Sorry you have not heard from me in a while, but I have a nagging injury that just won’t go away. Anyways, Tom V and I were discussing movies and he said that he deduced the film which symbolized and embodied the beginning of the end for Hollywood: Tango & Cash (1990). This film embodies everything I despise in cinema—its porno thin plot, really bad acting, the udder failure to adhere to “Movie Physics” as set forth in “Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.” I understand and agree that movies require a certain suspension of belief, but there are limits and this one crossed over everyone I could think of.
First, Sylvester “Sly” Stallone plays an intellectual investment banker-Beverly Hills cop which just comes off so bad and stilted it is laughable. Kurt Russell who plays the Joe-six pack/L.A. cop with a gun in the heel of his cowboy boots. Jack Palance playing the criminal mastermind Yves Perret who would rather than simply kill police interfering with his operations sets up some totally elaborate-unattainable-unbelievable frame up of Tango & Cash even after being told by his subordinates to simply kill them. James Hong (don’t worry you will recognize him when you see him in the clips) playing the classic Asian criminal and some idiot savant James Bond “Q” wannabe who invented the gun boot and built some bullet proof minivan with a 20mm cannon mounted on its side. The list goes on and on.
This film was so bad from the start that Warner Bros. hired editor Stuart Baird to re-edit the movie because they were displeased with the rough cut. Baird was also called in by Warner Bros to re-edit another Stallone action movie Demolition Man (1993) (another shitty movie) for same reasons. Baird and another editor Hubert de La Bouillerie had to constantly re-edit the movie because Warner Bros. kept complaining on cut after cut of it. During the re-editing, some plot parts and even some action scenes were deleted, some of which can be seen in theatrical trailer which was made by using the footage and scenes from one of the earlier cuts of the movie. There is no editor that could have saved this film.
On with the “story.” Beverly Hills LAPD Lieutenant Ray Tango and Downtown Los Angeles Lieutenant Gabriel Cash have earned themselves a reputation for disrupting crime lord Yves Perret’s smuggling operation in their respective jurisdictions. One day, both of them are informed of a drug deal taking place later that night. Both detectives meet each other for the first time at the location, but discover a dead body that is wire-tapped before the FBI arrive and surround the duo. Agent Wyler finds Cash’s backup Walter PPK pistol on the floor with a silencer attached and arrests both Cash and Tango. At their murder trial, Tango and Cash are incriminated by an audio tape, secretly given to Wyler by Perret’s henchman Requin and verified in court by an audio expert, which appears to reveal them shooting the undercover FBI agent after discussing a drug purchase. They plead no contest to a lesser charge in exchange for reduced sentences in a minimum-security prison, but are transported to a maximum-security prison to be housed with many of the criminals they arrested in the past.
Once in prison, Tango and Cash are rousted from their bunks and tortured by Requin and a gang of prisoners until Matt Sokowski, the assistant warden and Cash’s former commanding officer, rescues them. Sokowski recommends that they escape (uh-huh) and provides them with a plan, but Tango refuses to go along with it. When Cash tries to escape, he finds Sokowski murdered and is attacked by prisoners. Tango rescues him and the duo escape. Once outside the prison walls, they proceed to go their separate ways when Tango tells Cash that should he need to contact him, he is to go to the Cleopatra Club and look for Katherine.
The detectives then visit the witnesses who framed them in court. Wyler admits to Tango that Requin was in charge of the setup, and Cash discovers that Skinner, the audio expert, made the incriminating tape himself. Cash finds Katherine, who helps him escape the night club as police move in on him. Later that night, Tango reunites with Cash, who discovers that Katherine is Tango’s younger sister. The duo are met at Katherine’s house by Tango’s commanding officer, Schroeder, who gives them Requin’s address and tells them they have 24 hours to find out who Requin works for. Tango and Cash apprehend Requin and trick him into telling them Perret’s name. Armed with bullshit vehicle loaned to them by Cash’s weapons expert friend Owen, the duo storm into Perret’s headquarters to confront the crime lord. At this point, Perret, who has kidnapped Katherine, starts a timer that will trigger the building’s automatic self-destruct procedure. After killing everyone and destroying all glass that could possibly be in any one building they are confronted by Requin, who is holding Katherine at knifepoint but throws her aside to fight the detectives hand-to-hand with the help of another henchman. The detectives defeat the two henchmen and when Perret appears, holding a gun to Katherine’s head, they kill him and leave with Katherine just before the building explodes.
Not surprisingly the film received negative reviews. One bad review came from The New York Times, which criticized the plot, the screenplay, and the acting (right on all fronts). It maintains a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 41 reviews with the consensus: “Brutally violent and punishingly dull, this cookie-cutter buddy cop thriller isn’t even fun enough to reach ‘so bad it’s good’ status.”
Tango & Cash was also given three 1989 Golden Raspberry Awards nominations for Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Worst Supporting Actress (Kurt Russell in drag ya that is right) and Worst Screenplay, but did not win—I don’t know how frankly. According to the Razzi website the breakdown for that year were “TANGO & CASH – 3 Nominations (Including Worst Actor of The Decade) 1 “Win” (See Worst of The Decade Awards).” See http://www.razzies.com/forum/1989-razzie-nominees-winners_topic339.html
I can’t say enough about this film, but I will say this it actually hurt to watch the second time when I was cutting the film for the clips. I can watch some bad films but this one almost had me beat.