Tango & Cash (1989) (part 1 of 3)

Note from the author: This is the fourth in my series of tributes to cheesy action movies of the ’80s and early ’90s, the first being Action Jackson, the second Stone Cold, and most recently, Invasion U.S.A. Rather than in-depth recaps or straightforward reviews, these will contain a brief synopsis followed by a longer list of highlights, notes, and observations.


SUMMARY: Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell team up as mismatched cops to take on Jack Palance in a gloriously obnoxious festival of ’80s action.

Tango & Cash (1989)

One of the best buddy films of all time, 48 Hrs. spawned many, many buddy cop imitators, including the equally good Lethal Weapon films. We’ll get there at some point, but today we’re aiming for something a bit lower on the radar: A sadly underrated film that, for my money, is the Road House of buddy cop films, Tango & Cash.

Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell are Tango and Cash, respectively. They’re basically Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, if they were younger, muscular and issued badges and guns. They’re brought together by a sinister mastermind played by Jack Palance, who frames them for a murder they didn’t commit, and the two cops must work together to clear their names.

Palance is assisted by Brion James, who’s armed with a straight razor and the worst cockney accent since Dick van Dyke. There are also supporting villain turns by James Hong and Mark Alaimo, as well as a small role for Robert Z’Dar.

So essentially, we have Rambo and Jack Burton going up against the bad guy from Shane, a replicant, Lo Pan and Gul Dukat with an assist from a maniac cop. Now there’s a main event! Throw in a souped-up truck that would make James Bond envious, Teri Hatcher, and brazen machismo the likes of which we’ll never see again, and you have a true undiscovered gem of modern action cinema.

I give it 10 out of 10 RVs from Hell. Let’s breathe it in deeply, and enjoy.

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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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