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Red Dawn is a 1984 American war film directed and co-written by John Milius and written by Kevin Reynolds. The film is set in an alternate timeline during the mid-1980s, and deals with an invasion of the United Statesmarker by the Soviet Unionmarker and its Central American allies. However, the onset of World War III is merely in the background of the plot and not fully elaborated upon. The story follows a group of American high school students who resist their foreign occupiers through guerrilla warfare and call themselves the Wolverines, after their high school mascot.

Red Dawn was the first movie in film history to be released in the US with a Motion Picture Association of America PG-13 rating. At the time it was released, Red Dawn was considered the most violent film by the Guinness Book of Records and The National Coalition on Television Violence, with a rate of 134 acts of violence per hour, or 2.23 per minute. National Review Online has named the film #15 in its list of 'The Best Conservative Movies'.

Plot summary

[[Image:Red dawn 1984 movie start of ww3.PNG|left|300px|thumb|Approximate map of the events described in the movie.

Blue: The United Statesmarker and its allies Canadamarker, the United Kingdommarker and the People's Republic of Chinamarker;

Red: The Soviet Unionmarker and its allies;

Green: The neutral countries of Western Europe.

The red dots indicate several key locations such as Washington, D.C.marker; Omaha, Nebraskamarker; Kansas City, Missourimarker and Beijing, China that have been obliterated by nuclear bombs.]]

The film begins when a normal September morning in the small Coloradomarker town of Calumetmarker

A bumper sticker seen on a truck states a classic gun owner’s creed: "They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers." The shot moves down to a dead man's hand holding an M1911 Colt pistol, which a Soviet paratrooper pries from his hand.In a later scene, Colonel Bella, the Cuban officer, instructs the KGB to go to the local sporting goods store and obtain the paperwork of local citizens who own firearms as likely suspects of trouble. The Cuban officer specifically refers to Form 4473, which is the actual BATF form used to record the sale of a firearm by a dealer to a private citizen in the United States, suggesting an inherent danger in laws that require firearm registration in such a situation. Later in the film the Wolverines make extensive use of captured Soviet weapons such as AKMs, RPKs, and RPGs from their first engagement onwards for greater effectiveness.

The boys are given sanctuary for a time on a ranch by an old couple who are long-time friends of their families, and who inform them that they are " behind enemy lines." The couple charge them with the care of their two granddaughters, Toni (Jennifer Grey) and Erica (Lea Thompson) Mason. Led by Jed Eckert (Patrick Swayze), his brother Matt (Charlie Sheen) and their friends Robert (C. Thomas Howell), Danny (Brad Savage), Daryl (Darren Dalton), and Aardvark (Doug Toby)—who call themselves the Wolverines after their high school mascot,—they begin a armed resistance against the Soviet-allied occupation force.

Jed and Matt learn that their father has now been captured and is being held in a Soviet concentration camp. Mr Eckert orders the two boys to abandon him there, but to "avenge" him. In response, the "Wolverines" mount strikes on invading forces, and persuade others to do the same.

Tanner informs them that several key locations such as Washington, D.C.marker and Omaha, Nebraskamarker have been obliterated, that America's Strategic Air Command has been crippled in a surprise attack by undercover Cuban saboteurs, and that the parachutists they encountered were among those released from fake commercial airliners. This was done in order to seize key positions in preparation for subsequent massive combined arms assaults via Mexico and Alaska. Half of America has been taken over, but American counterattacks have halted Soviet progress. The colonel then assists the Wolverines in organizing raids against the Soviets. Soon after, Tanner is killed by fire from a tank battle between an American M1A1 Abrams and a pair of Soviet T-72's. They also lose Aardvark during the fight.

As the result of escalating guerrilla attacks, the Soviet field commanders now view the Wolverines as a serious threat. Initially, the occupiers had tried reprisal terror tactics, executing groups of civilians following every Wolverine attack, in hopes of intimidating the local population and compelling the Wolverines to surrender. However, the tactic backfires, and civilians lend increasing support to the resistance movement. Following a rise in popular support for the Wolverines, the Soviets decide to stop reprisals against civilians and make their hunt more focused on the Wolverines themselves. Spetsnaz commandos are sent into the mountains to eliminate the resistance, but the commandos are ambushed and killed by the Wolverines.

Actor Lane Smith plays the role of the "Vichyite" mayor who tries to appease the occupation authorities.Using threats of torture, KGB intelligence officers force the young man to swallow a tracking device. Then they release him to rejoin the guerillas. After the Wolverines discover that their pursuers are carrying man-portable radio triangulation equipment, the boy confesses his role and pleads for mercy, but the others execute him.

The Wolverines are weakened, however, by the attacks and other events, and their morale erodes as the war of attrition takes its toll on their numbers. Even though the civilians are increasingly resistant to Soviet rule, the occupation forces are pushing the resistance to the breaking point. The remaining Wolverines are ambushed by three Mil Mi-24 helicopter gunships and Robert and Toni are killed, leaving the group reduced to four: Jed, Matt, Danny, and Erica.Determined to save at least some of their number, Jed and Matt stage a suicide attack on the Soviet regional headquarters to distract the troops while Danny and Erica escape to "Free American" territory. The ploy works, though it is only implied that Jed and Matt die—Danny and Erica manage to escape.



The script for Red Dawn was written by John Milius and Kevin Reynolds (director of The Beast, Waterworld, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) from a story by Reynolds. The original screenplay, called Ten Soldiers, was more akin to Lord of the Flies, the classic novel (and later two films) about the aggressive nature of man, than to the action film it eventually became. Some of the changes made to Ten Soldiers included a shift in focus from the conflict within the group of teens to the conflict between the teens and their oppressors, and the acceleration of the ages of some of the characters from early teens to high school age and beyond. John Milius was inspired to a degree by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, basing the tactics of the Wolverines on those of the mujahideen in fighting the occupying Soviet and Cuban armies.

The movie was filmed in and around the town of Las Vegas, New Mexicomarker. Many of the buildings and structures which appeared in the film, including a historic Fred Harvey Company hotel adjacent to the train depot, the Las Vegas train yard, and a building near downtown, which was repainted with the name of "Calumet, Colorado", where the movie was set, are still there today as they appeared in the film. An old Safeway grocery store was converted to a sound stage and used for several scenes in the movie.

Before starting work on the movie, the cast underwent a realistic intensive eight-week military training course. During that time, production crews designed and built special combat vehicles in Newhall, California. Among their "army" were 15 Soviet armored vehicles (including a ZSU-23-4 "Shilka" mobile antiaircraft gun, several T-72 main battle tanks, and various BMP, BMD and BTR armored personnel carriers), several Yak-38 "Forger" vertical take-off and landing Soviet Naval aircraft (the Soviet Navy flag is clearly visible on the side of the air intake), and three Mi-24 "Hind-A" helicopter gunships (improvised from Aérospatiale Pumas). Soldier Of Fortune magazine reported that the movie's Soviet T-72 tank was such a precise replica that "while it was being carted around Los Angeles, two CIA officers followed it to the studio and wanted to know where it had come from".

Five of the 36 parachutists who took part in the invasion scene early in the film were injured when high winds blew them as far as one mile off target. Parachutist Jim Fisher, wearing a Soviet paratrooper uniform including full Soviet insignia and including an AKM Assault Rifle, landed in a tree and found himself calling out to local rescuers including armed citizens and police: "Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! I am not a Russian soldier!"

The original theatrical trailer for the film featured a shot of enemy soldiers eating at a McDonald's, which was cut from the film, most likely because of a real life San Ysidro McDonald's massacre that took place three weeks before the premiere.

Cold War

The movie was released during the Cold War; less than 5 years after the capture of the US Embassy in Iranmarker in 1979, which led to the 444 day-long hostage negotiation (and failed rescue attempt Operation Eagle Clawmarker) in 1980 and 1981; only two years after the US invasion of Grenadamarker where US Special Forces and Delta Forcemarker members fought against Cubanmarker military forces; and only one year after Ronald Reagan, elected to his second term as President of the United States, announced his prototypical Strategic Defense Initiative Star Wars missile defense system as a military necessity to give Americamarker an advantage against nuclear attack. The Sovietmarker attack outlined in the film was a test case for the US War College with a certain element of plausibility, given the political climate at the time the movie was released.

Operation Red Dawn

The operation to capture former Iraqimarker dictator Saddam Hussein was named Operation Red Dawn and its targets were dubbed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2. Army Capt. Geoffrey McMurray, who named the mission, said the naming "was so fitting because it was a patriotic, pro-American movie." Milius approved of the naming: "I was deeply flattered and honored. It's nice to have a lasting legacy."


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