Two of my generation's most stupidly enjoyable action turkeys now arrive in one handy-dandy little package, thereby giving the nostalgic movie men ample opportunity to kick back, turn up the volume, and enjoy the mindless assets of Red Dawn and Navy Seals without having the Blockbuster clerk giggle at you for renting such goofball war movies.
Historically important for being the very first PG-13 movie ever released, and for temporarily holding the record for being the most violent film ever made (smart move, Valenti), Red Dawn is a movie I really used to love. That was before I learned about things like politics, geography, and logic.
Aside from the non-stop combat violence and periodically silly dialogue, Red Dawn is also notable for its cast. Sift through the silliness and you'll notice folks like Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Ben Johnson, Powers Boothe, and Frank McRae as "ill-fated school teacher."
The plot is so simple it's stupid: Russian and Cuban forces have invaded the American midwest, so a bunch of scared high school students hightail it into the mountains, only to emerge as the vengeance-seeking commando unit known as Wolverines!
Coming off contributions to Apocalypse Now, 1941, and Conan the Barbarian, action-lovin' filmmaker John Milius came up with a "what if...?" war flick scenario that, while certainly not the most realistic concept ever gleaned, was certainly well-received by those who don't mind a little extra dose of ridiculousness mixed in with their rat-a-tat machine gun explosions.
Overlong and underwritten, Red Dawn is most definitely a relic of the cold war, and it's a dated and periodically doofy piece of pro-American jingoism ... but, still ... I'd be lying if I said the movie didn't still work, if only in a guilty pleasure / silly escapism sort of way.
Plus, c'mon: The Dirty Dozen meets The Breakfast Club? That's just awesome.
Charlie Sheen and Michael Biehn (hey, that rhymes!) star as a disparate pair of gung-ho navy dudes, and woe is the sneering terrorist who stands in their way and/or kills one of their friends in a machine gun battle! (Eyes peeled for early peeks at Bill Paxton, Rick Rossovich, Dennis Haysbert, and Joanne Whaley in the Kelly McGillis role.)
Oh, did I just make a Top Gun reference? Well, you'll have to forgive me because, basically, Navy Seals is nothing but a 99-minute collection of Top Gun references. Jammed solid with stock characters, outrageously predictable plot contortions, and more purple dialogue than you could shake an M-16 at, Navy Seals is most definitely a brainless movie, but it's not entirely bereft of entertainment value, even if most of it comes in the "unintentional" variety.
Video: Red Dawn is presented in your choice of widescreen (1.85:1) or fullscreen, while Navy Seals comes in widescreen only. Apparently these discs are just dupes of the original releases, as neither are anamorphic, not do they offer what one would call "excellent" picture quality. Watchable enough, but not too fancy.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 English and French on both titles. Seals has French and Spanish subtitles, while Dawn adds Spanish into the mix.
Extras: Each disc has a theatrical trailer.
The fact that Red Dawn earned the first-ever PG-13 rating, despite being packed to the freaking gills with hardcore violence, tells you all you need to know about the MPAA's hypocricy. I certainly have no problem with movie violence, but COME ON, people.
The fact that Navy Seals is so bad that it became immortal through a Kevin Smith joke, well, that tells you all you need to know right there.