Red Dawn 1984 original

4* for outdated now, but still credible tear-jerker. I might have adored teen Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze) leading classmates if I had seen the first 1984 version of this scary patriotic war story then as an America teen. Even now my eyes teared up. When boys had their hair long, girls permed, both in tight jeans, everyone was afraid of the Reds (Russian and Cuban Communists), atomic bomb, armageddon. Waking up to enemy invasion was absolutely real. Is rousing even now for teen viewer to identify with high school kids fighting back against cruel authority.

Patrick Swayze is dead from cancer now, a hero in another way, then visibly muscular jock Jed Eckert. With his brother Matt (Charlie Sheen), knowledgeable about mountain survival, they camp, fish, hunt, start guerrilla warfare, scrawling Wolverines, school team mascot name on wrecked enemy vehicles. Downed pilot Lt. Col. Andy Tanner (Powers Boothe) is object of affection for girl ("tell me about your wife" I'll never love again"), rather than leadership. Captured doomed father Tom (Harry Dean Stanton) in prison camp has cameo "Avenge me!". Lots of sickly sweet tear-jerker moments I would have appreciated more when younger, less cynical.
At the end, reduced to four, the brothers sacrifice themselves attacking the headquarters as diversion while Erika and Danny flee to liberated territory. The Cuban Colonel, himself originally a guerrilla, waves the Eckerts free (to die). Jed shoots the Russian hunter who took them down, shouting "You lose", but is shot himself. Jed carries (dead) Matt to a (familiar?) park bench "we'll wait for dad, he's coming soon". Torture was implied then "you don't know what they do" from unwilling traitor Daryl turned in by mayor father then forced to swallow tracking device.
I may see the remake, looks to have older cast; baby boomers have aged. Probably keep lots of shooting and explosions, may be more violent and bloody. Tough lesson, but important, to remind those who have not had to go to war about some of suffering by those who have.

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