Tonight, I saw the new Red Dawn. Red Dawn comes in two flavours. The first, from 1984, is a classic piece of late-Cold War Red Scare Hollywood fantasy. In it, the Soviet Union (backed by the Cubans!) invades America, and the opening scene - of Airborne troops dropping on a sleepy town in the US and machine-gunning a school - is wonderful. Not least because of the panning shot from a Sheriff's car with the bumper sticker 'They'll Take My Gun From My Cold Dead Hands'... to the dead Sheriff on the ground, having his Browning Hi-Power taken by an Airborne trooper.
The second, the newly released remake, is a fantastic piece of cheesy action in which the Red Dawn of the original has been replaced with some serious Yellow Peril - in the form of a surprisingly modern and well-equipped Korean People's Army. In it, the economic collapse of the West leads to the breakup of NATO and the resurgence of a Pacific Rim Coalition involving (from the brief shot of the flags) Iran, Russia, China and North Korea among others. Possibly even that well-known military superpower, Venezuela, but it wasn't clear. Then the dastardly Commies invade! With the help of, apparently, EMP weapons, which render completely useless almost all of the US defence.
And in both, as the Airborne troops fall, the local High School American Football team take up arms to defend their town against the, well, highly-trained, well-equipped, enemy army. It's worth going to see, although be warned! there is a high level of cheese, including a Marine who speaks entirely in cliches, with dialogue like "This is a shit sandwich without the bread" and "A Marine with his rifle! The finest ass-kicking weapon in the world!" But for all that, the action scenes are great, and the hilariously Russian Spetsnaz men - who appear to be in there mainly to prevent accusations of racism - add wonderful comic relief. Plus, the sight of Jocks and cheerleaders taking up arms "like the VietCong, mujahideen, or even the Minutemen" against the tank-driving, Humvee-stealing, digital-camo'd, KPA is just too brilliant to pass up on.
Brilliantly, of course, the modern remake originally featured the Chinese People's Liberation Army. Once you know that, the uniforms and everything else makes a lot more sense. So why was it changed to the KPA? Well, the Chinese said "No." and that was that!
Anyway, what does this have to do with wargames? Well... I want to get Force on Force even more now. Arrrgh! So many periods! So many shiny toys! So little disposable income! But, even allowing for a long delay in actually getting into ultra-modern alternative universe gaming, there were lots of scenes that would make amazing Tomorrow's War scenarios, so for wargamers who like to get ideas from films, I recommend this.
Similarly, and in a much more British vein, the rebooted Savage! from 2000AD in which Volgs (Russians) invade and occupy Britain in the 2000s is a wonderful source of scenarios, and - at least in the first series, with Charlie Adlard as artist - treats the concept with the power it holds and demands. When your heroes set car bombs and use suicide vests, particularly in the context of the never ending War on Terror, it can be an amazing tool to analyse and critique political and military decisions and actions. Of course, such things never really trouble either version of Red Dawn, despite lines like "For them, it's just a place" and "We are the bad guys - we bring chaos!".
As a final note, when the US military finally captured the late dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the operation took its codenames from the 1984 film. Although, of course, the US were here playing the part of the Soviets.
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