“In the early days of World War III, guerillas – mostly children – placed the names of their lost upon this rock. They fought here alone and gave up their lives so that this nation shall not perish from the earth.”
-Inscription on fictional Partisan Rock
“Red Dawn,” released in 1984, is an action-packed war film directed by John Milius and written by Milius and Kevin Reynolds. The movie features an ensemble cast, including Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and Powers Boothe. Set during the Cold War, “Red Dawn” tells the story of a group of American teenagers who form a guerilla resistance unit called The Wolverines to fight back against a Soviet and Cuban invasion of their small Colorado town. The film explores themes of survival, loyalty, and the power of ordinary people to rise up against overwhelming odds.
The movie is also informally referred to as “Patrick Swayze War Movie,” “Wolverines War Movie,” and “Charlie Sheen War Movie.”
Red Dawn Introduction
The opening text in the movie sets the stage for the events of the movie, providing some background on the geopolitical situation at the time. The text reads:
“8:44 A.M. September, Mountain Time. NORAD has detected incoming missiles. The President has ordered a full strategic retaliatory strike. This is not an exercise.”
This opening text creates a sense of tension and urgency, immediately immersing the audience in the film’s dramatic premise. It establishes the context for the Soviet and Cuban invasion of the United States that serves as the backdrop for the story
Red Dawn Plot (in chapters)
Chapter 1: A Peaceful Morning
The film opens in a small Colorado town called Calumet, where high school students go about their daily routines. Suddenly, paratroopers invade the town, marking the beginning of a foreign occupation of the United States.
Chapter 2: The Wolverines
A group of teenagers, led by brothers Jed and Matt Eckert, flee to the mountains to escape the invasion. They name their group “The Wolverines,” after their high school’s mascot, and start training to become a guerilla fighting force.
Chapter 3: Survival and Preparation
The Wolverines learn to survive in the wilderness and practice their combat skills. They gradually become a cohesive unit, preparing to fight back against the occupying forces.
Chapter 4: First Strike
The Wolverines launch their first attack against the invaders, ambushing a group of Soviet soldiers. They realize the gravity of their situation and accept the responsibility of defending their town and country.
Chapter 5: Building Resistance
The Wolverines grow bolder, attacking enemy installations and supply lines. They become a symbol of resistance, inspiring the local population to stand up against the invaders.
Chapter 6: A Tenuous Alliance
The Wolverines form an uneasy alliance with a downed U.S. Air Force Colonel, who provides them with intelligence and guidance on their missions.
Chapter 7: Betrayal and Loss
As the Wolverines’ actions become more daring, they suffer casualties and face betrayal from within their ranks. Despite these setbacks, they continue to fight, knowing that they are the last hope for their town.
Chapter 8: The Final Stand
The Wolverines make a last stand against the occupying forces, with heavy losses on both sides. The film ends on a bittersweet note, with the remaining Wolverines mourning their fallen comrades and vowing to continue their resistance until the United States is liberated.
“Red Dawn” was filmed primarily on location in Las Vegas, New Mexico,(Apple Maps | Google Maps) which stood in for the fictional town of Calumet, Colorado. The picturesque landscape provided a stunning backdrop for the film’s action sequences and the rugged wilderness where The Wolverines set up their base camp. The production also made use of local landmarks and buildings, adding authenticity to the film’s setting.
Reviews & Box Office
Upon its release, “Red Dawn” received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the film’s action sequences and the performances of its young cast, while expressing concerns about the film’s political overtones and lack of character development. However, it found an audience and became a commercial success, grossing over $38 million domestically against a production budget of approximately $17 million. The film has since gained a cult following, with fans appreciating its unique premise, intense action scenes, and the camaraderie among the young cast members.
“Red Dawn” has also had a lasting impact on popular culture, with its iconic battle cry “Wolverines!” becoming a symbol of defiance and resilience in the face of adversity. The film’s influence can be seen in later works, such as the television series “Jericho” and the video game “Homefront.” In 2012, a remake of “Red Dawn” was released, featuring a new cast and a North Korean invasion as the central threat, but it failed to capture the same level of success as the original.
“Red Dawn” stands as an enduring testament to the power of ordinary people to rise up and make a difference in the face of overwhelming odds. Its memorable characters, intense action sequences, and unique premise have made it a classic of 1980s cinema and a beloved cult favorite.