Knockin' on Heaven's Door
is a German Buddy Comedy
from 1997 about two terminally ill young men, Martin Brest (Til Schweiger) who has just been diagnosed with a big brain tumor and Rudi Wurlitzer (Jan Josef Liefers) who suffers from bone cancer, who meet and decide to have some fun during the last few days they may have to live. Rudi tells Martin that he has never seen the ocean before, so Martin decides he wants to get his new buddy to the ocean. They steal a Mercedes roadster and escape from the hospital. However, it's two brutal but bumbling gangsters whom they steal the car from, there's a gun in the glove compartment, and in the trunk lies a briefcase with a million Marks inside
. Frankie Beluga, the two gangsters' boss, orders them to get the car and the money back. Meanwhile, since they've got nothing to lose anymore anyway, Rudi and Martin start their own criminal career.
The title is of course borrowed from Bob Dylan
, but the theme song is a Cover Version
who go by the name DIGITAL ELVIS & ZERO.
Contains examples of:
- Badass Beard: Abdul's facial hair. Also, the motorcycle cop played by Hannes Jaenicke sports a five-o'clock shadow.
- Bank Robbery: Martin robs a bank to be able to pay for his and Rudi's clothes. That's before they know about the Briefcase Full of Money in the trunk of the Mercedes. Shortly after he leaves, Henk and Abdul try to rob the same bank to gather a replacement car, just to find out someone has already emptied that bank.
- Big Bad: Frankie Boy Beluga.
- Bittersweet Ending: The two protagonists do reach the ocean. Rudi's dream has come true, as has Martin's who hasn't seen the ocean before either. Martin sits down in the sand and, in the last shot but one, simply falls over dead.
- Bottomless Magazines: After the failed bank raid, Henk and Abdul shoot dozens and dozens of bullets into two police cars. The police try to shoot them as they escape, but police guns have limited ammo.
- Brand X: TVL2 is an obvious stand-in for the German TV station RTL2.
- Briefcase Full of Money: That thing serves as Rudi and Martin's wallet after they've found it.
- Co-Dragons: Henk and Abdul may be idiots, but they're not to be underestimated.
- Cool Car: The Mercedes 230 SL. Also, the pink Cadillac that Martin buys for his mother. Actually, Honest John's Dealership is filled with half junk, half Cool Cars.
- Cool Shades: Worn by Henk and Abdul.
- Dare to Be Badass: Martin, twice. Once when he decides to take that last road trip with Rudi, and then when he finds the gun in the car.
- Deadpan Snarker: Martin. Then again, it's Til Schweiger.
- Drives Like Crazy: Abdul.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: One of the gangsters manages to blow up a police car by shooting a shotgun at the front grill three times. Although there shouldn't be anything remotely explosive in that part of a Ford Sierra, this seems perfectly normal, the police know in advance what's going to happen and take cover.
- Fair Cop: Rudi and Martin get the jump on two police officers. First they order them to hand over their guns. Then they tell them to strip. Cue the male police officer putting on a big grin as he looks over at his partner, who's a hot blonde female (when we later see them tied to a chair, she's wearing sexy lingerie).
- Fake Nationality: The German actor Moritz Bleibtreu plays Frankie's Arab henchman Abdul.
- Free Wheel: The separate wheel we see rolling away after Rudi and Martin crash the Capri is actually the spare wheel.
- German Dialects: Most of the movie takes place in the Rhineland.
- Grammar Nazi: Henk when he corrects Abdul.
- Guns Akimbo: Abdul dual-wields Walther P88 Compacts, and one of Curtiz' goons dual-wields Uzis.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Abdul doesn't need much of a reason to draw one of his guns on someone, including Henk. Also, he apparently shoots at cops just because they're there.
- Hammerspace Police Force: And all of a sudden, Rudi and Martin are chased by some two dozen police cars.
- Hand Cannon: Henk's .45 Colt M1911A1.
- Honest John's Dealership: Where Henk and Abdul try to acquire a replacement for their stolen Mercedes, and where Martin buys the pink Cadillac for his mother.
- I Ate What?: Bull testicles.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: No matter how much Henk and Abdul shoot, they never actually hit anyone. Not even at a distance of five feet.
- The shoot-out between the police and the reinforced gangsters between the corn fields is particularly grotesque. Hundreds of shots are fired out of dozens of guns, some of which are fully automatic, and all that is riddled with bullet holes are cars.
- The Last Dance
- Like You Were Dying: Two-way between the two protagonists, sort of.
- The Man Behind the Man: Curtiz.
- Mood Whiplash: Rudi and Martin as wannabe gangsters who keep fooling the police, incompetent gangsters, throwing lots of money about, the film can be so hilarious. But suddenly, in comes a scene which reminds us of the tennis ball-sized lump in Martin's skull. Or police or gangsters having the two at point blank. Or Martin gives his mom a big pink Caddy as a gift.
- More Dakka: Dual Uzis on full auto, anyone?
- The big police vs. gangsters shoot-out as a whole.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Henk and Abdul are instructed to never leave the car unguarded. If they have to pee, one goes, and one stays with the car.
- No Export for You: Despite the film's worldwide acclaim, it has never been released on any home video formats in the US (it was given a brief theatrical release in 1999 though).
- Noisy Guns: When the gangsters load their various guns, they produce quite a lot of noise, yes.
- Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: What Martin pulls off with the police is more like Put Down Your Guns and Strip Down.
- Road Movie
- Surrounded by Idiots: Frankie's problem is that his two henchmen are morons.
- A Threesome Is Hot: One of the things Rudi wants to spend his money on. A couple of Dutch hookers oblige.
- Trunk Shot: The scene in which Rudi and Martin find the Briefcase Full of Money in the trunk of the Mercedes.