Still, ha ha, we can’t pretend the picture is good! It’s a fairly unique mix of funny and horrifying, but most of the action scenes are pretty half-hearted, the acting is highly variable, and of course it’s all about as dumb as an old plaid shirt! I recommend a viewing nonetheless, and am pleased to give Red Scorpion two little red scorpion tattoos!

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