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Film / Red Scorpion

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First he was their weapon. Now he is their punishment.

An action film from the year 1988, directed by Joseph Zito and starring Dolph Lundgren.

Lt. Nikolai Petrovich Radchenko is a Spetnaz who is given a mission to help Cuban communists stationed in Africa to get rid of the resistance leader Sundata who's opposing them. But he soon learns that the man is doing the right thing, and eventually joins him in his fight.

The film was followed by a loose sequel in 1995, where a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits special operatives are enlisted to take down an aspiring Nazi ideologists within American soil.


Red Scorpion contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Kallunda Kintash.
  • An Arm and a Leg: When Zayas threatens Nikolai with a grenade, Nikolai shoots his arm off and Zayas ends blown up himself.
  • Bar Brawl: Nikolai starts trouble in a bar as a ploy to get caught by the MP's and befriend Kallunda.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Soviet Gen. Vortek and Cuban Cpt. Zayas.
  • Big Good: Sundata, the leader of La Résistance.
  • Blatant Lies: At the beginning of the movie, during Nikolai's mission briefing, Kallunda and Sundata are introduced as brutal warlords who oppress their people.
  • Bulungi: The films setting, in the Marxist Sub-Saharan country of Mombaka, an expy of Angola and Mozambique.
  • Chase Scene: The escape from Cuamo.
  • Child Soldiers: Seen among Sundata's rebel camp.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Cuban's subject Nikolai to some to get information about his purpose in Cuamo.
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  • Cool Gun: Zayas's FN FAL, modified to look like a Simonov AO-63 assault rifle.
  • Cruel Mercy: Sundata spares Nikolai's life after he tries to assassinate Sundata. However...
    Sundata: I leave you as an insult to your people. They will find him, and see that even their most perfect tools of war cannot harm us. And they will deal with him in ways that ourselves could never bear.
  • Defector from Decadence: Nikolai by the end of the movie.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Sundata's death, Kallunda and the rest of La Résistance lose all hope. Nikolai quickly snaps them out of it.
  • Dirty Communists: Classic Soviet kind and the rarely used Cuban kind are present.
  • Doomed Hometown: Kallunda, after escaping from a Cuban camp and later surviving the Chase Scene, is eager to return to his village... only to find it destroyed by the Soviets.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: After receiving the Mark of the Hunter from the bushman elder, Nikolai throws his dogtags away.
  • Eagleland: Dewey is a mixed case. He's a loudmouth who swears a lot and isn't really an ideal role model, but he is also a reporter working to get local atrocities known and to bring peace to the land.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Nikolai isn't just some Army grunt. He's Spetsnaz.
  • Going Native: The bushman tribe eventually accepts Nikolai as one of their own.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Whenever the Cubans are around, so it's justified.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Nikolai at first pretends to go through this in order to get close to Sundata and assassinate him. After he fails and he's betrayed by his superiors and their Cuban allies, he switches sides for real.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sundata takes a hit from the Hind while saving a little girl and lives just long enough to witness Nikolai's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Hot-Blooded: Dewey. Quoth Nikolai with a grin:
    "He's a very emotional man."
  • Jerkass: Dewey doesn't waste any opportunity to demonstrate his contempt for Russians in general and Nikolai in particular. Justifiable, since he has witnessed first hand the Russians crossing the Moral Event Horizon quite a few times. He eventually warms up to Nikolai during the Final Battle.
  • Kick the Dog: The communists are portrayed here as ruthless monsters, constantly attacking and killing civilians (even children), going so far as to use chemical weapons against them.
  • Kubrick Stare: One rebel gives Nikolai one when he arrives to Sundata's camp.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Averted. The bushman elder is probably the only survivor of a Russian attack with chemical weapons on his tribe.
  • Mighty Whitey: Of course, La Résistance doesn't manage to get rid of the Communists until Nikolai personally leads them to victory.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Nikolai relies on this when he has doubts about carrying out his mission. Later on he decides to rely on the Right Thing after his country betrays him.
  • Noble Savage: The bushman tribe, particularly their elder, who saves Nikolai from the brink of death, teaches him how to survive in the African wilderness and eventually gifts him the Mark of the Hunter, a honor among his people.
  • La Résistance: Sundata's guerrillas
  • Large Ham: Dewey, who spends almost every second of screentime he has showing off his lack of indoors voice and his love for injurious expellitives.
    Nikolai: Noisy little fuck.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    Nikolai: Let's kick some ass!
  • Oh, Crap!: Nikolai's face when Sundata catches him red handed during his assassination attempt says it all.
  • Redshirt Army: Every encounter between the guerrillas and the Soviet-Cuban coalition forces is a Curbstomp Battle in favor of the later, until the final battle.
  • Red Scare: Bonus points for having the distinction of being a Cold War movie made by a future government official.
  • Scenery Porn: The movie was filmed in the Namibian deserts, and there are plenty of beautiful shots of them.
  • Shirtless Scene: Nikolai gets several of these in the course of the movie.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Dewey. For it is the right of an American!
  • Tank Goodness: A tank tries to hinder the escape of Nikolai and company from Cuamo.
  • Use Your Head: Nikolai attacks his first opponent in the bar brawl with a headbutt.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Nikolai had no problem gunning down his own even before he switched sides.
  • You Have Failed Me: Gen. Vortek isn't too pleased with Nikolai's failure to kill Sundata.
    Gen. Vortek: How could you fail? HOW!?

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