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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Red Dawn

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth star in a scene from the movie "Red Dawn."
Gleefully paranoid, hyperviolent and more than a little racist, the remake "Red Dawn" (FilmDistrict) is a time-waster for the tinfoil hat set.

The 1984 original pitted American youths against invading Russkies, to use the vintage term. It played out against the "Evil Empire" stage of the Cold War—a time when the Soviet Union was actually in decline, but both nations were still aiming considerable nuclear weaponry at each other, as they had done since the 1950s.

This time, director Dan Bradley and co-writers Carl Ellsworth and Jeremy Passmore launch a North Korean air invasion on the Pacific Northwest. The monolithic but clever commies have shut down the whole power grid using some secret technology. So, no TV, Internet or radio communications, except for what can be done with batteries.

Not a problem for a bunch of plucky teens led by ex-soldier Jed (Chris Hemsworth), son of Spokane Police Chief Tom Eckert (Brett Cullen). He and brother Matt (Josh Peck) transform pals Toni (Adrianna Palicki), Robert (Josh Hutcherson), Erica (Isabel Lucas) and Daryl (Connor Cruise)—along with some others -- into a stone-cold militia equally adept as snipers, insurgents and survivalists.

The commandoes nickname themselves the Wolverines, after their high school mascot. The Wolverines torment the occupiers for a good 90 minutes but never manage to overthrow them, since they have neither the requisite numbers nor the necessary firepower. They also deal harshly with collaborators.

Aided by the Russians, the North Koreans, we learn, have parachuted in and overtaken most of the United States except for a portion from Alabama to Arizona, and Michigan to Montana. (In this milieu, they don't mess with Texas.) Evidently, the Mexicans and Canadians aren't coming to anyone's rescue, let alone those Euro-wimps from NATO.

The Koreans are handing out summary executions, and the theme of the picture is laid out when Chief Eckert has a gun held to his head by Captain Lo (Will Yun Lee), the new local prefect.

"I want you to go to war and stop this (expletive)!" Eckert shouts to his sons, whom he knows are hiding in the vicinity, "Or die trying!"

So they fight 'em in the woods, and blow 'em up downtown. The only morality consists of getting the enemy before they get you, and skin color and eye shape largely determine who's evil.

The film contains constant gun violence, occasional gore, racist characterizations, fleeting profanity and pervasive crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions: Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter. 
<p>His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him." </p><p>At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan. </p><p>They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution. </p><p>They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears. </p><p>The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions. </p><p>In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators. </p><p>The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded. </p><p>In 1987, Blessed John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.</p> American Catholic Blog We don’t have to scrub off our sin so God can love us. Instead, when we allow God’s healing love to touch us, we want to leave sin behind. Growth starts in love, not in guilt.

 
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