Friday Fisticuffs: Tango & Cash (1989)

For this New Year’s Eve version of Friday Fisticuffs I went with what I thought was a minor classic of the 80s/90s heyday of action flicks, Tango & Cash. This flick about two cops who get thrown in jail and eventually get their revenge against a corrupt system starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell respectively turned out to be pretty good (this was my second viewing, though I don’t remember much from the first), but the rapid fire puns nearly put me out of the game. They come fast and furious from our two leads who have done serious action flicks like Rambo and Escape From New York and apparently felt like having some fun with this one. Well, a few here and there work, but nonstup punage is no fun for anyone. I can’t believe they weren’t cringing througout the movie. The funny thing is that the original director the movie was fired because he wanted to the movie to be more serious and they wanted it to be more “funny.” In the end, it turns out to be a pretty cool, though way WAY over the top action movie (there’s the equivalent of Q’s lab, a tricked out SUV with armor and guns and the whole nine and people not being able to spot Kurt Russell in drag. HE LOOKS THE SAME!) with far too many one-liners for anyone’s good.

In addition to the two leads who ham it up throughout the flick, the rest of the case plays things pretty straight. You’ve got Jack Palance as the bad guy, Brion James and James Hong has his lieutenants and Teri Hatcher as Tango’s sister/Cash’s love interest. They all do a great job, I love seeing Palance as a bad guy and Hatcher is a long-time crush of mine from her Lois Lane days.

The flick is probably more of an action flick than a fighting movie, but I think it still makes sense as an FF entry. 40 minutes in you get the first real brawl with Tango and Cash teaming up against a small legion of inmates trying to kill them. There’s lots of punching, kicking and head crashing. All good stuff. At the end you get another great series of fights after T&C drive the aforementioned beefed up SUV to the bag guy’s HQ and fight their way to the end.

The funny thing about this movie is that my memory tells me it is capital A Awesome, but when I watch it, I find myself groaning more than cheering. Had they gone with a more serious tone or just dubbed out a percentage of those awful puns and one-liners I think the movie would hold up a lot better. Maybe the original director could get a Director’s Cut and we’d have ourselves a better movie.

One thought on “Friday Fisticuffs: Tango & Cash (1989)

  1. Stallone and Russell play well off each other, and with Palance lurking in the background, this buddy-breakout never loses its way. It’s crazy, but at the same time, very fun. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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