Tango & Cash (1989)
By: Devon B. on August 18, 2013 | Comments
Warner Bros. | Region Free | 2.40:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 114 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, Jack Palance, Brion James
Screenplay: Randy Feldman
Country: USA
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There have been a few action movies that I didn't think much of in the 80s but that I now think are comedic masterpieces. I couldn't remember much about Tango & Cash other than a few jokes about cock sizes, but I became convinced that I would now think the movie was awesome so I ordered it. The reason I didn't remember much is because there's not much to it.

Sylvester Stallone is Tango, a rich cop who plays by his own rules. Kurt Russell is Cash, a cool cop who plays by his own rules. Jack Palance is Perret, a villain who plays by his own rules. Also, Perret is sick of the two cops but doesn't just want to kill them so he concocts an elaborate scheme to get the pair jailed…and then kill them. The cops initially dislike each other, but when it becomes clear they will be murdered if they stay in jail, the two have to break out and then set about trying to prove their innocence.

If ever a movie defined illogical plot and showed what a train wreck can happen with studio and star meddling, it's Tango & Cash. The movie went severely over budget but has nothing to show for it, went through multiple directors, had one of its leads re-cast and started filming without a complete script. I'm actually surprised there was any script, because for all the money spent on this movie, it seemed like everyone forgot to hire a writer.

I find a lot of 80s movies hilarious these days, but that's actually the tone Tango & Cash is going for. There're so many jokes it seems like 48 Hrs., and while some of the jokes are amusing, some are just groan inducing, like when someone says that Stallone "thinks he's Rambo." One thing I didn't pick up on back when the film was released was that its opening scene is lifted from Jackie Chan's Police Story, a case of stealing from the best, at least. Chan hadn't cracked the States yet, and wouldn't for another few years, but Hollywood had realised they could swipe ideas from the then magnificent Hong Kong action cinema and most US audiences would be none the wiser. The stolen scene does set the way for the jokey, jokey tone that will follow, so it's not out of place.

The biggest joke of the movie is one that I don't think was intentional. Palance's logic for his nutty plan is so confusing that I was more confused after he tried to explain it. His partners in crime are also confused, and so are Tango and Cash themselves. It is a truly baffling plan that hinges entirely on the police force not bothering to check whether some incriminating evidence was tampered with. Another unintentional gag is the 80s hair, with Russell looking like a hair-metal band reject and Stallone not fairing much better.

The always entertaining James Hong makes an appearance, Brion James proves that not all actors can fake an accent and Clint, the better of the Howard brothers, gets to play with a slinky. Future Lois Lane Teri Hatcher is around as well, but making a much bigger impression is Mr Maniac Cop himself Robert Z'Dar, playing the leader of the prisoner heavies.

I'm not sure that I think Tango & Cash is great, but it is an absolute clusterfuck of nonsense that careens to a ridiculous conclusion. Stallone and Russell are fun to watch, so I think a great movie could've been made if someone had written a script, but as an absolute fiasco it's still fairly entertaining.
The Disc
The movie has a clear and detailed image. There're still a few spots and a few moments where the grain gets heavy, but the colours are stable and overall the image is well rendered. There is some edge enhancement, but other than that the film looks as good as could be hoped for, and most of the time looks great for an older action movie.

The English TrueHD 5.1 mix is a front heavy track that makes little use of the rear channels. The film had a 6-track stereo mix when it was shown on 70mm, and this is probably a recreation of how the movie sounded in those theatres. It's not going to set the stereo alight, but if there has to be a remix, I'd prefer it to be close to the theatrical presentation. There's also a lossy English track as well as French, Spanish, German, Italian and Russian 5.1 lossy dubs. Latin Spanish speakers get a 2.0 lossy dub to enjoy.

A trailer is the only extra feature.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
There's a lesson here about spending 55 million dollars on a movie but not saving any money for a script, but perhaps the end result would've been less entertaining than this mess. I did like the movie this time, but I don't think I would describe it as good and I'm not really sure how to rate it. This Blu-ray is decent, but for such a problematic film there must be heaps of stories that those involved could've recollected, so a doco or a commentary or even a lousy trivia track would've been appreciated.
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