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Aug 12 2012

Red Dawn Remake: Why?

The original Red Dawn is easily one of the worst movies ever made; Patrick Swayze’s presence alone all but guarantees that. So why in the world would anyone want to see a remake that is bound to be even worse, if only because of the patently absurd idea that North Korea, for crying out loud, is going to invade America, is beyond me. David Axe has already dubbed it the dumbest movie ever.

Where the 1984 original successfully played upon widespread public fears over a supposedly rising and belligerent Soviet Union, the remake expects viewers to take North Korea seriously as an existential threat. We’re guessing the flick is going to get a lot of unintended laughs.

You see, the actual North Korea is a country of 24 million people with a GDP roughly equal to North Dakota’s. It’s an impoverished, even starving, prison state that lacks modern weaponry and any ability to deploy forces globally. If preview clips posted this weekend are any indication, the movie magically gifts North Korea with a huge fleet of long-range transport planes … because it has to. Of course, how these planes get past the U.S. military’s 3,000 jet fighters is anyone’s guess.

The new Red Dawn has been sitting on the shelf for a couple years owing to financing troubles and at least one major revamp by screenwriters Carl Elsworth and Jeremy Passmore. As originally written, the relaunched Red Dawn was only slightly less silly. The bad guys were Chinese. And while China has no discernible intention of invading anyone, much less the U.S., Beijing at least commands a $7.3-trillion economy and an increasingly modern, two-million-man army. But it’s bad business to portray one of the world’s fastest growing film markets as brutal world conquerors, so the producers swapped in North Korea, a country no one counts on for ticket sales.

The phrase “straight to video” comes to mind.

57 comments

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  1. 1
    John Pieret

    What? Not Iran … or Afganistan … al-Qaeda?

    What a waste of anti-Islam paranoia!

  2. 2
    Michael Heath

    David Axe asserts:

    Where the 1984 original successfully played upon widespread public fears over a supposedly rising and belligerent Soviet Union

    I don’t recall such fears in terms of an invasionary force like Red Dawn portrayed. Where at 24 in 1984, I was a prime demographic target.

    That lack of fear largely contributed to it being a dumb movie back then. The original movie did play well in inspiring rural high school jocks to fantasize that their athletic and hunting skills made them superior warriors relative to other countries’ soldiers.

  3. 3
    Lowcifur

    “The original Red Dawn is easily one of the worst movies ever made; Patrick Swayze’s presence alone all but guarantees that.”

    This is the most hateful and ignorant thing that I’ve ever seen on FTB. It’s easily 2% worse than claiming women shouldn’t be harassed at conventions.

    I am filled with sarcastic rage!

  4. 4
    ah58

    WOLVERINES!!

  5. 5
    democommie

    Can North Koreans even see a wolverine and not want to EAT IT, ffs? Or is this going to be an urbanwarfare environment? In that case, perhaps the screenwriters will take advantage of the fact that there are millions of feral felines in the U.S. and have the teen-aged killahs shouting, “Kittehhhhhhs!”.

    I just saw the ad for “Expendables II” and, at least until RDRedux debuts I think it might be a contender.

    I watched parts of the first “Expendables”, it was exceedingly stupid and cartoonishly violent–yeah, I loved THAT shit. But the acting was, well, wtf should we expect from a batch of mostly aging “action heroes”. Maybe they should call it, “The Dependsables”.

    I found this to be somewhat entertaining:

    http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2012/07/expendables-2-defies-chuck-norris-with-r.php

  6. 6
    dingojack

    Why not go the War of the Worlds route? Hell they even made it into a musical!
    Lowcifur – I’ll see your sarcastic rage, and raise it by a ironic flounce!!
    ;) Dingo

  7. 7
    Modusoperandi

    Of course, how these planes get past the U.S. military’s 3,000 jet fighters is anyone’s guess.

    Jeeze, Ed, you have to start using better sources. In the film, the North Koreans have a superweapon that turns off technology somehow. Except for their own technology. And also they shut it off for some reason. And then the Wolverines have to steal it to use it on the NKs. And the NKs keep it near enough to the Wolverines that this theft is possible. And also it then works on NK technology, for some reason.

  8. 8
    steve84

    The video game “Homefront” has a story about NK’s rise to a regional superpower that eventually conquers half the US after its economical and social decline:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homefront_%28video_game%29#Backstory

    It’s a tiny bit more plausible that “Red Dawn”, but the time frame is ridiculously short

  9. 9
    DaveL

    Of course, how these planes get past the U.S. military’s 3,000 jet fighters is anyone’s guess.

    With NK, you wouldn’t need jet fighters – just a fleet of skywriters spelling out “Free Big Macs and blue jeans for all defectors!”

  10. 10
    slc1

    Never having seen the movie, I have no opinion on it (I also have no desire to see it). However, it got a 6.1 rating over at IMDB and 66% audience rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, neither of which is a barn burner but, apparently, folks didn’t think it was chopped liver either.

  11. 11
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Steve84 at 8- Homefront was written by the same people that wrote the script either for the original or remake of Red Dawn, I forget which.

  12. 12
    Chiroptera

    You see, the actual North Korea is a country of 24 million people with a GDP roughly equal to North Dakota’s. It’s an impoverished, even starving, prison state that lacks modern weaponry and any ability to deploy forces globally. If preview clips posted this weekend are any indication, the movie magically gifts North Korea with a huge fleet of long-range transport planes … because it has to. Of course, how these planes get past the U.S. military’s 3,000 jet fighters is anyone’s guess.

    I hear that the original script had the North Koreans taking a foreign-born half-American raised in an anti-American ideology and, after bribing the officials in some state to fake a birth certificate, have him elected President.

    But that was way more implausible than North Korea putting together a long range expeditionary force.

  13. 13
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Damn, there was supposed to be a “supposedly” in that.

  14. 14
    Larry

    The only reason the NKs would invade us would be for access to our vast amounts of porn and bootleg DVDs for dear leader #3. Oh,and lots of tree bark with which they can feed their citizens.

  15. 15
    vmanis1

    Some interesting points about the original Red Dawn.

    1. It involved the nations of Nicaragua (then under the Sandinistas), and Cuba (then under a different Castro) invading the U.S., acting as proxies for the USSR. After seeing the movie, I looked up the populations of these two countries, and decided that they must have used even their aged grannies as paratroopers. Imagine being defeated by an invasion of grannies; how humiliating!

    2. Most of the movie is now a blur in my memory, wolverines attack somewhere, then they attack somewhere else, then, finally and thank God, the movie is over and they’ve won. However, one vivid scene still burns bright in my memory: to defend freedom, the wolverines must pee in a truck’s radiator. Can any greater sacrifice be demanded?

    3. Nobody in the movie, invaders or defenders, ever seemed to worry about supply lines, coordination with other units, or anything even remotely to do with military strategy or tactics.

    4. John Milius, the director. had been a member of the same crowd as George Lucas and Francis Coppola. Both of the latter made movies about Vietnam (according to a biography of Lucas I once read, the resemblance of the Ewok tactics in Return of the Jedi to those of the Viet Cong was in no way accidental). Milius must have been green with envy.

  16. 16
    regexp

    I don’t recall such fears in terms of an invasionary force like Red Dawn portrayed. Where at 24 in 1984, I was a prime demographic target.

    As a teenager in the 80s – I recall a very different feeling. There was some amount of fear in the environment – mostly stoked by politicians and idiotic movies like Red Dawn (which I saw in the theaters) and the Day After.

    Of course – I was also taught that we would run out of oil by the year 2000. The 80s were a rather idiotic time.

  17. 17
    reverendrodney

    Did someone say “WOLVERINES”? Yay, this movie has college football and everything!

    But I digress. This topic and the comments have opened my eyes to something that was obvious all along, which is that fear is highly profitable! Where would Hollywood be without it? Or religions? Or the NRA, or the Tea Party? Or the Pentagon?

  18. 18
    imrryr

    However, it got a 6.1 rating over at IMDB and 66% audience rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, neither of which is a barn burner but, apparently, folks didn’t think it was chopped liver either.

    So, you mean it’s on par with Star Wars Episode 1, the Phantom Menace (6.5 IMDB rating, 62% audience rating)

    Actually, I saw Red Dawn once and remember thinking that it kind of stunk. So, yeah, I’d rank it roughly equal to Episode 1 too. But Red Dawn is slightly better because it’s about twenty minutes shorter.

  19. 19
    ashleybell

    “We’re guessing the flick is going to get a lot of unintended laughs.”

    no it won’t. That’s what the original was for. It was kind of a cult classic and actually pretty fun to watch for the WAYYYY over the top maudlin sentimentality. I’m all for men being able to cry, but red dawn takes it to the limit and over. Seriously the movie is lousy with that ‘I love you bro’ kind of boohooing.

  20. 20
    Chiroptera

    regexp, #16: …and the Day After.

    I remember two miniseries from that time, Amerika starring Kris Kristofferson, about a UN/Soviet occupation of the US, and another one about a Soviet invasion of Alaska to hold the oil pipeline hostage and Rock Hudson as the US President (I just looked it up; it was called World War III). So the theme certainly seemed to strike a chord with the masses.

    But Heath has a point; I think that the more common fear actually concerned a Soviet invasion of Western Europe that is either preceded by a Soviet pre-emptive nuclear strike or followed by a US retalitory nuclear strike. At least that is what I remember.

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    I don’t recall such fears in terms of an invasionary force like Red Dawn portrayed. Where at 24 in 1984, I was a prime demographic target. – Michael Heath

    The fear I remember from the 1980s was of nuclear war, because an idiot called Reagan appeared to be doing his best to persuade the Soviet gerontocracy that he was planning a first strike. Since such a war nearly happened twice in 1983 for exactly that reason (google “Able Archer” and “Stanislav Petrov” for details), the fear was entirely rational.

  22. 22
    RickR

    Jeez, “Red Dawn”. The original was a John Milius red scare jingoistic fapfest. But at least it had, I don’t know, pretty scenery. ashleybell had it right- the mantears coat the screen in maudlin excess.

    Milius CAN do good work, but only if he struggles to keep his worst impulses under control. “Big Wednesday” was a pretty good movie, a character study about a group of surfing buddies facing middle age.
    He did some writing on “Apocalypse Now”. Also, he wrote Robert Shaw’s famous U.S.S. Indianapolis speech in “Jaws”. And “Conan the Barbarian” was a bit of fun.

    But “Red Dawn” was just Reagan-era NRA porn.

    It’s gross.

    We need a remake of it like we need a remake of “Rollerball”, which is also a thing that exists.

  23. 23
    Nick Gotts

    Red Dawn was certainly not the only “Red Peril” fictional propaganda around in the 1980s. One I happen to remember is The Third World War, a novel (to use the term loosely) by a right-wing British general, Sir John Hackett.

  24. 24
    raven

    if only because of the patently absurd idea that North Korea, for crying out loud, is going to invade America, is beyond me.

    It’s been said that any North Korean advance will stop at the first McDonalds.

    They are chronically short of food and during a recent famine, an estimated 1 million people starved to death.

  25. 25
    Alverant

    Small blessing is that this film will be out after the election, but the commercials will be mixed in with campaign ads. I’m hoping it won’t instill fake-patriotism to vote for the white pro-military Republican instead of the not-white guy who would rather negotiate.

    I confess to having some concerns about an anti-asian backlash. The enemies of the movie were, at first, the Chinese, now the NKs and with racism on the rise in this country I wouldn’t be surprised at a few crimes “inspired” by this movie.

  26. 26
    observer

    After reading this post I can’t shake from my head the image of the next remake of Red Dawn. In the third version it will be the North Dakotans who invade and take over the rest of the country, forcing us all to eat lutefisk and hot dishes.

  27. 27
    Modusoperandi

    observer, incorrect. In the next remake the Canadians, disguised as Toronto Maple Leafs on an away game, invade, forcing gay marriage, Universal Healthcare and colourful money on an unwilling populace. The Wolverines rise up and murder the population of Wisconsin after confusing their accents for Canadian ones, because those Wolverines aren’t too bright, doncha know.
    At the end they’re captured by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and their raucous and impolite ways are cheaply and effectively treated with cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals and relaxing reruns of The Beachcombers.

  28. 28
    captstormfield

    This sort of national peril could be avoided if the 2nd amendment was moved up to #1 where it belongs. Any chance the trailers will be mistaken for campaign ads?

  29. 29
    lofgren

    I think it’s fair to mention that original Red Dawn took place in an alternate timeline that resembled the 1984 of our timeline but had a few differences. This is never explicitly stated, but in the conversation with the captured Air Force captain it becomes clear that the world the characters live in is not our own.

    It’s still jingoism even when you couch it in an alternate history timeline, but at least that can be used smooth over some of the inconsistencies. It could be set, for example, in a world where the Korean war went very differently, resulting in a far more powerful North Korea.

  30. 30
    Area Man

    Never having seen the movie, I have no opinion on it (I also have no desire to see it). However, it got a 6.1 rating over at IMDB and 66% audience rating over at Rotten Tomatoes, neither of which is a barn burner but, apparently, folks didn’t think it was chopped liver either.

    The original was a decent action flick with lots of graphic violence (that always sells) and it did do a reasonably good job of depicting the rebel/partisan holed-up-in-the-woods fantasy. What made it hard to take seriously was its absurd premise and sentimentalism.

    I mean, the whole idea here is that the Soviet and Cubans (yes, Cubans) invade the US after a string of highly unlikely events leads to the dissolution of NATO, and then the Soviets have a bad grain harvest and have “no choice” but to launch a hugely expensive invasion of a country on the other side of the planet that exchanges a few nukes with them. If that seems like a reasonable response to an impending famine, you’ve got a better imagination than I.

    The problem with a remake is that not only is the movie not really worthy of one, but the premise has gotten vastly stupider over time, which is really saying something. And the fact that the producers switched out the Chinese after they complained just underscores how ridiculous it all is, seeing as The Evil Empire is such a threat to our very existence that we cave to them through diplomacy so as to preserve ticket sales.

  31. 31
    Chiroptera

    Area Man, #30:

    What made it hard to take seriously was its absurd premise and sentimentalism.

    I mean, the whole idea here is that the Soviet and Cubans (yes, Cubans) invade the US….

    To me, what was even more absurd is how the invasion force managed to make it all the way to Colorado before the Coloradans ever got word that there was an invasion.

    I lost interest in the movie and turned it off at the beginning when (if I remember correctly) the invasion force, for no reason whatsoever, just shoots up the school and the kids and teachers. That sort of tipped me off that this was going to be Cold War “Look How Evil the Other Side Is” propaganda.

  32. 32
    democommie

    “think it’s fair to mention that original Red Dawn took place in an alternate timeline that resembled the 1984 of our timeline but had a few differences. This is never explicitly stated, but in the conversation with the captured Air Force captain it becomes clear that the world the characters live in is not our own.”

    A.) You don’t need to explain this to most of Ed’s commenters/readers.

    3.) The people who DO need to have it explained to them ARE the peckerwood racist anti-inelleckshuals who would shoot folks like us BEFORE going after the commies. On second thought, to them we would BE commies.

  33. 33
    Area Man

    To me, what was even more absurd is how the invasion force managed to make it all the way to Colorado before the Coloradans ever got word that there was an invasion.

    Yeah, this too. Even my 9 year-old self at the time could not suspend enough disbelief to find it plausible. Nor could I understand why landing paratroopers decided to shoot a school teacher and then shoot at the school’s windows, killing innocent kids. I was prepared to believe the commies were evil, just not that evil.

    Still, it was an awesome movie for a 9 year-old.

  34. 34
    Yui Daoren

    If I weed to remake “Red Dawn”, I would change the focus to a group of young folks in Afghanistan dealing with an invading military that, at first, seems welcome as it topples a repressive regime.
    But later…

  35. 35
    brian

    There was actually a story about this on NPR. Apparently, the original intent was to have China in the role of invader, but this would make the film impossible to get through the Chinese censors, and China is a very important market for US filmmakers these days. So you end up with the ridiculous premise that North Korea invades the US.

  36. 36
    Chiroptera

    brian, #35: So you end up with the ridiculous premise that North Korea invades the US.

    For a slightly more plausible foe, they could’ve chosen Iran. In fact, they might have been able to make an interesting movie about a small group — say 300 or so — half-naked young men holding back the Iranian hordes at a small pass….

  37. 37
    ronstrong

    In fairness to the makers of the film, the movie was originally going to have an invasion from China, not North Korea, but the studio had them change it.

    Still sounds like a dumb movie, but the pre-Executive Meddling version was at least a bit more plausible.

  38. 38
    Chiroptera

    ronstrong, #37:

    Especially if they include the part about the Chinese burrowing under the Atlantic Ocean!

  39. 39
    RickR

    Not to mention the added cost of having to CGI out all traces of Chinese army identification/insignia/uniforms/god knows what else.

    This is a dumb situation even by Hollywood standards.

  40. 40
    Marcus Ranum

    Apparently, the original intent was to have China in the role of invader

    … as if the PLA has the logistics train necessary to launch a ’round the globe invasion!

    One think most americans don’t realize is that Europe was so strife-torn because, basically, a lot of the places going to war are within a comfortable day’s drive of eachother. You see that (especially regarding Russia) logistics really comes to the fore when you’re looking at the edges – and, well, we’ve all seen how invading Russia works out.

    Million man armies need ships capable of moving a million men. And those ships need to be protected from air strikes, cruise missiles, submarines, etc – problems that the D-Day forces didn’t face. The D-Day assault was across, what, a 32-mile water obstacle and it was a huge problem. Assaulting North America from Asia… Ooh, let’s sit here while their ships take 40 days (thereabouts) to get here! Gosh! Where are they possibly going to land?

  41. 41
    left0ver1under

    The remake of “On The Beach” was at least plausible (a nuclear war between the US China instead of the US and USSR) although it sucked as a movie. What was said about Patrick Swayze also applies to Armand Assante.

    North Korea invading the US? Cripes, their missiles can barely reach Japan. Who could be dumb enough to believe the fiction that North Korea has ICBMs, let alone the means to transport troops across the Pacific?

    If it had been North Korea invading the South, and all the major players in the region keeping their hands off (US, Russia, China, Japan), that *might* be plausible. But nobody in the US would be willing to watch a movie where the US wasn’t the “heroic resisting nation” (i.e. “ID4″), never that the US has never been the heroic defender.

  42. 42
    Area Man

    … as if the PLA has the logistics train necessary to launch a ’round the globe invasion!

    Or a navy. I mean, China effectively does not have a navy at all. I don’t mean that they literally have no navy, but what they do have is almost purely cosmetic. They recently acquired their first (1st) ever aircraft carrier. It was a decades-old ship that the Russians were using as a museum.

    This is a country that would like to invade Taiwan if it could and reclaim it, but putting aside the diplomatic problems this would cause with the rest of the world, they simply can’t do it. It’s a hundred miles or so offshore, and it’s beyond their capabilities. I think San Fransisco is perfectly safe.

  43. 43
    inquisitiveraven

    Well, right wing KKKristian authors have been trying to sell North Korea as a credible threat for a while.(note: links are to blogs dedicated to deconstructing this stuff and snarking at it).

    Mind you those authors don’t make it any more plausible. Actually, AFAICT, they can’t be bothered to do any research.

  44. 44
    leonardschneider

    Tom Servo? Crow T. Robot? We’re pulling you out of retirement for One Last Big Job…

  45. 45
    democommie

    “In fairness to the makers of the film, the movie was originally going to have an invasion from China, not North Korea, but the studio had them change it.”

    They shoulda called NumbChuck Norris. He has experience in writing plausible screenplays along the lines of “Red Dawn”:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_U.S.A._(1985_film)

    um, maybe not.

  46. 46
    conway

    Worst movies ever?

    Oh, c’mon. It’s a hoot and a half. It like every fantasy every 12 year old boy ever had while staring out of the schoolroom window bored to tears.

    It is pure fantasy, and it does that well.

    Also, Road House rules!!!

  47. 47
    Ichthyic

    In the next remake the Canadians, disguised as Toronto Maple Leafs on an away game, invade, forcing gay marriage, Universal Healthcare and colourful money on an unwilling populace. The Wolverines rise up and murder the population of Wisconsin after confusing their accents for Canadian ones, because those Wolverines aren’t too bright, doncha know.
    At the end they’re captured by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and their raucous and impolite ways are cheaply and effectively treated with cheap Canadian pharmaceuticals and relaxing reruns of The Beachcombers.

    WIN!

  48. 48
    fifthdentist

    Chiroptera @ 36 wins this and any other thread, anywhere, today. That was hilarious.

    This is ‘MURKA!

  49. 49
    Jafafa Hots

    Red State Dawn.

    A non white-male is elected President and a group of high school students grab their rifles and become terrorists. Or something.

    Redneck Dawn?

  50. 50
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Actually, if you want a plausible movie you could cast them as heroic resistance in the face of an armed takeover of America by the Christian Taliban. Of course, that would kill its appeal with the Dumbfuckistani target audience.

  51. 51
    birgerjohansson

    “For a slightly more plausible foe, they could’ve chosen Iran. In fact, they might have been able to make an interesting movie about a small group — say 300 or so — half-naked young men holding back the Iranian hordes at a small pass….”

    Do you think the dumbfuck target audience would approve of a so blatantly homoerotic film (thinks for a minute) Ooops…

  52. 52
    blf

    Ok, who is a plausible invader of ‘merkia?

    Easter Island!

    They have all those kick-arse huge stone warriors moved by magic, and are descendants of excellent seagoing people (some of whose other islands have been blown to bits in nuke testing so they’ve got a grudge), so no problems with the firepower, population imbalance, or logistics.

    And they had a fortuitous signal: The first total solar eclipse visible in c.1300 years a few years ago (2010) — Time to invade ‘merkia!

  53. 53
    Nick Gotts

    Why not a British invasion, aimed at subduing you rebellious colonials and obliging you to bend the knee once more to your rightful monarch? Brits are often the villains in Hollywood productions, and there’s nothing like an aristocratic English sneer to boil the blood of a true American patriot! Of course, we’d have to ask your permission to nuke you if it came to that, seeing as how we only lease the warheads, but it’s still a lot more plausible than North Korea.

  54. 54
    blf

    Nah, the Brits would stop at the first pub (meaning they probably wouldn’t get much west of East Feckingsnowhere), or else half the invading herd — who were told to drive on the righthand side of the road — would collide with the half that weren’t.

  55. 55
    jayhawk

    @34 “to remake “Red Dawn”, I would change the focus to a group of young folks in Afghanistan dealing with an invading military that, at first, seems welcome as it topples a repressive regime.
    But later…”

    This was the first thing I thought of when I heard about the remake of “Red Dawn.” After Afghanistan and Iraq, who wants to watch a movie about the local population standing up to the imperial occupiers/invaders/rescuers/liberators?

    The Wolverines used IEDs, ambushes and guerrilla tactics against the large well-armed force. In Afghanistan and Iraq these people are insurgents and terrorist. Shouldn’t this movie create some discomfort for right-wing war hawks? In the movie, we are cheering the local people for standing up to the foreign army.

    I know that is too much analysis for their “We good guys”, they “bad guys” mentality.

    Also, several comments above imply the Wolverines won. At the end of the movie, all of the Wolverines die without winning back their city. Of course, maybe they won the same way we “won” in Iraq and are “winning” in Afghanistan.

  56. 56
    escuerd

    vmanis1 @15:

    After seeing the movie, I looked up the populations of these two countries, and decided that they must have used even their aged grannies as paratroopers. Imagine being defeated by an invasion of grannies; how humiliating!

    You mean it should have been more like the South Park episode, Grey Dawn?

    Hell, even that episode dealt with destroying the enemy’s supply lines (albeit in a typically absurd South Park manner).

  57. 57
    Ysidro

    If you count parody television skits, there already was a “Canada takes over the US” story. SNL did a parody of “Amerika” called “Amerida.” I can only remember someone (Phil Hartman maybe?) complaining that it was called a “couch” not a “davenport!”

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