Red Heat (1988)

red heat poster 1988 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Decent action sequences

Not as explosive as Schwarzenegger's other films from the time, Belushi feels tacked on an underdeveloped

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Red Heat

Studio:  Carolco Pictures/Lone Wolf/Oak Pictures

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 14, 1988 (Premiere)/June 17, 1988 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

red heat arnold schwarzenegger moscow militia uniform

Bang…you’re dead

Captain Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been sent to the United States to retrieve the Georgian drug smuggler Viktor Rostavili (Ed O’Ross) responsible for the death of his partner.  When Rostavili is taken from custody, Danko finds himself teamed with Chicago detective Art Ridzik (Jim Belushi) in a race against time to prevent a massive drug deal from going down and stopping Rostavili from escaping justice.

Directed by Walter Hill (who scripted the film with Harry Kleinner and Troy Kennedy Martin), Red Heat is an action-police buddy picture.  The movie received average to positive reviews and a strong box office.

Action movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger exploded in the 1980s.  The movie always seemed to have kind of generic titles and premises that were rather extreme.  I never saw Red Heat despite seeing many of Schwarzenegger’s film (and honestly got it confused with Raw Deal which I also didn’t see).  Red Heat is a nice throwback action film that kind of underwhelms at points.

red heat jim belushi

Hey…aren’t you John Belushi’s brother?

The movie became rather irrelevant in a few years.  The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, and the Soviet Union fell in 1991.  Watching the movie is a reminder of how tense things were between the countries.  The “buddy” aspect of the movie feels rather underdeveloped and it doesn’t feel like the two characters really are at the same level of commitment (at one point, Belushi bows out and claims it is “very Russian”).  It feels like it is a movie about Schwarzenegger’s character with Belushi shoehorned in.

Schwarzenegger is a good fit for the movie.  His Austrian accent is a good cover for a Russian accent which was sometimes a struggle in his early movies.  Belushi feels like he’s just there.  His character is underdeveloped and he’s good for a few quips, but he isn’t necessary for most of the plot…Schwarzenegger does fine by himself.  They have a nice supporting cast including Peter Boyle, Lawrence Fishburne, and Gina Gershon.  Ed O’Ross is also a solid “bad guy” with his icy glares.

red heat viktor rostavili ed oross

That’s right, Arnold…other people can do an intense stare

In comparison to some of Schwarzenegger’s other action movies, the action feels a bit toned down.  There is a crazy fight at the beginning in the sauna and then not much for a long period of time.  The showcase action sequence involves the bus chase in downtown Chicago.  It is good, but similar chases since Red Heat (like the Terminator sequels) dwarf it.

Red Heat isn’t the best action film of the 1980s, but it is better than some.  It has what you’d expect from a Schwarzenegger film, but I wish it pushed it a bit harder and developed the characters more.  Red Heat could have been a great film and I’m actually surprised we didn’t get a sequel…where Ridzik headed to Moscow.  It would have only made sense.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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