Movie Review: Tango & Cash

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Two headline-making LA cops are framed for murder and must take down the smuggler who set them up.

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Andrei Konchalovsky & Albert Magnoli, 1989

Ray Tango (Sylvester Stallone) is a bad-ass LA cop who shoots first, asks questions later, and wears nice suits that he buys with money he got on the stock market. Gabriel Cash (Kurt Russell) is a bad-ass LA cop who shoots first, asks questions later, has a gun in his boot, and wears a leather jacket. They compete for headlines as they take down members of the criminal operations of Yves Perret (Jack Palance). Tired of constantly being foiled by the cops, Perret sets them up for murder. Now Tango and Cash must learn to work together in order to get out of prison, take down Perret, and clear their names.

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Tango & Cash is a famous flop of a film that doesn’t really connect on any level, but is actually pretty fun in an 80s action movie kind of way. I mean, none of the plot makes sense and the scenes and setups don’t seem to connect to one another (probably a result of this movie burning through – count ’em – FOUR directors), but stuff blows up and dick jokes are made. It’s homophobic almost to the point of parody, roided up and all blown out, and probably the ultimate example of 80s action excess…but you know, I like 80s action excess, because no matter how terrible the plot is, explosions that are set to ripping rock guitar solos are kind of my jam. There are a lot of plots that are deeply ridiculous, like the wild SUV that the boys get from their nerd friend (a bizarre manchild character), and a lot of almost surreal bad elements, like the American thug trying to do an “Australian” accent and the house of mirrors finale that makes no sense on any level. Although, to be fair, the villain’s plot doesn’t make sense at any point – he has several opportunities to just kill Tango and Cash, but clearly can’t because of…plot.

I have a weird fondness for young Teri Hatcher. I think she’s kind of adorable and bubbly and not a terrific actress but really sweet anyway. I think she was my favourite part of this film, along with Kurt Russell’s hair. The two of them have some pretty nice scenes together, including sneaking out of a club by pretending to be lesbians (!!) and flirting afterwards while Cash continued to wear panty hose. Which was surprisingly funny. I’m almost amused by the sister-as-proxy trope in these kinds of homoerotic movies where the main love story is clearly between two dudes. Sylvester Stallone is ridiculous in this movie. He seems to think he’s brilliant, but he lacks the easy charisma Kurt Russell has to carry it off, and his character just seems arrogant. The biggest problem with the movie, though, is that there really aren’t any major character differences between Tango and Cash. Tango wears suits and Cash…doesn’t, but they are both badass, competent fighters. There’s ONE scene in a courtroom that suggest that Tango is more of a toeing the line guy while Cash is hot-headed, but that doesn’t seem to come through anywhere else. It’s a mess of a movie, this has been a mess of a review, and…just watch Die Hard or Big Trouble in Little China or something instead.

Tango & Cash on IMDb

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