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Original 'Red Dawn' director takes aim at the remake

March 26, 2010 | 11:40 am

Filmgoers who go see MGM's "Hot Tub Time Machine" this weekend will catch several references to "Red Dawn," the 1984 Cold War action film that MGM is remaking.

But ask John Milius, who directed and co-wrote the original, what he thinks of that remake and the answer is simple.

Not much. 

"I think it’s a stupid thing to do. The movie is not very old," says Milius, who’s not involved in the new film  but was given a chance to read the new script. "It was terrible. There was a strange feeling to the whole thing. They were fans of the movie so they put in stuff they thought was neat. It’s all about neat action scenes, and has nothing to do with story."

In the original film, the Soviet Union has invaded the continental United States, and a group of young men and women (Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey) band together as a guerrilla group, nicknamed the Wolverines, to fight off the occupiers.  In the 2010 edition, directed by Dan Bradley and starring Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the villains are the Chinese.

While the new baddies might tap into American fears about a rising China, to Milius it makes little political sense. “There’s only one example in 4,000 years of Chinese territorial adventurism, and that was in 1979, when they invaded Vietnam, and to put it mildly they got their [butts] handed to them,“ says Milius, noting that China built a wall to separate itself from invaders. “Why would China want us? They sell us stuff. We’re a market. I would have done it about Mexico."

“Red Dawn” isn’t the only Milius film getting a new treatment. Marcus Nispel (“Friday the 13th") is making a new “Conan,” a retelling of the mythology that Milius explored in the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian,” which launched Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career.  But Milius is not too psyched about "Conan" either -- or remakes in general. “No one wants their movie remade, especially when the movies take on a life of their own," he says.

--Rachel Abramowit

Photo: "Red Dawn." Credit: MGM


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In one way, I agree with Milius. Red Dawn does not need to be remade. It was bad enough that it should never have been released in the first place. But it was, and it makes a strong statement about what was going on in paranoid America in the mid-1980s. Making a new one about a Chinese invasion is silly. And he's right again, a new story about a full on Mexican invasion (a reconquista) would at least make sense, even if it would just play on a new set of conservative paranoia. Charlie Sheen even gave us a taste of illegal alien invasion in "The Arrival"

Conan was created in 1932 by Robert E. Howard. "Red Dawn" was created by John Milius. "Red Dawn" was thus an original creation for film, while Conan was (ostensibly) an adaptation.

I can understand Milius having a problem with a "Red Dawn" remake, but he has absolutely no grounds in objecting to a new Conan film, since "Conan the Barbarian" is itself derivative of source material of another medium.

RED DAWN was a product of it's time and a movie I loved as a kid in High School. It's been 26 years - and I believe it was the first movie to get the PG-13 rating. Hollywood is either re-making or now the proper term is 're-booting' movies and franchises that are only a few years old - Spider-Man for instance, it's not a surprise that a movie is getting re-made it is surprising that it is RED DAWN.

When we live in a Hollywood culture that is re-booting the Spider-Man franchise - when Hollywood re-makes European and Asian movies for American audiences if not the same year but a year later - because American's can't handle subtitles and get a far inferior product out of it -


Watch the original RED DAWN.


I agree with Milius, and I'd like to add that a remake needs incentives to be made, meaning a remake needs to be *necessary* for a movie to still hold its water. Why remake "Conan" or John Carpenter's "The Thing"? Those movies still work perfectly fine! A remake of "Red Dawn" makes even less sense. There's no ComIntern that could support a Chinese attack, unlike the Russian attack in the original, and during the Cold War an attack scenario was at least somewhat plausible, with a massive Red Army and socialist regimes all over Latin America. But the Chinese? They aren't terriorially expansionist. They have a brown water navy. Hell, they'd cripple themselves badly if they ever tried to go after Taiwan which is right on their doorstep.

Last, but not least, they are a mercantile people. They want to make money, and they are far too shrewd to kill the goose with the golden eggs (=USA). So apparently the logic behind this movie is that China attacks because the USA defaults on its foreign debt to China. So, China, having lost 900 billion dollars does the logic thing and decides to add massive spending to the whole already ripped into its budget by the lack of US payments... yeah, right. ^.-


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