Viktor ‘Rosta’ Rostavili (Ed O’Ross) is a well-connected Russian crime lord and drug pusher. After Captain Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is outwitted by him in Moscow, Rosta flees to Chicago to expand his cartel.
Chicago Detective Art Ridzik (James Belushi) is investigating several murders committed by Rosta and his men, and soon apprehend him into custody. Danko flies out to extradite his prisoner back to Moscow, but before they board the plane home they are ambushed and Rosta escapes.
With the help of Lieutenant Charlie Stubbs (Laurence Fishburne) and Rosta’s girlfriend Cat Manzetti (Gina Gershon), Danko and Ridzik are partnered up to apprehend Rosta, but not to cross the line in doing so with their ‘unique’ methods of law enforcement…
Directed by a veteran of the buddy-cop action film, Walter Hill, Red Heat ticks the boxes of what you would expect following his films such as 48 Hrs and Streets Of Fire. Fast-paced, dry comedy and brutal action scenes are glued together by another winning partnership, this time between Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi, a real chalk and cheese match, and eight years before their next on-screen pairing in the more family-friendly Jingle All The Way.
It’s a basic 80s cops v drug baron plot that’s not genre-breaking as different cultures are thrown together to apprehend a dangerous criminal, with one being a fish out of water and the other being a wise-cracking smart-ass. This is always a winning device if done correctly, and thanks to the simplicity of the story and Schwarzenegger’s dead-panning and action in many scenes coupled with the amusing, foul-mouthed comedy veteran Belushi, it does work very well.
The action is well-staged, with plenty of loud shoot outs and fights that crunch bones and spray blood in-between the foul language, but this is a mature film of the time for mature audiences and it’s refreshing to see the film not watered down for family viewing. It’s brutal stuff, but very entertaining because of it. Lots of great one-liners are thrown around too, reminding you how funny it actually is when swearing is used for insulting those you’re closest to, something we don’t hear very often in film today! Oh, to remember the glory days of the 80s.
A strong cast including a young Laurence Fishburne and the slimy Ed O’Ross help carry the film along, with plenty of stereotypical bad guys and molls along the way all with no character development. But what did you expect from this product of the late 80s? You can’t really fault the film for any of those reasons, and if you can overlook Schwarzenegger portraying a convincing tough Communist with a thick Austrian accent, then you’re in good company for a beer-swilling, popcorn-munching 1hr 40mins of entertainment.
For the first time in 4K and Ultra HD Blu-ray, Red Heat is not only brought to old (and hopefully new) fans in crisp picture and sound, as is expected from such a format but also throws in some new extras which always make it worth the investment.
Before Arnie’s return to his defining character of the T-800 in Terminator: Dark Fate on October 24th, the 15min reflection of the man and career is a perfect “in a nutshell” look with Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Man Who Raised Hollywood featuring interviews with co-stars, producers and directors involved in his rise to stardom.
Political Context Of Red Heat is a 9min look at the real-life politics and culture that the film was placed within to make it a little more relevant, controversial in some ways and topical rather than a basic American based outing.
East Meets West is a 9min showcase about the production company Carolco and the players behind the scenes who could bring such a bold Capitalist meets Communist action outing, featuring interviews from those responsible.
A Stuntman For All Seasons is an exciting and emotional tribute to the late stunt performer, director and coordinator Benny Doblins looking at his career and work on ‘Red Heat’ with interviews from past and present cast and crew.
I’m Not Russian But I Play One On TV is a lighthearted 5min interview with American actor Ed O’Ross who gained fame by acting as a Russian so convincingly in ‘Red Heat’ that it became his template for future roles.
Making Of Red Heat is a vintage 80s look behind the scenes of the movie with an 18min feature with cast interviews, a look at the stunt work and what it took to bring the story together and the challenges faced making it.
Throw in a classic 2min 1988 trailer filled with heavy voice-over and funky cowbell, and it tops off a fair selection of bonus materials that will all help remind us why Schwarzenegger was the true action hero of cinema.
Dir: Walter Hill
Scr: Walter Hill, Harry Kleiner and Troy Kennedy Martin
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Belushi, Ed O’Ross, Laurence Fishburne, Ed O’Ross, Gina Gershon
Prd: Walter Hill and Gordon Carroll
DOP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Music: James Horner
Country: United States
Run time: 103 minutes
Red Heat is out 4K UHD BLU-RAY, BLU-RAY, DVD and DIGITAL plus LIMITED STEELBOOK EDITION from 21st October 2019