[[quoteright:330:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/red_dawn_movie_image_3684.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:330:[-The war to liberate the Mickey D's begins...At Dawn.-] ]]
->''"Soviet Union suffers worst wheat harvest in 55 years... Labor and food riots in Poland. Soviet troops invade... Cuba and Nicaragua reach troop strength goals of 500,000. El Salvador and Honduras fall... [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking Greens Party gains control of West German Parliament]]. Demands withdrawal of nuclear weapons from European soil... Mexico plunged into revolution... NATO dissolves. United States stands alone."''
-->-- ''OpeningNarration''

The classic RedScare film, released in the darkness immediately preceding [[FromBadToWorse glasnost]].

After the opening narration, we cut to a classroom of teenagers in scenic Colorado. Their little piece of America gets invaded by Soviet and Cuban paratroopers. Six students manage to get away in [[TheHero Jed Eckert]]'s truck and escape to the mountains, where they become guerillas against the new communist regime. They're joined by two girls, Toni and Erica, and later [[TrappedBehindEnemyLines downed pilot]] Colonel Andy Tanner, who teaches them some basic military tactics. Oh, and they have guns.

Also noted for being the first onscreen pairing of Jennifer Grey and PatrickSwayze (who later costarred in the classic ''DirtyDancing'' to the [[{{Squee}} delight]] of {{fangirl}}s everywhere), the first film to be released with the PG-13 rating, and (for fans of film music in general and Creator/BasilPoledouris in particular) the first soundtrack album released by Intrada.

For the 2012 remake, see ''Film/RedDawn2012''.
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!!Tropes:
* ActionFilmQuietDramaScene: When Colonel Bella writes a letter to his wife near the end of the film. It's a surprisingly touching scene.
* AdultFear: The film's entire concept is built around this, especially for Americans whom the idea of being invaded by a foreign power seems distant. Summary executions of family members, neighbors turning into TheQuisling for the occupation forces, being forced into fighting against an overwhelmingly powerful hostile military by hiding out in the woods, hunted like animals.
* AnalogyBackfire: Only if one assumes this was analogous to the USSR invading Afghanistan. Many Taliban fighters gained experience repelling the Soviets, and would later use those skills attacking civilians. And, ironically, Americans.
** Then there's this:
-->'''Colonel Ernesto Bella:''' ''[in the now-occupied Calumet, Colorado]'' It would seem necessary to win the support of the people. As our opponents used to say in Vietnam: "Win their hearts and minds."
-->'''General Bratchenko''': And they lost, Ernesto.
* AntiVillain: Colonel Bella, who is an officer in the Cuban army, but finds himself sympathizing with the Wolverines.
* AnyoneCanDie: Even girls, subverting MenAreTheExpendableGender.
* AxeCrazy: Robert slides down the rungs.
* BattleCry: ''[[ClifftopCaterwauling "Wolverines!"]]'' The Wolverines are the school football team. The protagonists leave the spray-painted symbol of their mascot at the site of ambushes.
* BigBadEnsemble: Colonel Ernesto Bella, General Bratchenko, and Colonel Strelnikov. General Bratchenko seems to be the one in charge, Colonel Bella is perhaps TheDragon (and the most sympathetic), and Colonel Strelnikov is the most dangerous.
** BiggerBad: The Soviet Union at large.
* BilingualDialogue: Cuban and Soviet troops speak Spanish and Russian respectively, with subtitles. Played for laughs in one scene when a Russian officer playing tourist [[FunWithForeignLanguages pretends to translate]] a forestry sign, saying it commemorates a bloody Indian revolt. What he says is actually a history of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_War Colorado War]]. Apparently he really ''DidTheResearch''.
* BittersweetEnding, The kids lose their innocence and [[spoiler:all but two lose their lives]], though it's suggested by the Partisan Rock memorial that AmericaWinsTheWar.
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: The History teacher at the beginning of the movie is the ''very first person'' killed onscreen when he walks up to some [[ItsRainingMen heavily armed paratroopers]] thinking they're American soldiers in training who landed in the wrong place and goes out to greet them.
* BrokenBird: It's [[IllKillYou strongly implied]] that one of the girls was raped by Soviet soldiers.
* TheChainsOfCommanding: Jed.
* ChildSoldiers: The movie does a good job of showing how warfare can psychologically scar child soldiers.
* ClifftopCaterwauling: ''Wolverines!''
* ClickHello: "You lose."
* ColonelBadass: Both [[CoolOldGuy Tanner]] and [[WorthyOpponent Bella]] qualify.
* CreatorKiller: John Milius' carer never was quite the same after Red Dawn.
* CurbstompCushion: During the initial Soviet assault, an American chopper appears twice to attack and harass the enemy (including a rare example of TheCavalry saving the heroes at the ''beginning'' of the film). Throughout the rest of the film, the American military is repeatedly referenced to still be in the fight, if not near enough to help the Wolverines.
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: Colonel Strelnikov "The Hunter", who not only thinks of ways to track (and later trap) the Wolverines, but also orders the reprisals against civilians to stop as it only creates support for them.
* DayOfTheJackboot: The USA has been taken over by the communists. Who will save us, if not teenagers?
* DeathFromAbove: Early in the movie, a lone American helicopter shows up a couple of times to strafe or fire rockets at Soviet positions, serving as TheCavalry in a GunshipRescue at one point. Gets an IronicEcho towards the end when a pair of Soviet Hind gunships slaughter half the group. Also, towards the last act of the film, we see American jets doing bombing runs in "No Man's Land".
* DefiantToTheEnd: The first group of civilians executed by way of reprisal for the Wolverines' attacks dies singing ''America the Beautiful'' in the face of the Soviet firing squad.
** Also Robert, [[spoiler: facing down a Mi-24 HIND helicopter with just his AK.]]
* DirtyCommunists: Averted; though the movie doesn't stint in depicting communist atrocities, some of the enemy soldiers are portrayed as human beings rather than evil faceless mooks.
* DoomedHometown
* {{Drive-In Theater}}: Now used as a POW and indoctrination camp.
* EagleLand (Type I, of course.)
* EliteMooks: Soviet ''Spetsnaz'' are brought in to track down the Wolverines. They're as effective as all the other mooks. They may however have been the ones responsible for the ambush that got [[spoiler:Robert and Toni]] killed. Colonel Strelnikov is also the one who kills [[spoiler: Jed and Matt, although Jed kills him too]].
* EtTuBrute: [[spoiler:The revelation that one of their own has betrayed them signifies a turn for the worst for the Wolverines fortunes.]]
* ExactWords: Early in the movie, a bumper sticker appears, with the popular slogan "[[TemptingFate They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers]]". The camera pulls back to show a Soviet soldier stepping on a dead man's wrist and prying a handgun from his fingers, which have gone into ''rigor mortis''.
* ExecutiveMeddling: Writer-director John Milius wanted to focus on the [[WarIsHell war is hell]] aspect, while the studio pressed for a more idealized presentation. The most obvious result of this is the tacked-on epilogue, which explicitly states that Americans won the war due to bravery of fighters like the Wolverines. Without it, the movie would have left it open if the efforts of the Wolverines changed ''anything'' in the end. The darker approach shows through in several places, such as how many of the heroes meet their ends in meaningless deaths.
* ExpandedUniverse: A thread on Alternate History.com, which got to 335 pages (!) as of April 2011 before moving to [[http://www.tboverse.us/HPCAFORUM/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=31 its current location]], is a so-called "double-blind what-if" in which posters role-play veterans of the war depicted in the movie. Much discussion on weapons and campaigns of the war, as well as on the fates of surviving movie characters; for example, [[spoiler:Colonel Bella ended up defecting to the Allied side shortly after the events of the movie, became a U.S. citizen and helped U.S. authorities track down war criminals after the end of the war.]]
** [[RedDawnPlus20 Now has its own TVTropes page]].
* FacingTheBulletsOneLiner: America, the Beautiful.
** Also the Spetsnaz prisoner about to be shot by the Wolverines. "Dogface! [[{{Lzherusskie}} I show you how soldier dies!]]"
* FellOffTheBackOfATruck: Part of the final trap that decimates the Wolverines.
* GagSub: There's a {{Rifftrax}} version of it.
* TheGreatPoliticsMessUp: Peace broke out with the Russians what, a year after this was made? And it's not like it was the height of the Cold War either, despite military overspending... But then again, the movie takes place in an AlternateHistory anyway.
* GunshipRescue: The movie would have been about 30 minutes long if not for an Army helicopter gunship arriving just in time to clear a path for the heroes to escape into the woods.
* [[spoiler:TheHeroDies]]: Which contributes to several more tropes being played straight.
* HeroicSacrifice: Several.
* HeWhoFightsMonsters:
-->'''Tanner''': "All that hate's gonna burn you up, kid."
-->'''Robert''' ''(carving 'kill' notches on his AK-47 with a balisong)'': "Keeps me warm."
** Jed also shows signs of it, though he is clearly bothered by what he becomes.
* HollywoodToneDeaf: It could be argued that the Russians do not execute the prisoners [[ForTheEvulz For Fun And Evil]], but to stop them from torturing cats (i.e. "singing" ''America the Beautiful''). [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRxr_vzc5m4 Listen here]] if you dare.
* HopeSpot: When a group of Russian helicopter gunships attacks the Wolverines, one of the kids manages to [[ImprobableAimingSkills nail one with an RPG]], only for the helicopter to [[NoSell suffer only minor damage.]]
* ImproperlyPlacedFirearms / RareVehicles / JustPlaneWrong: Generally averted with [[WeaponsUnderstudies mock-ups]] ranging from machine guns to APCs and helicopters, though a sharp-eyed weapons buff can still tell the difference. EliteMooks use the AK-47 rifle (or at least an effective facsimile, mocked up from the same Egyptian AK copies used by the other "Soviet" extras), rarely seen in movies made before the collapse of the Iron Curtain. A mock-up of a T72 tank was so accurate it reportedly caught the attention of two CIA men who wanted to know where it had come from.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: Tanner needs one after the kids express their ignorance of common military tactical terms.
* InsertGrenadeHere: When the group is pinned down by a tank (which doesn't see them) one of the main characters attempts this but gets hurt pretty badly and is unable to complete the task. [[spoiler:Instead he sets off a smoke grenade so that an American tank can spot the camouflaged Soviet tank and blow it (and him) up.]]
* InvadedStatesOfAmerica: Shining example.
* ItsUpToYou
* LaResistance: The Wolverines after getting their hands on numerous weapons.
* UsefulNotes/TheLawsAndCustomsOfWar: A captured soldier starts giving his name and rank, and gets promptly beaten up.
-->"No one gives a damn who you are!"
** In the same scene,
--->"This violates the Geneva Convention!"
--->''"I've never heard of it!"''
*** To be fair that soldier had no right to complain about Geneva Convention violations considering that his squad was tracking a man whom his side had tortured and forced to swallow a tracking device. Not to mention all the civilians his side had been murdering until recently. And the Wolverines are not soldiers either, so the Geneva Conventions don't apply.
* MinionWithAnFInEvil: Colonel Ernesto Bella is initially introduced in a way that suggests he's the movie's BigBad. However, not only is he not in charge of the local occupying force, but is shown to be far more reasonable than his Soviet counterparts (he criticizes them for the stupid tactic of shooting civilians after every Wolverine attack, saying that they're only gaining support because of it, which he knows from having been an insurgent in the past). He eventually becomes increasingly disillusioned with the war to the point where after the Eckert Brothers' last stand, he momentarily holds them at gun point before ''letting them go'' and dropping his gun in disgust. In other circumstances, Bella could well have been a classic WorthyOpponent.
** In the scene where civilian prisoners/hostages are executed after the Wolverines make their first kills of Soviet soldiers, Bella is clearly far more disgusted by the [[TheQuisling town mayor's]] horrified reaction than by the defiance of the executed hostages.
* MissingBackblast: Averted: In the final battle two of the American guerillas fire their RPG-7's at the command trailer used by a Soviet general. An enemy soldier who comes round the corner behind them at that precise moment falls to the ground screaming as he's been scorched by the backblast.
** Subverted in at least one scene, where one of the Wolverines loses his hat while firing an RPG-7.
* MonochromeCasting: Aardvark is the only Hispanic amongst the otherwise all-white Wolverines. For that matter, the history teacher is the only black man in the movie. [[BlackDudeDiesFirst He lasts all of three minutes]]. Possibly justified due to the rural setting, where minorities are rare.
* MoodWhiplash: The movie keeps shifting between pure {{Narm}} (often with lines about patriotism and fighting spirit) and genuinely dark moments.
* NeverTrustATrailer: One trailer shows Erica getting harassed by several Soviet soldiers, and when she tries to run away, they run after her - the implication being that they wanted to rape her - before being mowed down by her fellow Wolverines. In the actual film, those soldiers were just messing with her. Then Erica surrendered a lunch basket to them with a bomb in it, which promptly blew up their tank - only ''then'' did the soldiers give chase to her before being killed by the Wolverines.
* CaliforniaDoubling: The movie was filmed in Las Vegas. New Mexico. A small town where the plains and mountains meet about 100 miles south of the Colorado line. With the exception of a few mentions that they're in Calumet, Colorado no effort is made at all to hide it's actual location. New Mexico license plates are even visible everywhere. Likely a case of unfortuate implications as moving the setting to Colorado likely justified the monochrome casting. In fairness it might also have to do with Geographic ignorance where many believe New Mexico is not part of the United States. New Mexico magazine even has a humorous section titled "One of our Fifty is Missing" to show examples of this ignorance.
* NotSoDifferent:
** The Soviet soldiers in general. When they're not getting shot or blown up, they talk about their families, goof around, invent hilarious translations for English signage, and otherwise act a little like tourists.
** One of the Wolverines asks this when Jed is about to execute both a captured soldier and [[spoiler:the mayor's completely unwilling [[TheMole turncoat]] of a son]].
--->'''Matt''': What's the difference, Jed? Tell me, what's the difference between us and them?
--->'''Jed''': Because...[[OccupiersOutOfOurCountry WE LIVE HERE!]] ''(shoots soldier)''
** Colonel Bella gets his moment as well when the aftermath of a Wolverines raid [[HeelRealization reminds]] him of his own guerrilla fighter past:
--->'''Bella''': I have seen this before. But these are my men!
* NukeEm: Precision nuclear strikes wipe out silos in the Dakotas, plus key communications points like Omaha, Washington, and Kansas City. Further strikes are averted by the Soviets' need to take the United States intact. Other countries though...
-->'''Jed Eckert''': Well, who *is* on our side?
-->'''Col. Tanner''': Six hundred million screaming Chinamen.
-->'''Darryl Bates''': Last I heard, there were a billion screaming Chinamen.
-->'''Col. Tanner''': There ''were''. ''(tosses his booze on the fire, so it gives out a great burst of flame)''
** Still doesn't explain what happened to the other two-thirds of the nuclear triad. You know, the dozen or so Ohio Class Ballsitic Missle Submarines just waiting for the order to fire to come down, or Strategic Air Command, which had the distinct tendency to keep Bombers in the air at all times, just in case SOMETHING EXACTLY LIKE THIS HAPPENED.
* OccupiersOutOfOurCountry The whole movie is about this.
* OneSidedBattle: The Wolverines regularly wipe out [[{{Mooks}} larger forces]], even though guerilla doctrine advises using a large number of guerillas to attack much smaller army units. There is some thought given to tactics however, such as making an ambushed force take cover in an area covered by claymore mines, or [[WeNeedADistraction using the girls to plant bombs]]. Also by the end of the movie all except two of the Wolverines have been killed.
* OvernightConquest: The Soviet conquest of large parts of the USA is performed in a matter of days. Subverted in that the Americans are said to have rallied and stopped the Soviets cold on every front, leading to a bloody stalemate with [[InvadedStatesOfAmerica a substantial portion of the country under enemy occupation.]]
* PragmaticVillainy: As stated above, Bella opposes killing civilians not because it is morally wrong but because it increases support for the Wolverines.
** The Soviets using the gun store records to round up civilian weapons is a pretty obvious TakeThat from John Milius to gun control pushers and their gun registry laws, but making sure nobody in the occupied territory can shoot back is indeed a ''very'' effective strategy for an invading force, regardless of politics.
* PrecociousCrush: Erica falls in love with older and married Colonel Tanner, though there's nothing physical between them except a bit of tussling.
* TheQuisling: Mayor Bates. Unusually for this trope, he's clearly following the enemy out of fear alone, and justifies his actions with the belief that his cooperation will make things easier on his people. He is obviously terrified and disgusted by his town's [[DayOfTheJackboot new occupiers]]. It's an impressively realistic portrayal of a collaborator under an occupation.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: The Wolverines at peak strength are two high school brothers, a cowardly friend, a bloodthirsty friend, a younger friend, a set of sisters they pick up, and a downed airman.
** Plus [[TokenMinority Arturo Mondragon]]. Everyone forgets Aardvark!!
* RealLifeWritesThePlot: The SovietInvasionOfAfghanistan inspired the film.
* ARealManIsAKiller: Robert drinks the blood of the first deer he shoots, and notes he likes the taste. He eventually ends up the most AxeCrazy of the Wolverines.
-->"Then you'll be a real hunter. My dad said that once you do that, there's going to be something different about you, always."
* RealitySubtext: ''Red Dawn'' was made during a time when the Soviet Union was aggressively expanding its interests across the globe. Nobody dreamed it would be [[TheGreatPoliticsMessup gone in only seven years]].
* RecycledInSpace: [[RippedFromTheHeadlines The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan]]....in America!
* RedsWithRockets. And [[TankGoodness tanks]]. And [[ItsRainingMen paratroopers]]. And [[DeathFromAbove Hind gunships]]. And [[MoreDakka ZSU-23-4 self-propelled]] [[AntiAir anti-aircraft guns]].
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: Unarmed prisoners and [[CoupDeGrace enemy wounded]] are shot by the Wolverines.
* ShmuckBait: The Wolverines see a Soviet truck drop some supplies on the road so clumsily that it screams too easy, yet they get them without suspicion and pay the price as a Soviet helicopter attacks.
** Jed is clearly extremely suspicious... but he's also so tired of having to crush the others' hopes and dreams of being able to enjoy themselves that he gives in to temptation and lets them have some "normal" food (and thus pays the price).
** They were also probably starving by that point.
* ShoutOut: An evil Russian soldier named [[Film/DoctorZhivago Strelnikov]], for one. His introduction also resembles that of Colonel Matthieu in ''Film/TheBattleOfAlgiers'': first seen in a military parade, then lecturing his staff on counterinsurgency tactics.
** In one scene Robert imitates JohnWayne flinging his scabbard off his rifle in TheSearchers.
** The code phrases broadcast by Radio Free America are a nod to those used to alert resistance groups during WorldWarII. "John has a long mustache" was also one of the code phrases depicted in ''TheLongestDay''.
* SpotTheImposter: On being asked what's the capital of Texas, Colonel Tanner replies "Austin" and is immediately accused by Toni of being a DirtyCommunist. He replies that [[YouWatchTooMuchX she's seen too many movies]]. It doesn't help that Tanner's answer that Austin was the capital of Texas was correct, while Toni was certain that ''[[WhatAnIdiot Houston]]'' was its capital. Likely a ShoutOut to a well-known incident during the Battle of the Bulge (see the RealLife section of SpotTheImposter).
* TankGoodness: One scene features a long-range duel between Soviet tanks and an American tank in the distance. The Soviet tanks are camouflaged, [[spoiler: and a mortally wounded Tanner [[HeroicSacrifice sets off a smoke grenade to mark the Soviet's position for the American tank]].]]
* TookALevelInBadass: The Wolverines. They start out as fairly normal high-school kids, and end up causing the invaders all sorts of grief.
* TruthInTelevision: When the film was released, NPR had a former member of the Dutch Resistance give a review of it. He said the movie exactly portrayed the life of a partisan force, including the desperation, mistrust, and "cannibalism" (ie, "swallowed a bug" scene) that occurs.
* VillainBall: The Soviets invade, and the first (on-screen) thing they do is shoot up a school?
* VoiceOfTheResistance: Radio Free America.
* WarMemorial: The Wolverines carve the names of their fallen allies into Resistance Rock. The epilogue reveals it was turned into a formal memorial after the war.
* WarriorPoet: When Col. Bella writes home to his sweetheart, it's nothing if not beautiful.
* WeaponsUnderstudies: SA 330 Pumas stand in for Mi-24 Hind-A gunships since the actual chopper wasn't the sort of thing you could borrow back in the day. The mockup ended up in several other 80s films as well.
* WorldWarIII: And that's why you see Soviet soldiers in front of an American fast food joint up there. The sides are apparently the US, UK, and China against the USSR, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
* YanksWithTanks: A single M1 Abrams appears briefly, curiously unsupported by other armor or infantry.
** In the same scene, two Russian tanks are also unsupported by infantry. In fact, their only anti-infantry defense is a single man on the mounted machine gun on one of the tanks.
* YouMeddlingKids: And the Reds [[ItsUpToYou would have won]], too.
* YourMom
-->'''Spetsnaz about to be executed:''' Dogface! [[{{Lzherusskie}} I show you how soldier dies!]]\\
'''Robert:''' I've seen it before, pal.
* YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters: The movie essentially transplanted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to a different setting, placing a group of typical American youth in the roles of the Afghan freedom fighters. Which becomes HarsherInHindsight considering what [[OsamaBinLaden they]] [[WarOnTerror caused]].
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