The original Red Dawn featured a number of awesome things: John Milius, Patrick Swayze, Harry Dean Stanton screaming “AVENGE ME!” to his sons through the chain-link fence of a Soviet work camp; and a certain tiger-blooded, Adonis-DNA’ed serial winner who was then at the height of his powers. It was an overwrought action flick/melodrama, to be sure, but it was also a cultural marker: the age of détente was over, and the age of Reagan had arrived in full.
By contrast, the long-stalled remake has become a sick joke. To wit: MGM has taken the extraordinary step of digitally scrubbing the film of all references to Red China as the invading villains — substituting dialogue, removing images of Chinese flags and insignia etc. — because “potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower.” All without the PRC even uttering a single word of protest.
And who are the new invaders? North Korea. That’s right, the starving-to-death, massively brainwashed “Hermit Kingdom.” I imagine at this very moment, Hollywood script doctors are working on a revised first act in which Kim Jong Il decides it’s a good idea to let hundreds of thousands of his captive countrymen travel to America.
The North Korean horde — lacking a blue-water navy and any airborne capacity to speak of — would then, I imagine, travel through Russia and cross the Bering Strait into Alaska, living off . . . er, the land or something . . . before eventually making its way to Michigan, where the film is set. Or wait, even better! The Norks sneak across the 38th parallel, through the DMZ, and steal most or all of the U.S. Pacific Fleet while the U.S. Navy is on shore leave!
Yessir, it’s practically cinéma vérité.
Amazingly, this film has managed to become a sort of self-referential warning, a pop-cultural Liar’s Paradox. That is, the awfulness of the new Red Dawn is the strongest argument there is for why we need a new Red Dawn.