Movie Filth: Tango & Cash
Like a bad case of the crabs that you just can’t shake, Tango & Cash has been lingering in my frontal cortex for the past squillion weeks. (Thanks channel 9). I’ve tried a lot of alternative sources of worst to wash away this visual skull fuck, but alas, none has worked. Master Chef, new episodes of The Simpsons and even A Current Affair have had a crack at one time or another. Well, it’s time to get out the tweezers and start getting surgical. I won’t lie, this is gonna hurt.
Wikipedia describes this flick as an “action/comedy”. It’s more like ‘comedy in the action’. With the comedy purely accidental, and thus, tragically hilarious. Of course any film involving Sly Stallone is gonna be funny, that goes without saying. But a buddy-cop film with one of the most over actor-ing actors in the biz (Kurt Russell) + Sly is a recipe for a good ol’ fashion 80’s abortion.
It starts with Sly wearing a set of suspenders standing in the middle of a desert highway staring down a speeding mack truck. Oh, I forgot, he’s wearing tortoise shell bespectacles and a vest as well. Do you know what he does? Of course you do. He pulls out his little police issued 6 shooter, empties the cartridges, proceeds to insert six mega bullets from the inside pocket of his blazer pocket and shoot the windscreen. The end result is this: “Glad you could drop by, I hope you like jewellery! (handcuffs, duh!)”…yeah. And that’s the dialogue we have to put up with for the next 90 fucking minutes.
Do you know what makes this movie kitsch-ily funny for a Vera Drake coathanger job? (PICK ME, PICK ME!) The archetypal characters. They are SO good (worst) you’d wish you went to the premiere yourself. To start with, you’ve got Jack Pallance. That’s right ladies, Jack ‘ Pick up the gun’ Pallance. i.e. ‘You all saw him, he had a gun’ line from Shane. For all the youngsters out there I recommend that film as a starting point for all things Pallance. Well, he didn’t say that, but he should’have. He plays the malevolent prison warden who has masterminded (?) the whole idiotic plot. If you were wondering, Jack keeps 2 mice in a wooden box. You heard right. In a wooden box. With no air holes. In a wooden box. He slides the top lid open and strokes these rodents when he’s scheming up one of his diabolical plans. Which seems to be every scene he’s in. A cringe worthy idea stolen from the cartoon ‘Inspector Gadget’, which was immensely popular at that time. The story is so scrambled you don’t even know he’s actually the warden until ¾ through the flick. And it’s not supposed to play out that way either. Pro Hart would think his visual assaults a piece of geometric symmetry genius compared to this plot line.
One of Pallance’s co baddies is a bloke by the name of Quan. You might know him by his real name, James Hong. This guy is the ubiquitous asian bad guy. I’m pretty damn sure he was in every action movie during the 1980’s. Casting agents just weren’t trying back then. If a movie needed an asian, James Hong got a tap on the shoulder. Since Asians were always cast as evil doers, every gig James Hong played involved some slippery back ally asian rat character that was trying to flog off stolen fireworks or imported heroin. He doesn’t get much of a guernsey in this flick but his facial expressions are just so, well, asian. I can’t think of anyone else, asian or non, who does a better “rudely surprised” asian face in the business. If you want an old asian guy to be “rudely surprised”, James Hong is your man.
Who do ya think plays the sexy sidekick in this? Good guess, but it wasn’t Daryl Hannah. Don’t know? It was Terri Hatcher! Pre desperate housewives, pre Lois & Clark and pre guest spots on Seinfeld. She looks pretty damn close to what she looks like now, only in Tango she was carrying around a fire hazard on her head and she enjoyed wearing that 80’s leotard that Jane Fonda was responsible for. You know the one, the sides go up over the hips and you feel sorry for the ladies with the big vulva’s. I’m pretty sure that get- up was designed by some deranged camel- toe loving fetish fiend. No wonder it’s shelf life was so short. Anyway, she’s Sly’s sister and works as a secretary at the copshop for about half a nano second at the start of the film until she disappears somewhere, (they never bother explaining why), and then re-appears towards the end of the film. Oh, that’s right, she went to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a nightclub dancer. I’m not kidding here. That was her dream when she was 8. To dance in front of hairy, sweaty, balding, masturbating-under-the-table elderly men. I guess dancing in Swan Lake just wasn’t risqué enough. Either that or nostalgia can be a bitch. Kurt somehow makes time to bone her using his combination of bon jovi hair and his incredibly inane charms. Which of course teri Hatcher falls for because this irritates straight laced brother/father Sly… Somebody waterboard me.
The scene where Sly and Kurt meet for the first time is side slappingly hilarious. Remember Lady & the Tramp and that spaghetti scene? The two dogs are playing all coy and flirting in that adorable forced innocent way. Times that scene by 2 win-at-all-costs cops, add a lot of terrible wise cracking and wollah! You have a recipe for box office poison. To start off with, Kurt is carrying around this HUGE glock with a laser attached to it. It looked like it was taken straight from Q-Zar. Is that place still around? Meanwhile, Sly clearly thought he was on the set of The Untouchables. Right before this scene exploded onto the screen, Sly was having a conversation with his stockbroker?! That’s right, Sly said this “7 ¼ yield, that’s good money”. Finally an explanation for the suspenders, for the tortoise shell glasses and for the pin striped suit. He’s business savvy! Ala Eliot Ness franticly trying to pull his shares out of ‘Beer Baron’s Definitely Illegal Underground Bootlegging Corp. Inc.” You have no idea the amount of relief that will sweep over you after Sly dribbles out that line: “7 ¼ yield, that’s good money”. It finally makes sense! The 1929 suits. The unnecessary suspenders. The American Psycho tortoise shell glasses. Everything adds up like one big, giant, tits & all beautiful equation! No more guessing!, no more shaking your fist at the t.v!, no more confusion! If I ever knock up a young lady, that’s what I’m gonna call it: “7 ¼ yield, that’s good money”.
There is more, a lot LOT more. But I’ve had a gut full.
Rent it on VHS.