The title for this post is actually a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, Red Dawn. Which, by extreme coincidence (or lack thereof) is what this post is about.
The background to the story is as follows (as quoted from the opening title cards):
1983: Soviet Union suffers worst wheat harvest in 55 years... Labor and food riots in Poland. Soviet troops invade... Cuba and Nicaragua reach troop strength goals of 500,000. El Salvador and Honduras fall... Greens Party gains control of West German Parliament. Demands withdrawal of nuclear weapons from European soil... Mexico plunged into revolution... NATO dissolves. United States stands alone.(So, basically, The USSR is plunged into famine, most of Central America falls to Communism, NATO is disbanded, it's just the USA vs. the USSR.)
The movie starts in mid-September 1984 at the high school in the town of Calumet, Colorado. Everything seems normal, until the students notice the Paratroopers landing on their football field. What they are witnessing is the opening blow in a joint Russian/Cuban/Nicaraguan invasion of the United States of America. As World War III erupts around them, eight students manage to escape into the mountains. After a month of hiding, the kids are discovered by a trio of Soviet officers, whom they kill. In retribution for the deaths, the Soviet Commander has the students' families executed. Adopting the name of their high school's football team, the Wolverines, the kids launch their own privare guerilla war against the Communist invaders.
I know, I know, this sounds really cheesy, but it's actually a very good film. It's pretty realisticand the characters (both the good guys and bad guys) are all three-dimensional. It also shows the true horrors of war and doesn't try to glorify the conflict at all.
What I like about this movie is that the protagonists (The Wolverines) don't start out with a macho "Let's kill us some Commies!" attitude. Their only goal at first is to escape, then avoic, the Russians. After they take out the three Russian soliders, again, they don't go "Well, that was easy. Let's get us some more!" Instead, they start fighting after their families are slaughtered. They're don't begin fighting because they want to, they start fighting because-in their minds-they have to. Over the course of the film, the group of scared school kids transforms into a hardened band of guerilla fighters. Likewise, the battle-hardened Nicaraguan commander in charge of the area around Calumet slowly becomes disgusted with the war, wanting only for his tour of duty to end so he can go home to his family. In short, this isn't just a war movie, it's also a sort-of character study.
Like every movie, this one has it's faults. First, the Russians stay pretty dumb for a little too long. Secondly, the special effects are not too great, even for 1984 (the film was shot on a really low budget), and the acting (and to some, the plot) is, well, no one here would have earned an Oscar for Red Dawn unless Hell froze over.
I won't give away too much of the plot, but I will say that this movie doesn't have a very happy ending. I'm not the most emotional person on the planet, but as many times as I've seen the film, the ending still moves me to tears.
Despite it's relative anonymity, Red Dawn actually served as a major launchpad for a number of well-known actors, including Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C. Thomas Howell, and Jennifer Grey. An interseting bit of movie trivia; Swayze and Grey would costar together three years later in the famous chick-flick Dirty Dancing.
If I ever get around to starting a paintball or an airsoft team, I'm gonna name it "The Wolverines" after this movie. Yes, I love Red Dawn that much. Plus, "WOLVERINES!" makes one heck of a battle cry. That's one of my favorite moments from this movie; Matt Eckert(Charlie Sheen) standing atop a cliff, AK-47 held high, letting the Soviets know who just kicked their butts.
If at all you're interested in this movie, you can get it on DVD at Blockbuster. I highly recommend it.
The main reason I love Red Dawn is that it makes me think; If I were in those kids' shoes, could I have done what they did? Could I pick up a gun and defend my country from invasion? Or would I just stand there, scared stiff as a board, while the USA fell around me? I'd like to think I'd do the former, but I really don't know.
Ask yourself this question; If you looked out you window and saw the Chinese or the Iranians, or even the North Koreans landing in your backyard, what would you do? Surrender and submit to their rule? Or go down hard with a rifle in your hands, defending your freedom? You don't have to comment what you decide. Quite frankly, I don't give a hoot. Just think about it.
I leave you with this quotation from Theodore Roosevelt, an edited version of which appears on a statue in the film's opening shots:
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.