For me, Tango & Cash is one of those “go-to” movies. You know the ones. It’s Saturday night, you have no plans and you can’t be bothered to dig through your collection or trawl through Netflix to find something new and exciting to watch. You want something you KNOW will be good, you want a cinematic equivalent of a comfort blanket.
The likes of Rocky IV, Army of Darkness and most Arnie films are the cornerstones of my “go-to” list. I know exactly what I’m getting and I’ll have as good a time watching it as I did the first ever time. I know our friend Ben Wyatte over at the Asiamania podcast would always recommend the classic No Retreat No Surrender (although I rather think he’s a sucker for the homo-erotic training sequences!), but the point is everyone has some.
Another one of mine is the always entertaining Tango & Cash. The other night I felt in the mood to put it on so grabbed the Blu-Ray and checked in on IMDB (as any movie nerd should!) and as the film began I had a quick peruse of the trivia section on IMDB and was met with something I never knew about the film…it was the last movie released in 1989. Meaning Tango & Cash is the last movie of the 1980’s!
A quick jaunt over to Wikipedia proves it – released on December 22nd 1989, Tango & Cash was the last theatrically released film of the decade in the United States. So close enough to last movie of the 1980’s for me!
As most people know the film was beset with production problems. Director Andrei Konchalovsky (based known for one of Cannon Films most successful ventures in Runaway Train) was fired and replaced with an uncredited Albert Magnoli, the film went over budget and over time and in the end Stuart Baird had to come in and do a huge edit job to get it out for Christmas 1989, but I think we should look at the film more positively as this is how the 80’s went out! Although the case could be made that a movie that cost more than it was supposed to and was a completely overblown mess was vindictive of the entire decade.
A look at the cast makes it seem like an 80’s all star reunion. You have the leads in Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. To say they had a good decade is quite the understatement. But the entire film is covered in character actors that always cropped up in stuff in the 80’s.
Brion James (doing the best British accent ever), Geoffrey Lewis, James Hong, Robert Z’Dar, Clint Howard and even former “In Conversation With” guest Shabba-Doo all crop up as we go along. It almost feels like a class reunion of all these familiar faces.
The music of the film seems like a swan song for the decade too. Harold Faltermeyer, who will eternally be known for Axel F, submitted his final score of the decade. A decade that included work on Beverly Hills Cop (of course), Fletch, Top Gun, The Running Man and Thief of Hearts.
And if I’m talking music I would be remiss to mention the fist pumping end credits song, “Best of What I’ve Got” by Bad English. A song there that is only rivalled for “We Fight For Love” by Power Station for best end credits song…ever!
And even Bad English were a quintessential 80’s band. Formed by members of Journey and John Waite, these guys sound was that great 80’s anthemic rock mix of catchy songs, keyboards and massive guitar solos (and even bigger hair!)
For me, Tango & Cash is the culmination of everything great about the decade. Mega star actors the likes of which we don’t see these days in Stallone and Russell, an amazing and eclectic supporting cast, a production that in 2015 would have been shut down and binned with all it’s problems, a soundtrack that cannot be beat and perhaps most importantly a scene where the two leads just get their arses out for NO REASON AT ALL. I doubt that your Tom Cruises or Vin Diesel’s would go for so pointless a scene. Nic Cage might though, actually.
So the next time you stick on Tango & Cash, just have a think about what you are watching. It is movie history, the very best of the 80’s condensed into one motion picture. Yeah, the early 90’s produced some great action flicks, but as the credits roll and the synth keyboards and guitar riffs are blaring out you’ll agree…we never had it so good.
Article by Thom, 80’s Picturehouse Co-Host
Image Courtesy of Mattfind.com © 2015.