Tango & Cash (1989) (part 2 of 3)

20. At night, Tango stakes out Requin, and follows him into a warehouse. Cash is doing the same thing, and after a bit of cat and mouse stuff, the two cops end up face to face. Okay, Tango ends up with Cash’s gun at his throat, but it all ends up the same.

Caption contributed by Ed

“This is for making us sit through Over the Top!”

21. After some back and forth, they both head for a room where a lone man is sitting with his back turned to them. No surprise, they approach and find that the guy’s been shot to death. Also, they discover he’s wearing a wire. Suddenly, federal agents burst in and the two men are placed under arrest. Somehow, one of Cash’s guns has ended up on the scene, and after some shady maneuverings involving a tape recording and an FBI guy (courtesy of Requin), our two intrepid heroes will have to stand trial for the murder of a federal agent.

22. So, instead of just killing the cops, the villain puts together an elaborate frame job that may or may not even work? Yes, there was a lot of dialogue about how Perret likes playing games, but that’s supermodel-thin writing there.

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23. We hear the tape of the duo killing the guy. How the villains managed to fake this recording is never adequately explained, but to be honest, no explanation would really make much sense, so it’s pointless anyhow.

24. Remember in my Stone Cold piece where I said they saved the gonzo stuff for the last twenty minutes? If you’re worried about that happening again, fear not, because gonzo makes his appearance about 25 minutes in, and sticks around until the end. Let’s savor it like a fine meal, shall we?

25. First comes a montage of the trial, and if every trial were this entertaining, I’d be begging for jury duty. There’s bits of testimony, followed by Tango and Cash making snide comments about each witness. Seriously, it’s like Mystery Science Theater 3000, only instead of some guy and a couple of robots riffing on bad movies in a satellite, it’s two pumped up muscle heads riffing on their own murder trial.

26. First up is Skinner, the audio expert who authenticates the sound recording, played by the late Michael Jeter. His testimony inspires this exchange.

Cash: When this is over, remind me to rip Jumbo there’s tongue out.
Tango: With a tow truck.

Caption contributed by Ed

“I’d stay away from the fish in the cafeteria. Just trust me.”

27. Next up is Skinner, the FBI guy who gave Requin the phony tape. Just for the sake of trivia, he’s played by the late Roy Brocksmith, who was also in Total Recall, where he made the cardinal mistake of pissing off Schwarzenegger. His testimony brings us this bit, which also inspired a riff in my 3000 Miles to Graceland recap.

Tango: When this is over, we have to pay Jabba the Hutt here a visit.
Cash: I’ll bring the chainsaw.
Tango: I’ll bring the beer.

28. Batting third is the guy who got a throat massage with a chair courtesy of Cash. I guess he’s supposed to serve as a character witness for the prosecution, or… something. I’m a recapper, dammit, not a lawyer. In the middle of his translated testimony, Cash gets pissed and yells that the guy can speak English, and he even coins the term “square-fro” in reference to the guy’s hairstyle. I swear, every word out of Kurt Russell’s mouth in this film is pure genius.

Caption contributed by Ed

Sly argues for why he had the worse 2001, not Kurt Russell.

29. Tango’s lawyer advises Tango to cop a plea, adding that Cash’s lawyer should be doing the same thing if he’s smart. Hate to break it to you, but smart doesn’t describe anything in this film. Thank God.

30. The two cops meet, and decide to cop a plea for 18 months at a minimum security prison. This leads to a great scene where Tango makes a heartfelt, sincere statement in court to show his appreciation for his fellow officers. Yes, Sly gets an acting moment here. Hey, just be glad he didn’t also write the script. Remember the speech at the end of First Blood? Remember his reaction to Burgess Meredith’s death in Rocky III? At least here he enunciates, and doesn’t try to emote.

31. Cash’s statement is, well… less articulate.

Cash: Mr. Tango has spoken very eloquently, and I wish I could be as forgiving. But I can’t, because this whole thing fucking sucks!

Call me crazy, but I like his speech better.

32. Cash’s outburst doesn’t stop the plea deal from going through, and back at his base, Perret is quite pleased. Quan and Lopez are less than enthused, but Perret assures them that our heroes won’t last 18 months in prison.

33. We soon find out why, when Tango and Cash are taken to a prison that looks decidedly more than minimum security. In fact, it looks like Alcatraz after a makeover. Our heroes are surprisingly reflective at this point.

Cash: This has gotta be a mistake. What do you think?
Tango: I think my underwear is riding into my throat.

Caption contributed by Ed

“God, Sly, what’s with the butterfly tattoo, and who the hell is Buford?”

34. In the very next scene, the two men are showering. You know, I’m not one to read subtext into movies, and one of the main reasons I started this whole series was to rail against that sort of pretentious crap. But yeah, I have to admit the homoeroticism here is kinda blatant.

35. As for the actual content of the scene: Well, it’s just them speculating about who set them up, and making fun of the size of each other’s… You know what? Let’s just move along and never speak of this scene again. Yeah, I think that’s for the best.

Caption contributed by Ed

“We just had to apply to Oz University!”

36. Cash worries that they’ll get put in with the general prison population, but Tango says that cops don’t get that kind of treatment. Sure enough, we cut to them walking through a cell block. Actually, hell block would be more appropriate, as it’s a remarkable sight to behold. Flaming pieces of paper fly everywhere, and there’s a huge pile of stuff that’s just engulfed in flames. Seriously! No guards trying to put it out or anything, just an open flame begging for a BBQ.

Caption contributed by Ed

That’s why they call him the Maniac Cop!

37. Random prisoners shout threats at them. Now comes a great moment, as Robert Z’Dar re-enters the film, going completely nuts in his cell, screaming for the two to be brought to him. He gets his wish, and then gets his face smashed into the bars of his cell by Tango. You know, since we never get his name, I’ll just call him Maniac Cop. Hey, it’s either that or the “Captain Dynoball” line that Cash uses earlier in this scene, and frankly, I can get way more mileage out of the former.

38. Next up, our heroes get to meet their cellmates. Cash’s fellow prisoner is a huge black man who refuses to let him use the one toilet in the cell. Later on, we’ll get a fart joke from this character, which I won’t be getting into. Hope you appreciate it.

Caption contributed by Ed

“So, you liked Ice Cream Man? Thanks!”

39. Tango has it worse, because he’s put in a cell with Clint Howard. I could have sworn that was outlawed in this country, but I guess not. Clint plays his standard creepy sleazebag role. Or in other words, the role he usually takes when brother Ron doesn’t have anything for him. But to be fair, they give him a Slinky here, so you can’t say he lacks flair. Proper hygiene and an appealing personality, that’s a different story.

40. The same scene that gives us the fart joke in Cash’s cell that I’d rather ignore, also gives us a shot inside Tango’s cell, where he’s tied Clint Howard up with his Slinky in order to get some sleep.

41. The sleep is interrupted when he and Cash are abducted and beaten by other prisoners, and then dumped down a laundry chute. How they managed to do this without alerting the guards isn’t explained, but given that Perret managed to get Tango and Cash’s prison bus diverted to this shit hole, I think it can be inferred that the staff is pretty damn corrupt. Actually, if you throw in John Amos and Donald Sutherland, you basically have the prison staff of Lock Up, the other film Stallone did in 1989. Before you ask, yes. It sucks.

Caption contributed by Ed

Special guest appearance by Deep Throat.

42. Tango and Cash find themselves in the laundry room, which for the purposes of this film is designed like the factory set of every crappy sci-fi film from the ’80s. Hell, I almost expect to see Reb Brown and John Philip Law race by on floor buffers. They’re quickly surrounded by prisoners, but this doesn’t stop them from bantering with each other because, hey, it’s a buddy cop film from 1989. If being shot by a South African diplomat didn’t put the damper on Mel Gibson’s sense of humor, I see no reason why these guys can’t keep it up.

43. Perret shows up and introduces himself as “Someone who doesn’t like you very much.” Well, in Stallone’s case, that could be anybody from Brigitte Nielsen to any number of film critics.

44. Requin shows up as well, and Tango recognizes him from the setup. Requin threatens both men with a straight razor, but to be honest, the menace is diminished somewhat due to Brion James’s fake accent. It does provide some good quotes, though. Like this one.

Requin: I’ll cut your bloody throat, yank your throat out the hole, and tie it in a lovely Windsor knot for you, eh.

And this is how it sounds in all its Cockney mixed with a bit of Canadian and possibly Australian or New Zealander glory:

Requin: Aw’ll cut your bloody froat, yank yer froat out the ‘ole, and tie it in a lovely Windsor know for ya’, eh!

God, I miss this guy!

45. Cash’s response to this is my favorite bit of dialogue in the movie.

Cash: You want to cut my throat, huh? Go ahead! You want to cut my fucking head off and use it for a fucking basketball? You can bowl with the motherfucker for all I care, just don’t let him do it! I don’t want to get killed by this limey, immigrant jerk off! I want to get killed by an American jerk off!

This doesn’t go over too well with Requin, but Perret tells him to hold off.

46. This brings Maniac Cop back into the mix, and he rhapsodizes about how Tango and his fellow cops broke his jaw. Cash expresses amazement at this feat, and given the size of the man’s jaw, I gotta agree. They use this little fun fact to start a huge fight with the prisoners, during which they actually do pretty well for themselves, considering the odds. Though, it does help that the prisoners seem to come at them one at a time. Eventually, they’re swarmed, and in the next scene they’re chained up and hung from winches over tubs full of water.

Caption contributed by Ed

When fraternity initiations go wrong, next on FOX News.

47. Requin yanks out a cable from a machine and passes current through the water. Yeah, I don’t know how this is coming together either, but it’s entertaining as hell.

48. Cash is dipped into the water first, and the cable is dropped in. After some serious jiggling and shaking, he’s brought back up, and the guy must be superhuman, because he’s still alive.

49. Tango gets the same treatment, and proves to be equally superhuman. Well, yeah. I mean, really; This is the same actor who expected the audience to buy him cauterizing a wound with gun powder and a hot iron without passing out from the pain. Would you really expect anything less from him at this point? The fun is broken up, however, when the guards round everyone up, while Requin and Perret vanish into the shadows.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Okay, dammit! I apologize for Judge Dredd!”

50. Later, Tango and Cash are recuperating in a storage room. Enter the assistant warden, who also happens to be Cash’s friend. After a bit of talk, he recommends they escape. Cash is all for it, but Tango is reluctant because… Well, because it wouldn’t be a buddy cop film if there wasn’t pointless disagreement, now would it?

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Tango & Cash (1989)

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