Bullet Points: The Rescue
Today’s topic… teenagers!
In the 1980’s there were two kinds of teenagers. There were the teenagers of reality that spent most of their free time on the phone, at the mall or watching MTV. And then there were the movie teenagers that could do just about anything… find a pirate treasure, kill a vampire with their favorite TV host, successfully impersonate a member of the opposite of the sex, save the Earth from an alien invasion, win the All-Valley Karate Tournament or in the case of 1988’s The Rescue, sneak into North Korea to rescue their Navy SEAL dads.
- Bogus: Ok, here’s the situation… a United States submarine is dead in the water somewhere between North and South Korea. Aside from the men on board the vessel, the sub is also carrying advanced military equipment that the North Koreans would love to get their hands on. Admiral Rothman (James Cromwell) orders that a three man SEAL team go in to rescue the crew of the submarine and then destroy the submarine and its contents. Commander Howard (Charles Haid), Commander Merrill (Edward Albert) and Lt. Phillips (Timothy Carhart) are tasked with this important mission. The mission is a success… until the SEAL trio find themselves in North Korean waters. It is at that point that they are captured by the North Korean army and charged with espionage. An intricate plan called Operation Phoenix is devised to rescue Howard, Merrill and Phillips… but at the last minute the Secretary of Defense shuts it down, with the hope being the United States and North Korea can enter into negotiations for the release of the prisoners peacefully.
- Tubular: The progeny of the three captive SEALS, JJ Merrill (Kevin Dillon), Adrian Phillips (Christine Harnos), Shawn Howard (Ned Vaughn) and Bobby Howard (Ian Michael Giatti of The Great Outdoors fame) don’t understand why the Navy has decided against rescuing their fathers, especially when the SEALS are known for never leaving a man behind. With some help from the Admiral’s son Max (Marc Price), JJ, Adrian and Shawn get their hands on the plans for Operation: Phoenix and decide to carry out the operation themselves. In order to do this, the teenagers steal Adrian’s mothers car and sneak off the naval base they all live on in South Korea. JJ, who has a reputation for sneaking off the base and missing curfew, knows a guy in Seoul who can hook them up with a boat… things don’t go exactly as planned as the teenagers learn a tough life lesson, you can’t trust shady people! To add to the mess, little Bobby stows away in the trunk of the car, thus forcing them to bring him along on a mission that would be extremely dangerous for trained military personnel let alone 4 teenagers and a kid.
- Wicked: By some miracle our young heroes make their way into North Korea, after an adrenaline rush of a boat chase. Once in North Korea they manage to meet up with the point of contact as outlined in Operation: Phoenix, Kim Song (Melvin Wong). Song is super impressed with the guts the kids showed making it as far as they did, but he’s not about to allow them to continue on with their mission. He gives them a place to stay for the night and informs them he’ll get them back to South Korea in the morning… but teenagers are know for being rebellious and hard headed and this group of teenagers may be the most rebellious and hard headed of them all. They decide they are going to go on with the mission with or without Kim Song’s help.
The final act of The Rescue is filled with literal and figurative fireworks in a movie that could only have come from the 1980’s.
The Rescue borrows heavily from Iron Eagle and sprinkles in some elements from The Goonies and mixes in the usual teenage tropes like the rivalry between bad boy JJ and the preppy Shawn and JJ’s rocky relationship with his father because after all… parents just don’t understand.
SPOLIER ALERT! The Rescue also features the happy ending you’d expect from a movie like this. Sorry if you were expecting a bunch of dead teenagers who failed to rescue their fathers.
But back to the subject of happy endings, let’s end this review with some Bonus Bullet Points…
- Composed By: The score for The Rescue was done by Bruce Broughton. Broughton was also the composer for such films as Tombstone, The Monster Squad and The Presidio.
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Skippy from Family Ties in drag then this is the movie for you. Marc Price, who played Max Rothman in The Rescue is probably most famous for playing Alex P. Keaton’s best friend Skippy on Family Ties. Max dresses in drag and poses as Adrian’s mom as he drives her car off the base.
- Favorite Quote: “Incredible!” – Kim Song
- If You Ever: …wanted to see “The Boss” Bruce Springsteen save the day in an action movie, The Rescue is about as close as you are going to get. As our young rescuers and their fathers try to make their way back to South Korea in a jalopy of a plane, they find themselves surrounded by some Navy jets thinking they are the enemy and looking to shoot them down. Bobby pops out the top hatch and does his best Clark Kent impersonation, ripping open his shirt to reveal a Bruce Springsteen “Born in the USA” t-shirt.