Brave white teenagers get ready to kill some Asian stereotypes in Red Dawn.
The remake of 1984 schlock-fest Red Dawn was originally to depict Chinese Communists invading and taking control of America, the invaders’ nationality was changed during post-production to North Korean in order not to miss out on Chinese box-office profits.
Now the remake, which has been in production since September 2009 (MGM went into bankruptcy as the film was being made), has been released and the verdict is… not good.
Salon calls Red Dawn 2012 the “Dumbest ’80s remake ever”:
To be clear: to release a movie today that celebrates the moral right — nay, responsibility — of well-scrubbed American children to kill invaders is like giving a giant middle finger to the people around the world who see us as the invading army, and whose children have died by the thousands already. “Red Dawn” is a ghoulish parody of reality, served up earnestly and obliviously, to an audience whose enjoyment will, perforce, be directly proportional to its ignorance.
Now is the time for a deft and subtle hand to write layered, intricate movies about the realities of insurgent fighting, nation collapse and life under a foreign army. Now is the time to celebrate heroes like Malala Yousafzai for resisting violence and demanding her rights as a human being. Now is not the time for poorly written calls to violence that use the realities of global conflict as window dressing for a testosterone-fueled orgy of violence and retribution (but if that’s what you’re looking for, the 2016 Republican primaries will start in about three months).
In an early review of the remake, Marissa Lee of Racebending was not impressed by the film’s racial politics:
Using CGI, the film’s Chinese invasion was changed to be a North Korean invasion. To the filmmakers, the Chinese and North Koreans were interchangable.
How was the movie? Well, the good news is that, Red Dawn has more Asian faces and Asian American actors in it than any other film coming out this Thanksgiving weekend. They’re just depicting yellow peril invaders! (Hooray?)
The white characters and characters of color are put in equally dangerous situations. It’s just that the story bullets just happen to hit brown kids, and the character development lines just happen to go to the white kids.
One rousing sentiment from the Wolverines is this universalized concept that modern Americans have “inherited our freedoms” and now must fight for those freedoms since America is under attack. Watching the film, there’s this sinking realization that when the film is talking about America, they aren’t referring to people in America who are already fighting for freedoms and have had to actively continue to fight for them.
In Red Dawn, Washington patriots must defend their home by driving out Asian invaders- an unrealistic scenario that has never occurred in history. The historic scenario was essentially the exact opposite: The citizens of Washington, driven by racism, invaded and burned down entire Asian American communities and drove Asian Americans from their homes and out of the State, forcing them onto trains to Oregon.
Roger Ebert found the film to be lacklustre, awarding it 1.5 stars:
The nature of the invasion quickly becomes clear. The North Koreans take over the police department as their headquarters and co-opt the feckless mayor to help them issue pronouncements. His son, Daryl (Connor Cruise), of course joins the Wolverines, who also include Josh Hutcherson. No mention is made of other Spokane high school teams, so it must be just this one heroic team andits recruits who turn back the invasion.
The velocity of events picks up considerably, however, in an endless and mindless combat sequence in which the Wolverines prove to be fierce combat troops and the North Koreans are reassuringly incompetent. The kids, even the girlfriends, are adept at handling heavy-duty automatic weapons, even machineguns mounted on top of captured vehicles (or pointing out the sun roofs of their cars).
Writing in the Globe and Mail, Liam Lacey delivers what should be the final word on the film, “Red Dawn panders to the worst kind of racist and jingoist impulses, though the movie is so preposterously insincere, it feels like those adjectives should be in air quotes.”