Monday, December 8, 2008

Tango and Cash (1989)

One or two more of these pictures and then I swear I'm going to have to move on. Tango and Cash is a selection from the sub genre of action films known as the "buddy picture". While not quite at the level of 48 hours or Lethal Weapon this is a pretty fucking good movie, the kind that if made today would probably go DTV with a 1/4 of the budget. I recently saw Punisher: War Zone. It kicked all sorts of ass. And yet, after my viewing I couldn't help but wonder why the hollywood action picture is changing so drastically. They've always had elements of hyper-violence, but now that violence comes equipped with Saw-like gore. This absolutely is not a bad thing (unless, of course, that gore comes with Saw-like edits)....but, but, but....where have all the titties gone? They used to be a staple of this type of picture. You cannot have a scene in a titty bar (another staple of action pictures) without titties. You just can't. I think the problem is that actresses today don't have the balls that they had in the past. They want a legitimate acting career and fear showing their goods might hinder their progress. Of course, we know this to be bullshit. Tango and Cash almost fell victim to this "progress". Teri Hatcher plays an "erotic dancer" who doesn't take off her top. Thankfully, I guess they hired real strippers for the strip club scene and we got to see some of them backstage. Hatcher kept her clothes on in her dance scene though. I haven't been this appalled since Jessica Alba didn't take off her top in Sin City. Fuck man, I'd even settle for some CG titties. Anything! I guess Americans are more comfortable watching a wheelchair bound elderly mafioso having his head cut off (great moment in Punisher) then seeing something like a beautiful pair of tits. It doesn't make much sense to me. Murder and mayhem are good. Sex, the thing responsible for life and hard ons, is not. It's a bad trend and it needs to change. I think I should just add "titties" as a blog category and be done with it.

Tango and Cash is the story of two Los Angeles narcotics officers named Cash (Kurt Russell) and Tango (Sylvester Stallone). These guys couldn't be more different. Tango is the buttened down stock broker type, referred to as "Armani with a badge" while Cash is the slovenly blue jeans and a t-shirt type. He's the kind of guy that gets a tear in a shirt and laments "this shirt cost me nine bucks!" Also, they work in different precincts so it's not like these guys are even partners. What they have in common is they've been costing Jack Palance (he plays a drug lord) millions. Palance, playing a guy named Yyves Perret, is not your typical drug lord though. Instead of just having these two cops killed he concocts an elaborate scheme to have them framed for the murder of an undercover agent and sent to prison. While in prison, they'll be tortured and killed by a group of thugs led by none other than the "maniac cop" (Robert Z'Dar), he with the enormous chin. Of course, no prison can contain Stallone (see Lock Up) and Russell, we know, is pretty good at breaking in and out of them as well (Escape from New York and L.A.) so immediately we realize Palance's scheme is flawed.

This picture actually has a great line up of villains. Besides Palance and D'Zar, we've also got the likes of Brion James (Blade Runner) playing a cockneyed thug and James Hong (also Blade Runner) as, I guess, Palance's left hand man (he's not very good and as far as I could tell did nothing but suck down his camel 100s). Even Clint Howard (Blackwoods) shows up briefly as Tango's cellmate Slinky. He's named so because the guy wraps his slinky around his head while he sleeps and shoots spittle on the ceiling. We're not even going to stop here. A Frank Oz looking mother fucker shows up as a key witness against Tango and Cash, an audio expert who "authenticated" the pivotal evidence at their trial. He's played by Michael Jeter. Fuck, even Seinfeld's Mr. Lipman makes an appearence as Tango and Cash's lawyer. It's pretty much a cast for the fucking ages. Oh yeah, a non-topless Teri Hatcher (is she Stallone's girlfriend, daughter, or...gasp...sister??). And former real-life criminal turned actor playing a cop Edward Bunker is in this thing. It's a dream cast.

Back to the story, amazingly Cash and Tango were able to cut a deal of only eighteen months in a country club like prison for murdering an undercover agent. Also amazingly, Palance has enough pull (i.e. cash) to get these guys rerouted to a maximum security joint, one that he basically controls. I assumed this because on the first night in prison, Cash and Tango are dragged from their cells by their prison mates and into an underground lair where Palance happend to be waiting. Perhaps, the funniest scene (and the gayest!) of the picture, was when Tango and Cash were taking their first shower together and they couldn't help but look at each other's junk. Tango calls Cash "minnie mouse" while Cash refers to Tango as "tripod". I think I'd rather be tripod. Then Cash dropped his soap. I hope the prison systems have improved since this picture. This place is a dump. Fires everywhere, papers flying out of cells, big bucks yelling things like "Cash! I'm gonna put brown sugar in your ass." Somehow, Tango and Cash are able maintain a sense of humor despite the impending sodomy ("loved you in Conan".)

Hell, this whole picture is pretty damned amusing. When one fellow officer insults Tango by calling him "Rambo" he replies " a pussy." The action scenes are well shot as least until the final brouhaha at Palance's armored fortress. That thing was a little too nuts. There's a car chase in a parking garage that I'm still amazed by how well they pulled it off. The prison escape is a thing of beauty although highly unrealistic but, then again, who wants realism in their action pictures? This prison is one of those corrupt kinda joints where the inmates (in this case Robert D'Zar) appear to be running the place. The guards are taking naps apparently or, more likely, paid to look the other way. I did like Cash's deduction during their daring flight..."we jump to those wires and swing to the other side"...these are power lines..."as long as you're touching one wire and not touching the ground you won't fry.......right??". Fuck it, just do it man.

Their escape leads to the most titillating scene of the movie when Cash receives a massage from Teri Hatcher (ok, she's Tango's sister) and Tango barges in on them...."ok, I think it's in...oh yes, it's's in". Is she talking about his slipped disc or his member? I'll let you decide. Until you see the picture. The movie concludes with a scene filled with potential that just doesn't really live up to it. Tango and Cash are equipped with an "RV from hell" and have a demolition derby with an army of Palance's bucketloaders, big rigs, and what I'm pretty sure was Big Foot (the truck). It wrapped up too quickly for my money. I did like how Palance aped Howard Hughes and watched from his safe room filled with a vast array of televisions and piss bottles (I made that last part up). This is the last buddy cop picture worth watching in my opinion and it's a good one to go out with. Any movie that ends with a freeze frame of a high five which leads into a Bad English song is definitely worth your time.


Beepy said...

Teri Hatcher is a beautiful woman but does she really have enough to be a stripper? She's always struck me as kinda tiny. Maybe the owners of the club hired her purely for her dancing moves and asked her to remain clothed so as not to disappoint the patrons of the club.

As for your disappointment at not seeing enough boobs in these movies, cry me a river. Women have been putting up with this cinema tease for years. How many "love" scenes have we sat through without seeing the man below the waist? I'm guessing all this talk of "minnie mouse" and "tripod" was not backed up by any visual proof. What's good for the goose and all that.

brian said...

I think you are looking for the 'Boys on the Side' blog down the hall.

Teri Hatcher is, I am sure, deceptive in her proportions.

brian said...

Also, c'mon do women really want to see a guy below the waste? it's ugly and utilitarian. The camera doesn't love it. On the other hand, there's something aesthetically pleasing about a nice matching pair of...mmmmmmmm. about the actual movie?

elmo said...

I only saw parts as a kid, and the humor was over my head. Time for a second viewing.

And... er, you do know they make movies where all you see are jungos, right?

steve said...

Given the context here, I'm now unbearably curious to know WHICH 'parts' Elmo saw as a kid ...

steve said...

Jack Palance's performance in this movie is the funniest thing he ever did. He so clearly has no idea where he is.