By Jason Apuzzo. A $75 million movie from MGM about a Chinese communist invasion of the United States. A brazenly patriotic smack-down of Obama-era socialism.  Centering around an Afghanistan war vet.    Starring Tom Cruise’s son. Featuring music by Toby Keith. With a plot devised with help from the RAND Corporation.

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A hard-core remake of Red Dawn.

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I know what you’re thinking – because it’s what I’ve been thinking since I first heard details about all this several days ago.  This is all some sort of gag, right?  Hollywood doesn’t do this sort of thing.  This isn’t the 1980’s anymore.  Wake up!  This is the era of Avatar, of Fahrenheit 9/11, of Sean Penn hanging with the mullahs in Iran.  The communist Chinese aren’t our enemy – they’re our friends!  They make our TVs and T-shirts and disposable ink cartridges.  Our real enemies are American corporations, environmental polluters, and all those blonde chicks on Fox News.  Get your head in the game, Apuzzo.  You’re daydreaming again!

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Apparently not.  Difficult as this is to believe, MGM is indeed now in post-production on what appears to be an extravagantly hardcore remake of John Milius’ 1984 film, Red Dawn.  Details of the project are starting to emerge from people who’ve read the script (see Latino Review’s synopsis of the plot here, or The Awl’s account here), and to say that the new film’s creators are ‘pulling no punches’ would be an understatement.  The new Red Dawn looks to be one of the most intensely anti-communist films since My Son John from 1952. Yet it’s set in the world of today.

First, let’s back up a bit.  If you’re not familiar with the original Red Dawna minor film in its day that’s become something of a cult classic – the film depicted an all-out invasion of the United States at the height of the Cold War by the combined forces of the Soviet Union and communist Cuba.  We never really see much of the invasion, however, or learn a great deal about its immediate provocation.  Almost the entirety of the film is spent following a spirited resistance group made up of high school kids played by then up-and-coming stars Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey.  Basically, the kids get hold of some weapons, fight the Russkies in the Colorado hills, kick a lot of commie-Spetsnaz ass, and otherwise shout “Wolverines!” (their high school mascot) about every 5 minutes when they aren’t speeding away in a pickup truck.

Meet your liberator.

The film came out while I was in high school, and I thought it was a hoot – although one sensed at the time that the filmmakers were struggling somewhat against their modest budget.  Like a lot of high school guys at the time, I had the hots for Lea Thompson – I was a lot more interested in her than in the AK-47s and RPGs, frankly – but still I liked the concept of fighting commies on American soil, and Red Dawn delivered on that score like few films I’d ever seen.  [Chuck Norris' Invasion U.S.A. raised the ante on that scenario  the following year - the 80's were really something.]

In the new Red Dawn, the invading Chinese army apparently uses the pretext of America’s current economic decline to invade.  Here’s how AOL’s Daily Finance site summarizes the plot:

Set against the backdrop of contemporary politics, the film begins with an American withdrawal from Iraq. The President decides to redeploy troops to Taiwan, where escalating Chinese militarism is threatening America’s ally. At the same time, he also welcomes the former Soviet republic of Georgia into NATO, unleashing Russian worries that America is spreading its sphere of influence deep into Eastern Europe. Having destabilized relations with two of the world’s largest powers, the President then claims that the U.S. is only partly to blame for a global economic meltdown, further escalating tensions with China and ultimately leading to the invasion of the Pacific Northwest.

The RAND Corporation apparently had some input on this scenario.  And as invasion scenarios go, this is a reasonably plausible one – for a Hollywood thriller, at least.  What’s more interesting to me are the actual details of the Chinese-communist occupation.  While details are still a bit sketchy, a lot is given away from behind-the-scenes photographs from the set.  I’ve put together a little collage below of what are apparently propaganda posters spread by the film’s Chinese invaders:

Are we getting the picture here?  Is it just me, or is there something distinctly Obama-esque about these posters?  What these posters reveal is that the Red Dawn remake may actually go where the original film did not go (largely due to the fact that the original was made during the Reagan Administration), which is in equating certain tendencies in contemporary American liberalism with Chinese-style communism (!). That would be an extraordinary thing for a Hollywood studio to do nowadays. The UK’s Guardian reports, for example, that the Chinese have American ‘collaborators’ who help them in their occupation.  [Shades of V here.]  I wonder who those ‘collaborators’ would be?

To reiterate, I’m still stunned by all this.  I’m expecting to wake up and find it’s all a dream – that I’ve been floating in one of those alternate-reality tanks from Avatar, believing that I’m still living in 1985 and reading a Tom Clancy novel after football practice.  I have a million questions, all of which boil down to: how did this movie get greenlit?  How did this one slip by?

All the right people are getting angry about this film: specifically, the state-controlled Chinese press, and The New Yorker.  The Awl is absolutely furious over the film, and you can sense the familiar rhetorical patterns forming: that the film is ‘racist,’ ‘paranoid,’ ‘Sinophobic,’ ‘provocative,’ etc.  Of course, it might be interesting for someone to ask the Tibetans or the Taiwanese what they think of all this.

For more details about this film, visit the MGM website or this Red Dawn fansite, and we’ll otherwise keep you updated on all this as more information becomes available.  Here is some behind-the-scenes footage of the film’s shoot in Michigan.  The film will be released November 24th, 2010. It’s being directed by Dan Bradley, a stunt coordinator and second unit director who’s worked on some of Hollywood’s biggest productions (Independence Day, the Bourne films, the Bond films, the Spider-Man films, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, etc.) The film will star Connor Cruise (son of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman); Chris Hemsworth of Star Trek, and Isabel Lucas of Transformers.

Final footnote: the one time I met John Milius a few years back, we spent about three hours talking about the White Rajah of Sarawak … and about Mao.  Although John wasn’t involved in writing this new film, I’m wondering what he thinks of all this.

[UPDATE: Special thanks to Michelle Malkin's site for linking to this post.]

[UPDATE #2: I just spoke to an executive at MGM, and he provided us with some exciting details about the film.  Additionally, he confirmed a few basic points about the film: 1) the negative cost for the film is actually around $42 million; 2) Red Dawn as yet has no release date due to the complex situation at MGM; 3) Connor Cruise appears in the film, but is not actually the film's main star.  We'll have a lot more to report about Red Dawn down the line.]

[UPDATE #3: Special thanks to the LA Times' Patrick Goldstein for linking to this post, and for his very kind words about our site.]

[UPDATE #4: And thanks to our old friend Greg Pollowitz at National Review and Kyle Smith for linking to this piece.]

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23 Responses to “The Red Dawn Remake: The Return of the Red Scare?”

  1. [...] } The Red Dawn Remake: The Return of the Red Scare? Libertas Film Magazine ^ | June 8, 2010 | Jason [...]

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Clotilde, Ralph Thayer. Ralph Thayer said: Hard-core remake of Red Dawn: brazenly patriotic smack-down of Obama-era socialism. #film #cinema #sgp #tcot [...]

  3. [...] Here are some pictures of those posters taken on the set of the movie: [...]

  4. Cool Cal says:

    I think this is a bit of the tail wagging the dog. They wanted to remake Red Dawn, but there is no longer a serious Communist threat as dire as the Soviet Union. China is a clunky equivalent to the soviet invaders we saw in the original, especially since China, unlike Cuba and North Korea, is slowly liberalizing, especially economically. While they are certainly still communist, they are on a path towards a more liberal system that is no doubt the result of the free market. This is one of the reasons liberals are also “Sinophobic”, though they’d be loath to admit it. This film, on the contrary to your article seems a typical Hollywood treatment. The NYT and any number of “progressive” media outlets decry the outsourcing of American industry to the Chinese every other day, nary mentioning communism. And let’s not forget, the tax return forms in fully liberalized Hong Kong can fit on an index card. No, I think the Chinese are an appropriate Great Satan for Hollywood liberals.

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Thanks for the comment, Cool Cal. There are many sides to this issue, obviously. The Chinese are certainly liberalizing, but they are a very long way from resembling a Western style democracy. The government’s behavior toward Taiwan and Tibet (not to mention their own population) suggests an uncertain future that may or may not involve the kind of peaceful transformation we saw in Russia at the end of the Cold War. Personally I think they make a highly appropriate villain in this new film.

  5. I’m completely shocked that they’re making this. How did this happen? What’s the catch? I’m sure the critics are going to completely tear this film apart, no matter what the quality of it is. I just hope the conservative public supports this.

  6. shinsnake says:

    I hate to be cynical when something seems to be moving along so well, but I can’t help but think the ending is going to reveal some corporate American conglomerate like Walmart who has been manipulating China into invading the US or something like that. Hollywood has been Lucy too many times for me to gleefully run toward the football yet again as Charlie Brown.

  7. Alexa m. says:

    Wow … This is very interesting Jason … Great coverage and photos … Can,t wait to see this!

  8. K says:

    There was an interview with Milius a month or so ago on the web. He didn’t like the fact that the Chinese were the bad guys and he cited their very limited history of invading other countries, and the fact that the Vietnamese chased them when they tried it on their southern borders. The interviewer didn’t ask him if he had talked to anyone from Tibet lately.

  9. Shane says:

    Actually, considering the stranglehold that political correctness has on our culture right now, I’m shocked that they’re remaking this movie. But then again – they’re “remaking” it – it could end up being a two hour long lecture on why America failed and why we deserved to be ‘occupied’. Does anyone know if Thomas Friedman was involved in writing the script? (Sarcasm alert)

    Seriously – I don’t trust today’s Hollywood to make this film in any way other than antagonistic to the pride many Americans feel about their country. Look at the war movies that have come out over the last 10 years – they’re almost all preachy, leftist babble made more to admonish rather than entertain. What makes anyone think they’ll do anything different here?

  10. Trojan Horse says:

    The Chinese may be liberalizing economically, but they are definitely not liberalizing politically. They still continue to spy on their own people, they have a massive fire wall up on the internet that prevents their own citizens from accessing most sites around the world, they practice rigorous journalistic censorship, they continue to crack down on Tibet and arrest dissidents … What they’ve figured out is as long as they keep the money flowing in by allowing there to be special economic zones (such as around Shanghai) where capitalism is allowed, then they will have the economic power to build up their military and crack down on their population as much as they want.

    They’ve studied what happened to the Soviet Union – which fell apart because of its economic problems – and they’re not going to let that happen to them. China is making a gigantic amount of money now by allowing in capitalism in certain areas – and they have what they want. (Everyone needs to be clear though, they do not have a capitalistic system in most of China – capitalism is only allowed in special economic zones that are still under heavy state control.) They are an economic superpower on which the rest of the world is dependent for its manufacturing – and now whenever they feel like it they can do what they want politically. China has basically evolved from Communism to Fascism, and we all need to watch out.

  11. M. Riva says:

    Isn’t this scenario just a little unlikely? I like the poster designs, however.

  12. [...] Jason Apuzzo over at Libertas….lip-smacking sounds emanate from his general vicinity as he discusses how “Red Dawn,” a $75 million production due in November, promises to be a thundering [...]

  13. [...] soon: A remake of Red Dawn: A $75 million movie from MGM about a Chinese communist invasion of the United States. A brazenly [...]

  14. [...] Red Dawn remake a return to American kickass! [...]

  15. JASON says:

    I think you’re a whining liberal ninny complaining about a movie you haven’t even seen because it attacks your little Marxist friends and human rights-abusers. Like you guys say every time the Right complains about an immoral Jesus-bashing movie: “Lighten up! It’s just a movie.”

  16. Wollf says:

    You are SO linked. I have just a little teeny piece of the Inner-toobs, but a few Biggers visit regularly. I am looking forward to this movie!

    *oh, my bad….Wolverines!!!*

  17. [...] Earlier reports had noted a November 24 release, but it seems various issues means there is now no set date. [...]

  18. El Gordo says:

    It may turn out to be good, may turn out to be bad. And it does not sound very realistic. But shocking the sensibilities of the Chinese doesn´t worry me. I have been exposed to the anti-American propaganda of many countries, including China, and if anything they owe us an apology. Sauce for the gander and all that.

    Long story short, I´ll go see it.

  19. DirtCrashr says:

    We don’t need China to invade, we generate a lot of anti-American propaganda right here in the USA!

  20. Toejam says:

    Who are they going to get to play the role of Patrick Swayze?

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