Dolf Lundgren and the director of Invasion U.S.A. and Missing in Action making a Russian orientated Rambo-type film! Sign me up! With a combination like this I went into this film expecting another entertaining B-action film in the vein of Joesph Zito's previous action outings. Sadly without Cannon Films banking it seems Zito fails to provide us with his magic he did previously and instead makes a rather tedious action affair.
Lundgren is the "Red Scorpion" of the title (like you couldn't figure that out!). The Russian government sends Lundgren, their top soldier, to Africa to hunt down and kill a rebel leader that is giving Russian bases some flak. Lundgren infiltrates the group by look like a deserter but along the way ends up becoming empathetic towards the rebels views. His government in turn tries to exterminate Lundgren so Lundgren gets angry and bullets begin to fly.
I won't lie, I came out of Red Scorpion extremely disappointed. It starts off all right but quickly degrades into a nearly actionless display of Lundgren living with some natives. It does have two good action sequences, especially the climax but that comes an hour and a half too late. The production values are also rather flat and the lighting for one thing looks really cheap. It's nice to see lovable character actors M. Emmet Walsh and Brion James present but they are in mostly thankless roles
Dolf Lundgren is perfectly cast as the nearly speechless title character and these are the roles he was made for. Many action films make the mistake of having him talk too much and as if anyone couldn't notice, he can't act worth a damn! So when he has less lines to say, the tougher he seems. I also really dug the few Tom Savini effects sequences where a torturer sticks metal spikes into Lundgren and especially when Lundgren shoots the arm off a guy holding a grenade at the end. That last one gets me to laugh every time
Sadly a few cool effects sequences and two solid action sequences aren't enough to keep Red Scorpion from being a dud. It just doesn't have the same flair as Zito's previous action outings and sadly this film pretty much killed Zito's career. Perhaps if Cannon financed the film it would have been gloriously bad but as is it is just bad. A sequel did follow in the early 90's but it was just a sequel in name alone.
Written By Eric Reifschneider