After failing to catch Georgian drug dealing gang leader Viktor "Rosta" Rostavili (Ed O'Ross), who shot his partner in the process, Soviet police agent Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is tasked to follow Rosta into the United States and bring him back. In Chicago, Rosta escapes custody and Danko is forced to partner with a laid-back and cocky detective, Art Ridzik (James Belushi). They both have to learn to work together in order to find and neutralize Rosta, which isn't helped by the Culture Clash Danko experiences, especially about law enforcement methods.
Not to be confused with the 1985 Girls Behind Bars film of the same name.
This film has examples of:
- Action Insurance Gag: Discussed; Danko and Ridzik tail Rosta's mistress with Danko behind the wheel who does a very sharp that results in Ridzik spilling coffee on himself and giving Danko an earful about careful driving and the price of car insurance before adding that he's sure that Danko was taught about car insurance while at school in Kiev. Danko (correctly) informs him that the USSR does not need an insurance system due to the government owning everything.Ridzik: Yeah, I'm sure they taught you all about cars and the price of insurance at your famous Russian school in Kiev!
Danko: In socialist countries, insurance not necessary. State pays for everything.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: According to the report Stobbs receives, Viktor Rosta's crimes in the Soviet Union include murder, rape, kidnapping, drug dealing, and... currency speculation note
- Artificial Limbs: One of the Georgian drug traffickers accompanying Rosta in Moscow uses his hollow prosthetic leg to smuggle cocaine. Danko makes him trip and reveals the trick.
- The Backwards Я: Used on the opening credits.
- Bald of Authority: Inverted with Abdul Elijah, leader of the Cleanheads gang, who makes his men shave their heads as a sign of faith, but has hair himself.Ridzik: I guess the rules are different for the bosses. Kind of like your government, Ivan?
- Bang, Bang, BANG: Every handgun sounds like heavy artillery, including the tiny derringer that Rosta carries in his sleeve (until he installs the Hollywood Silencer and magically makes it whisper-quiet).
- Bilingual Bonus: A Breaking the Fourth Wall one when Danko enters the Gavin Motel.Danko: Danko.
Clerk: You're welcome!
- Bottomless Magazines:
- Rosta manages to fire several shots with a single-shot derringer in a row.
- Same with Danko's Smith & Wesson Model 29, which can shoot 18 times without reloading. In real life, the model 29 only holds six rounds.
- Buddy Cop Show: A Stealth Parody thereof.
- Capitalism Is Bad: Before departing the Soviet Union for Chicago, Danko is told that Yuri will be avenged and they will protect themselves from "the poison of the West." Later on, Danko's first encounter with American television has him watching an adult movie, leading him to shake his head and scoff.Danko: (derisively) Capitalism.
- Celebrity Resemblance: One Cleanhead reminds Ridzik about a boxer.Ridzik: You look like Marvin Hagler. I lost money on Hagler!
- Chummy Commies: Ivan Danko passed into history as one of very few heroic Soviet characters in Hollywood cinema. A far cry from Ivan Drago less than five years before or Rambo III the very same year, for instance.
- Culture Clash: On one hand, a Consummate Professional and (almost) stone-cold Soviet cop who grew up in communist Russia. On the other hand, a lazy Chicago cop from Chicago.
- Donut Mess with a Cop:Ridzik: I'm gonna get us something from all four food groups: hamburgers, french fries, coffee and doughnuts.
- Fanservice Extra: Plenty of both genders appear in the opening sauna scenes.
- Game of Chicken: The final confrontation with Rosta and the main characters involves them going against each other with buses in a game of chicken.
- Gang of Hats: The Cleanheads are a gang of Scary Black Men with Balds of Evil.
- Good Needs Evil: Viktor mockingly admits to Ivan that there is little point in trying to bribe him, since there is nothing he wants out of life that he could spend money on:Viktor: You are one of those kinds of Soviets who only looks forward to death. I know you well, Vanya. Without me, you don't even exist.
- Echoed by another drug dealer to another detective played by Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: A large portion of the film's dialogue is in Russian. Considering only a few members of the supporting cast were actually native speakers (Savely Kramarov, Oleg Vidov, and Gene Scherer), it can be quite hilarious for anyone with an even passing familiarity with the language.
- Groin Attack: The Soviet method for squeezing information out of a criminal accomplice who refuses to speak.
- Guns Akimbo: Rosta uses two guns during the motel shootout.
- Hand Cannon: Danko's fictional Podbyrin 9.2mm Pistol, made from a .357 Desert Eagle and a Walther P38. Later, he has the pistol taken from him and has to switch for a .44 Magnum, which doesn't impress him much.Ridzik: Captain Danko, congratulations. You are now the proud owner of the most powerful handgun in the world.
Danko: Soviet Podbyrin, 9.2 millimeter, is world's most powerful handgun.
Ridzik: Oh, come on, everybody knows the .44 Magnum is the big boy on the block. Why do you think Dirty Harry uses it?
Danko: Who is Dirty Harry?
- Husky Russkie: Danko. A stoic Soviet cop who starts the film with a Shirtless Scene to show off his Heroic Build (bonus point with the brawl in the snow), handles Hand Cannons without bothering about the recoil... You name it.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Victor shoots at Danko at least five times during the climax, not one bullet touches him.
- The Informant: Streak, the "pile-of-shit pimp" mentioned in the page quote.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: After Ridzik's attempts to makes an arrested goon of Rostas tell them who when and where a deal is going down backfires due to Ridzik planting drugs on him and the man becoming more unco-operative, Danko grabs him by the arm and slams him into a wall before twisting his balls to squeeze the who, when, and where out of him. He immediately tells them who and when but when he doesn't say where, Danko twists them harder and the guys swears on his balls that he doesn't know where it's happening and Danko lets go.Danko: Soviet method more economical.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Viktor Rosta, defending his plan to ship $5 million worth of cocaine to the Soviet Union: "Any country that can survive Stalin can certainly handle a little dope."
- Miranda Rights: Has to be explained to Danko. He doesn't fully get it, but he gets around it when he's harassed later on by a street punk.
- Monumental Damage: During the bus chase, after Danko runs over a fountain.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Arnold's accent doesn't sound American, which was enough for him to play a Russian. A Deleted Scene established his character to have been raised in East Germany, somewhat justifying his accent.
- Nothing Up My Sleeve: Rosta has a hidden derringer in his sleeve.
- Odd Couple: Consummate Professional Husky Russkie Danko and Cowboy Cop Ridzik.
- The Piano Player: The Moscow bar in which Danko shows up to arrest Rosta and his gang has a honky-tonk piano player, who also sings with his deep and raspy voice.
- Police Are Useless: Lampshaded by Danko:"Chicago is very strange city. Your crime is organized, but your police are not."
- Also lampshaded by Ridzik during the bus chase:"Where the hell are all the cops? Damn, they're never around when you need one, you know that? You make a U-turn, and they're all over your ass. Where the fuck are they?"
- Also lampshaded by Ridzik during the bus chase:
- Prophet Eyes: Elijah, who is blind.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Danko has a pet bird and he isn't happy when Ridzik says that it would be more fitting for a girl.
- Red Light District: The hotel where Danko is staying is situated in such an area.
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Georgian gang led by Rosta. If their murders don't sell the "ruthless" part, then Rosta's death glares do.
- Shared Universe: With Extreme Prejudice (which was also directed by Walter Hill), as both feature a man named Lupo (and as promised in the other film, he's wearing white here).
- Sharp-Dressed Man: While working the detective beat, Danko swaps out his Moscow Police uniform for a nice bottle-green suit, which he wears very well even though it earns him the nickname "Gumby" from Ridzik.
- Short-Range Shotgun: During the raid on the drug den, Ridzik kicks open a door revealing a Cleanhead armed with a large shotgun. The door swings shut and Ridzik takes cover moments before aforementioned Cleanhead shoots the door into kindling!
- So Much for Stealth: Ivan Danko is trying to sneak up behind Viktor Rosta when his watch alarm (set to tell him when to feed his pet bird back in Moscow) goes off.
- Strange Cop in a Strange Land: The "capitalist" world of Chicago is quite alien to Danko.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: "Мне нужен Роста, Виктор Роста!"In English
- Trust Me, I'm an X: Ridzik, subduing one of the "Cleanheads" with his pistol:FREEZE, MOTHERFUCKER...! Don't get nervous, I do this for a living.
- Two First Names: Abdul Elijah.
- Vodka Drunkenski:Commander Donnelly: Since I figure cops are cops the world over, how do you Soviets deal with all the tension and stress?
- Your Mom: Viktor calls Ridzik a motherfucker in his native language ("Еби свою маму в задницу!"In English ). When translating into English, Danko applies Tactful Translation by telling Ridzik, "He say, 'Go and kiss your mother's behind.'"