Dolph Lundgren Africa, Jack Abramoff, Jack Abramoff Africa, Jack Abramoff apartheid, Red Scorpion
Although not related to DC in any specific way, a few weeks ago I watched the ‘Africa movie’ – Red Scorpion – produced by the disgraced lobbyist, Jack Abramoff. It was without question the most tortuous 100 minutes I’ve put myself through on Netflix. Wikipedia reveals that the film had a budget of over 15 million dollars. I may use that figure as evidence of excessive spending from the right if ever pushed in an argument (quite a shame that Abramoff could raise that capital but Danny Glover cannot manage to raise the funds to produce his opus on the Haitian revolution).
I hope that much of that budget went to supporting the salary of Dolph Lundgren, who at the time the movie was produced (1988 I believe) was emerging as a relatively prominent action star. There is certainly no redeeming quality in the movie to indicate that the money was spent on plot development or any other redeeming feature.
The plot basically follows how a Soviet secret agent (Lundgren), begins to question Soviet involvement in the unnamed African country (but aside from the desert setting, the parallels to Angola are obvious). He becomes close to a lieutenant of a Jonas Savimbi like character, and while no South African troops are around, they escape from the clutches of several attacks by the Soviets and Cubans. A rather annoying American journalist is thrown in for a feeble attempt at comic relief.
The movie plays on the most blatant African stereotypes – Lundgren traipses around the bush with giraffes and other wild animals in the background, prostitutes at an army base open the first scene, exotic bushmen and their bizarre foods nourish Lundgren back to life after a scorpion attack and give him a tribal tattoo, and I am sure the list continues at an extensive clip.
Hollywood has managed to make several entertaining African movies in my opinion (Lord of War most notably, I didn’t find Blood Diamonds or The Last King of Scotland too shabby either). Unfortunately, Red Scorpion comes nowhere close. Aside from its superficial examination of the Angolan situation, the film plods along at a rate that qualifies it as one of the dullest action films ever.
Further examination of Abramoff’s African connections may offer some interesting insights. Apparently he attended the Democracy International confab in Angola in the 80’s that drew together an array of anti-communist fighters and he supported the apartheid regime in South Africa in its twilight years.