Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 27th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1989
Director: Joseph Zito
Writers: Jack Abramoff, Robert Abramoff, Arne Olsen
Cast: Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh, Al White, T.P. McKenna, Carmen Argenziano, Alex Colon, Brion James
BluRay released: June 12th, 2012
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Synapse Films
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
Red Scorpion was Joseph Zito, who’s other notable films include, The Prowler and Missing in Action. Other key collaborators on Red Scorpion include cinematographer João Fernandes (Devil in Miss Jones, The Nesting) and composer Jay Chattaway (Maniac, Maniac Cop).
From a action film stand point, Red Scorpion has all the ingredients that one would expect from a 1980’s action film. Like first rate action set pieces and a larger than life protagonist.
Unfortunately when it comes to the plot, things are not as some sailing. After a well executed opening set up. Things quickly get bogged down as the plot meanders from one moment to the next. And at 106 minutes in length there is plenty fat that can be trimmed from this film.
With that being said, whether you are going to enjoy this film or not come down to one thing. The performance of its leading man Dolph Lundgren (The Punisher, Universal Soldier) in the role of Lt. Nikolai Rachenko, aka ‘Red Scorpion’. His performance in this film is very similar to the performance he gave for the film Rocky IV.
Though none of the performances outside of Dolph Lundgren’s leave any lasting impression. The supporting cast features a few recognizable faces like M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner, Blood Simple), T.P. McKenna (Straw Dogs), Carmen Argenziano (The Accused) and Brion James (Blade Runner, Crime Wave).
Red Scorpion was made at the tail end of the 1980’s. When the ‘Red Scare’ had all but lost its sting. With some of the better ‘Red Scare’ films being Red Dawn and Rambo III.
Red Scorpion comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. This is another strong transfer that does a superb job retaining the intended look of the film. There are no problems with compression or edge enhancement and grain looks natural throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English. Both audio options sound great, as dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced and robust when it needs too. Also included with this release are removable English SDH.
Extras for this release include T.V. spots for the film (3 minutes 8 seconds – 4:3 full frame), a trailer for the film (1 minute 55 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a image gallery with music from the film playing in the background, original on set behind the scenes footage from Tom Savini (9 minutes 11 seconds – 4:3 full frame), three interviews, the first one with actor Dolph Lundgren (24 minutes 54 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the second interview with producer Jack Abramoff (13 minutes 26 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and the third interview with special effects make-up creator Tom Savini (10 minutes 5 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a audio commentary with director Joseph Zito and moderator Nathaniel Thompson. Though the interview with Dolph Lundgren primarily focuses on Red Scorpion. This interview also covers all of the films that he made leading up to Red Scorpion. In all this is a well rounded retrospective of the early part of his career. The interview with producer Jack Abramoff discusses how he got involved in this project, the political tone of Red Scorpion and he also reminisces about the cast & crew. The interview with Tom Savini is a detailed look into this films special effects. Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the difficulties of shooting on location in Africa, the cast and various other production related topics. Also included with this release is a reversible cover art and a collectable booklet with liner notes about the film. Overall Red Scorpion gets a first rate release from Synapse Films.
Note: Also included with this combo release is a DVD copy that has all the contents that are included on the BluRay counterpart.