Flashback: ‘Tango & Cash’ is money

Thu, May 14, 2009

DRock, Featured, Flashback Fridays, Goat, Reviews

Tango & Cash

This week Goat and DRock are taking the “Flashback Friday” machine all the way back to 1989 — when Sly Stallone and Kurt Russel teamed up to take down the likes of Clint Howard and Jack Palance. Between debating the artistic and ass-kicking merits of the titular characters, the Last Action Heroes manage to crank out a review of this classic buddy cop flick.

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Right about now, you’re all probably expecting to be treated with a one-of-a-kind review of “The Marine,” the latest action film to feature a professional wrestler as a protagonist. You’d be right that we promised it, but dead wrong about the delivery. After watching the hour and a half of “action” that the movie promised, we were less than thrilled. In fact, this movie was so bad, it pained us to watch or even attempt to recall at this point. Still not clear? Here’s an analogy for you: “The Marine” : awesome :: Martha Stewart : badass.

What happened to all the good action flicks of the 80s and 90s? We’re talking about the heyday of explosive cinema, with the likes of Seagal, Van Damme, Schwarzenegger and Norris as our guides. It was a glorious time, filled with buddy cop movies as far as the eye could see. You had some great pairings: Willis and Jackson (“Die Hard: With a Vengeance”), Van Damme and Rodman (“Double Team”), and even Norris and a sheep dog (“Top Dog”). But when you’re talking about dynamic duos, there are none greater than Stallone and Russell … better known as “Tango & Cash.”

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goatThis truly is a cinematic masterpiece, if I’ve ever seen one. You’ve got almost everything you could ever want from a movie all packed into a nice 104-minute package: action-packed introductions, an unjust trial, a creepy crime lord and some brutal prison beatdowns. “Tango & Cash” follows two competing L.A. cops who are framed for the murder of some nameless chump. They are sentenced to prison and, following a lengthy escape sequence, set about taking their revenge on the crime lord who set them up.

Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell star as Tango and Cash, respectively. They have an intense rivalry, but when placed against a common enemy (played by Jack Palance) they bond together into the greatest crime fighting team not named Delta Force. Palance is a bit of a stretch for an evil villain, as he seems more interested in kissing and playing with his pet mice than kicking any ass whatsoever.

He is much more like a lovable old grandpa than a menacing villain, leaving viewers to look toward the legions of underlings for their action fix. The best semi-villain in the entire film is played by none other than Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s younger and uglier brother. He plays Slinky, Tango’s cellmate during their prison stay. Unfortunately, he is non-existent for the remainder of the film, leaving me to wonder what could’ve been. I can always hope for a sequel, in which Slinky tries to get his revenge on Tango.
lah3drock1There can be no doubt that Tango is the superior of the two action dynamos. Everything from beatdowns, kills, Tango-Cash confrontations and one-liners are Tango’s territory in this glorious flick.

Tango can be likened to a new-age James Bond. He’s cocky, intelligent, good with guns, likes a suit and is proficient in high-tech weaponry. His cockiness is revealed in the opening scene of the movie where arguably one of the top one-liners of all-time is both hilarious and unique.

After stopping two villains driving a gas truck by firing his pistol into their windshield, Tango gets into a tangle with local law enforcement officials over how he apprehended the villains. “You’re outta your neighborhood big-city boy … I want your badge … I want your weapon … I want your ass. … Who in the fuck do you think you are?” Another cop standing on top of the gas-truck pipes in with “He thinks he is Rambo.”

Looking disgusted, but enjoying it, Tango replies, “Rambo is a pussy,” before firing his gun into the first compartment of the gas truck to reveal it is carrying what the Los Angeles Chronicle later proclaims is more than $1,000,000,000 in cocaine.

He also drops a well-timed question of Cash, asking him if he “bumped uglies with [his] sister” after Tango walks in on a massage session between his newfound partner in ass-kicking and his sister.
lah3goatI’ll give you the fact that Tango is indeed a badass in his own right. But when you put his anal, by-the-book cop next to Cash-money … well, there’s no comparison. Tango may be the steak in this relationship, but Cash is undoubtedly the sizzle that makes this pairing as incredible as it is.

Take a look at how we’re first introduced to Cash: He’s cruising around the neighborhood in his sweet ride, followed by legions of local children chasing after their hero. Then, as he’s reading his morning newspaper, a thug with a gun jumps him and shoots him twice — both shots to the chest. Cash dives to his fire escape and, raising his leg, shoots the punk with a boot gun. He then saves a bag lady, chases after this same thug in a stolen car, tears apart an entire parking garage and exposes a couple having sex in their vehicle, all before taking out this moronic assassin with a compact car and a little ingenuity. And how do we meet Tango? He outsmarts some yokel patrol officers, tries to act tough and shoots a hole in a semi. There’s simply no comparison.

One needs to look no further than his attire to see how lame Tango is. With his dorky glasses and three-piece suits, he looks more like an investment banker or accountant than an action hero. Cash, on the other hand, rocks only the finest in action wear: cowboy boots, ratty old jeans, a rockstar mullet and the best shirts KMart has to offer.

While Tango is the pretty boy who is more worried about his stocks than crime, Cash is the renegade cop with a bad attitude. In terms of action legitimacy, that’s yet another mark in Cash’s win column.

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drock1It doesn’t matter what the action hero wears, whether it be Armani suits or hideous mullets. As long as he’s as proficient with a machine gun as he is with his fist, all is well. Tango easily takes the cake in terms of superior cop and action duo here.

First of all, while both are officers in the LAPD, Cash hails from the Central Department, and Tango operates on the West side. They don’t put chumps on the West side of the gangster capital of the world if they are not bad to the bone and strapped to kill at a moment’s notice. That street credibility immediately transfers to the prison scene where Tango notches most of the kills and beatdowns, and even saves Cash’s life during the escape.

While walking to their cells, Cash gets his fair amount of verbal and physical abuse by many of the criminals he put away. Not once does he retaliate. Once in his prison cell, he gives up his right to the toilet to his cellmate without a fight and basically serves as his little bitch for the rest of the prison scene.

tangocashcoverTango, on the other hand, uses the natural street cred of any officer operating in a gangsta’s paradise. When verbally abused by a chump he put away many years ago, Tango responds by breaking the prisoner’s nose.

Later, when he reaches his cell, he ties up his annoying cellmate with his slinky, and when Cash comes to visit him before the escape, the lesser Howard sibling is scared shitless and does whatever Tango tells him to do. And when the two are being whisked out of their prison cell by rogue guards and plotting prisoners, only Tango comes up with a kill and a beatdown. When it comes to prison life and street credibility, Cash is Tookie Williams and Tango the O.G.

Later, when Cash’s escape plan backfires, it’s Tango that shows up on the scene to save him. Granted, Cash does save Tango’s life later, but it is still Tango that prevails in an atmosphere where only the most hardened of police officers could survive.

Finally, the most telling statistic of all. The one that no action hero can bullshit or lie their way out of. Kills and beatdowns. Tango also notches his first kill early in the movie while Cash takes a whopping 1:28:05 before his first. He also dominates overall with 10 kills to Cash’s six. Even when it comes to beatdowns, Tango takes the cake with 17 beatdowns to Cash’s 14. Considering the movie had a total of 16 kills and Tango had about two-thirds of them, we see who is the most proficient with a gun and a fist.

So while Cash is moonlighting as a stripper and transgender dancer, Tango is out studying stock options for his sister and garnering the street credibility that will save his ass in prison.

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goatYou can flap your gums all day about how much you love Tango, but the fact is he’s a wannabe cop who does this just to get his rocks off. When his captain asks him why he does what he does, he responds that he wants “action.” The only Tango that gets any action in this movie is his sister Kiki, who gets it on with none other than Cash. In fact, the closest Tango ever gets to flirting with anyone in the film is constantly accusing other men of wanting him.

And before you go off about Cash dressing like a woman to escape from the strip club, let me address this incident. He did have to stoop to using a terrible disguise rather than simply bashing some skulls, but that’s just the kind of hero Cash is — he’ll do anything necessary to win. He hits people below the belt, utilizes weapons at every opportunity and freaks out whenever anyone challenges him. He’s a loose cannon, but I’d rather have him on my team than some suit who whines whenever things don’t go his way.

But regardless of who is the better cop, the two are undoubtedly one tremendous combination. “Tango & Cash” is arguably the best buddy cop film ever made and makes a great addition to any action fan’s DVD library. I give it a mighty fine rating of four Schwarzeneggers, with a bonus Clint Howard for good measure.

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drock1There was never any kissing or sex between Cash and Tango’s sister, so to say that the two of them got any action is to say that Charles Parsons is the next Don Juan. It’s just not true, and if it were — repulsive.

I may not agree with your assessment as to who is the more dynamic of the duo, but one thing is for sure: Any movie that ends with a high-five and the commencement of an 80s rock ballad is going to rock some socks for decades to come. As such, I give “Tango & Cash” a rating of four Jean Claude Van Dammes and a bonus Dr. Dre for the limitless street credibility that Tango oozes from the LAPD’s Westside Division.

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