Imagine a time when movie heroes were heroes not for being pretty, metrosexual types capable of playing a broad range of characters aptly displaying a broad spectrum of emotions, but because they had big muscles, or knew kung-fu. The year is 1989, and two such heroes are Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. Another wildly popular trope of the time period is buddy cop movies. Do you sense what’s coming here? You’re sensing wrong. The team behind Tango & Cash decided that buddy cop movies had been done. It was time for a brand new type of movie: so they made one, the first ever shower buddy cop movie. You’re welcome.
Tango & Cash
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
Release Date: December 22, 1989
Where to Watch: Google Play
COME FOR THE:
- The painful obsoletism of 80s insensitivity to culture, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation
- Sylvester Stallone actually attempting to play a refined character
- Belt on a wire makes a zipline [no it doesn’t]
STAY FOR THE:
- Teri Hatcher who’s surprisingly young & surprisingly attractive [you kids may or may not know her from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman or Desperate Housewives]
- The prevalent ponytail putdowns [Tango & Cash would not like the man-bun phenomena, not one bit]
- The whole prison movie sub-plot that I wittily entitled, The Shawshank took a Redumption
- WHATEVER THE FUCK THIS IS …
Tango & Cash was a familiar catch in my mind long before I ever saw it. Once heard, it can’t really be unheard, after all, they titled it Tango & Cash. Imagine, Turner & Hooch [another 1989 buddy cop staple], with half the acting chops. Someone shopped this script around way back then, and when Sly and Kurt joined team SHOWER POWER, they said, FUCK IT, replace Kurt with Tom Hanks and change out Sly for a dog. Done!
Eventually though, see it I did. And boy, once it’s seen it can’t be unseen. This is actually likely not true for something like 75-95% of its viewers. Most probably forget it instantly, never to dwell on it again, but for that remaining 5-25% of us thinkers out there, you’ll revisit this masterpiece more than once, and save some for later.
First and foremost, realize that this is a buddy cop movie, but one gone horribly awry. Very little about this movie makes sense. Scouring the internet and doing a deep dive into the research [visiting Wikipedia] yields a harrowing tale of a movie gone wrong, of directors and producers being replaced mid-production, or endings being rewritten, and Sylvester Stallone sacrificing production assistants to Gozer. Maybe Sly didn’t sacrifice PAs, or anyone, but the movie’s production was troubled, and subsequently, you’re left with a film that doesn’t know whether or not to take itself seriously. A film that at times, clearly seems to be run of the mill buddy cop fodder, and at times, wants to be all out spoof [think: Loaded Weapon versus Lethal Weapon].
Let’s be honest, this thing is a straight rip-off of Lethal Weapon, but if the filmmakers made every decision wrong. Exhibit A: Martin Rigg’s (aka Mel Gibson) hair versus Cash’s (aka Kurt Russell).
Mel Gibson, as Martin Riggs, from 1987’s Lethal Weapon.
Kurt Russell, as Mel Gibson, as Martin Riggs, from 1989’s Tango & Cash.
Yes, this is white guy white guy Lethal Weapon, and yes, that means Sylvester Stallone is Murtaugh. But moving beyond everything this movie is attempting to emulate, good or bad. There is a story here. No plot, but a story. Basically, you’ve got your average bad good cop meets other bad cop who are different, but not really, and are for some reason on the outs with a shadowy super-villain sort who will never simply just kill the good guys, but rather go to elaborate lengths to taunt, humiliate, harass, impede, and incapacitate.
Literally, there’s even a lair complete with a self-destruct countdown [why would self-destruct mechanisms ever have alarms that warn other people of the impending doom?].
I mean, not only is there a lair, and sub-villains that are constantly questioning the head villain as to why they don’t merely kill the protagonists, but the head villain appears in a shadowy mist!
Imagine most bad movie tropes ever, and you’re likely to find some variation of it here. Terrible dialogue? Yes. Strip club? Yes. Absurd villains? Yes. The worst–this one even has a maze built into his custom lair bar just so he can make some obscure reference and metaphor about Tango & Cash being rats in a maze. I’ve seen it, and I can still barely make sense of it. I’m doing it again: lying. I don’t understand it one bit. And it’s glorious because of it.
You’ll likely not understand much about this movie other than it makes overtures at being things it isn’t. Is it a spoof? Not really. Is it a buddy cop movie? Not at all. Is it hilarity for your mind? Absolute vodka. You’ll need some to accompany your viewing.
- Despite Tango (Stallone) worry about it for a troublingly long time, Cash (Russell) doesn’t bang Tango’s sister (Hatcher). BLUE BALLS WARNING!!! BLUE BALLS! BLUE BALLS! BLUE BALLS!
- But one dude does get FUBAR’d, and how. Which is good, because Cash threatens it throughout the whole movie
- Sorry, the only kind of proposal in this film is the indecent kind that Robert Redford whispered to Demi Moore, except with more soap dropping and prison gang showers
- 80% of the film features only 3 deaths, and after that, it’s a true shit show, with more deaths than one can possibly be expected to count: so let’s just say at least a 1,000
- Tango: Do you think he’s telling the truth? Cash: I don’t know, but it’s not raining and he’s standing in a puddle.
- One of them: Let’s take him alive. *They shoot him in the head* Tango: My sights are off. Cash: Mine too.
- Did you and my sister bump uglies!?