Tango & Cash

(Andrei Konchalovsky, USA, 1989)


Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky has had an unusual career path since relocating in America, moving from whimsy to pretentiousness, sentimentality to gross physicality – often within the same film.

After such highly-wrought assignments as Runaway Train (1985) and Shy People (1987), this one is light entertainment in an overworked formula – Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as mismatched buddy cops set against the baddies and the system alike.

The violence is agreeably cartoonish, and Konchalovsky has clearly learnt expert lessons from the films of John Carpenter, Walter Hill, and the Chinese action-comedies of Jackie Chan.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the film is its knowing but nervous running gags about the racial tensions in America's melting pot society, and the uneasy heterosexual masculinity of the heroes – particularly when they're taking showers together or dressing up as women.

Postscript: According to some sources, Konchalovsky in fact quit the production, and it was directed (uncredited) by Albert Magnoli (Purple Rain [1984], Street Knight [1993]).

MORE Konchalovsky: The Inner Circle, Lumière and Company

© Adrian Martin May 1992

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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