Red Dawn (2012) Text Review

Hello, this is a Korean in America.
Today I will like to talk about the remake of nostalgia fan favorite “Red Dawn”.
I have seen many reviews on YouTube and other mediums saying that this is an unnecessary remake of a movie that was of its time. After seeing the movie, I cannot disagree with this view.
Rather than repeating what have been said before, I decided to take advantage of who I am to say something different. A Korean in America!!
Plot of the original
The original Red Dawn movie was about a small middle American town being invaded by the Russians.
The movie follows a ragtag group of teenagers calling themselves “Wolverine” in reference to their high school football team becoming a mountain based resistance group.

The remake and the North Koreans
The remake has the basic same plot. However, the North Koreans replace the Russians as the antagonists.
North Korea who has basically no navy and an antiquated air force crosses the pacific with enough force to bother with occupying this unimportant town.
For Koreans like me who grew up during the era of high anti-communist/north Korea paranoia, viewing North Korea as this serious enemy is more natural. However, even for me, this setup seems over reaching. If North Korea were to invade someone, it would be us in the south not you American1s!!!
America, Get your own enemies and stop stealing ours!

It’s a high budget TV movie!
while seeing this movie, I got strong sense of dejavu. I’m not talking about the original Red Dawn.
As a sci-fi fan, I grew up seeing TV shows that have humanoid aliens occupying earth. The humans form resistance groups to fight them. You could replace the North Koreans with aliens without changing almost anything in the script.
I mean that this is basically a TV movie with larger budget. The acting, the characters, the story really feels like something you catch on cable sitting on the couch.
While putting my finger the button on my imaginary remote control, I thought….Red Dawn is pretty good.
For this type of movie, the biggest virtue is to never give you the reason for changing the channel.
The pacing of Red dawn is streamlined to never stop and let the viewers think or feel anything. If it slowed down, you would notice that none of the elements in the movie including action is good but just so so.

The mistake!
The only mistake made by the creators is that they miscast both the younger brother and his girlfriend. All the other actors are palatable by CW standards. These two are so terrible and give you a bad taste that you end up actually thinking whenever they are on screen. For this kind of movie, this is a critical problem.
They should have just casted that guy who is in the Hunger game movie in that role. He is in the movie as a minor role.

The dubbed antagonists: the North Koreans
Originally, the villains were filmed to be China. After finishing the movie, some suit at MGM studio only then seemed to have noticed that pissing off China would not fare well for their bottom line.
This change had some odd consequences for the final cut of the film not including the fact that none of the North Koreans look like Koreans. Not all Asians look alike.
First, they dubbed the original Chinese dialog with the thickest and most cheesy North Korean accent possible to imagine for any Korean. It is like doing a Welsh accent when you should do the Queen’s English.
Second, it seems like they only got 2 or 3 voice actors to do all the roles. This in itself is not a problem when they are good at what they do. But it seems like they are amateurs who can barely speak proper Korean not to mention a northern dialect.
Third, the movie has Korean plastered on everything. One the side of the street, in offices…. They’re so noticeable that you think when did they have time to redecorate during an invasion. They must also have an army of interior decorator. But later I got a sense that the movie was over compensating by just “CGing” Korean on every surface they could get away with.

The final thing I got from the movie is that it is actually pretty racist.
As someone who is well versed with Hollywood movies, lite racism is not a new thing. So, I don’t really notice it.
For some reason, it is not the same with this movie. While the American teenagers become commandos after a montage, the north Koreans cannot hit anything even though they spend bullets like water. They must have really logistics…. Of the Wolverines, only one kid is actually killed by a bullet shot by a North Korean and it is in the back doing something stupid.
If you miss the Russians in the original, don’t! They make an entrance late in the movie and actually kill Wolverines. This makes the statement that Russians who are white are bad ass while North Koreans are monkeys with guns who could not hit the side of a building.
Last, at the end of the movie, only the white Wolverines remain. The movie kills all of the other ethnic Wolverines.

While as a theoretical release Red Dawn is nothing noticeable, it is not a bad watch for couch viewing. It actually does a few interesting things the particulars are spoilers. I would not stop you from catching it on cable or video.


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