• Red Mob



    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: May 26th, 2017.
    Director: Vsevolod Plotkin
    Cast: Vladimir Menshov, Aleksandr Rozenbaum, Murad Aliyev
    Year: 1993
    Purchase From Vinegar Syndrome

    The Movie:

    When this 1993 action film made in the former Soviet Union begins, a highly trained Russian officer named Oleg is waiting at the airport for his son to arrive. The plan lands and the kid get out and after some small talk it’s time to head back to the training camp that Oleg runs. Oddly enough, the kid asks to drive Oleg’s jeep and sure enough, he does, but after almost getting in a head on they pull over and switch seats.

    Once they get to the camp, Oleg and his son reconnect, the younger of the two getting friendly with Oleg’s right hand man, a deadly mercenary type named Nikolai. The guys all goof around a bit out in the countryside, the kid jumping off of a rock onto his old man’s back and almost getting shot in the process – this is, after all, a camp where men come to train under the tutelage of Oleg and Nikolai to become as lethal in the art of combat as their instructors are. What no one realizes is that when the kid was on the plane, he was sitting next to a man named Jafar, a Russian mobster with ties to the KGB. He wants Nikolai to help his crew chauffeur some drugs across the Afghan border through the desert near their camp, but he refuses – and quite dramatically at that, as when they lay a suitcase full of money at his feet, he takes a chainsaw to it!

    Eventually the kid is taken hostage – he recognizes Jafar from the plane despite the fact that he’s shaved off his beard (something the kid seems only too happy to point out). This forces Oleg to lead Jafar’s team through the desert with the drugs – but guys like Oleg and Nikolai, they don’t go down without a fight. Oleg might appear to be cooperating but with help from his best buddy he’s got a secret plan to save his son, one that involves a lot of machineguns, a bazooka, a rocket launcher and some seriously fucking awesome helicopter assaults.

    Red Mob might have been made in the 90s but it sure feels like it came out of the eighties. Created using real stunt men, real explosions and 100% practical effects long before CGI became the norm, it’s a pretty entertaining watch chock full of screwy action, confusing plot twists and wonky characters. The whole thing falls apart if you think about it too much (why is a father trying to reconnect with his pre-pubescent son by bringing him to a military training camp for hardened, soldier of fortune types in the first place?) but as a fairly over the top action/war picture this one is a kick. When there aren’t shoot outs and explosions going on, there are moments of quieter character development but even these are ever so slightly alien, maybe because of the film’s unique cultural origins having been made around the time of the Iron Curtain’s fall. It’s interesting how the movie works in unique aspects of Russian culture into the storyline, the country’s relationship with its Islamic neighbors and stereotypical notions of machismo all in one weird cinematic stew!

    If it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how it’s all going to end, at least getting there is pretty enjoyable. The last half hour or so, when Oleg and Nikolai go all out to get the kid back, is some seriously solid action film entertainment. The shoot outs are well handled here but it’s the helicopter scenes all done using what look like actual Russian military hardware that leave the biggest and best impression. This one might not be deep and, particularly in its English dubbed form it might be frequently goofy, but if you’re willing to stick with it Red Mob does make for a pretty great way to kill two hours or so.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Red Mob makes its worldwide Blu-ray debut from Vinegar Syndrome in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen (“newly restored from its 35mm interpositive”) and generally speaking it looks very good. Some scenes are a little softer than others but this looks to be the way that the movie was shot. Mild print damage in the form of small white specks shows up here and there but it’s nothing too serious while color reproduction always looks fine. Black levels are good and there are no issues with any edge enhancement, obvious noise reduction or compression artifacts.

    Audio options are provided on the Blu-ray in English and Russian DTS-HD

    Extras include the alternate Russian version, with your choice of English or Russian subtitles. This one runs 1:50:48 versus the feature version (the American cut) at . Quality of the presentation is similar to the feature version.

    Aside from that, there are also two featurettes. The first is Producing Red Mob which runs eighteen minutes and interviews associate producer Arthur Schweitzer. He talks about how he became aware of the movie when it was mentioned to him by some Norwegian investors. He then talks about how Russia had never done a ‘western style action film’ and some of the challenges that were involved in getting this movie made into the picture that it is. He then details the involvement of some of the key players and discusses their background a bit, noting that the director also wrote the picture and was known in his homeland as an emerging talent. He then talks about the involvement of the department of defense and how they facilitated the hardware seen in the film, how it was shot in remote locations so they could use real explosives, injuries that happened on set when one of the leads broke his leg jumping from a helicopter, the editing of the picture and the marketing of the film, how the film was received when and where it played and loads more. Interesting stuff for sure.

    The second featurette is Shooting From The Hip and it’s a career retrospective with Schweitzer that covers the origins of Cinvest. This twenty-four minute piece lets Schweitzer talk about his background as a photographer, how he made a film while in school and eventually transitioned into the film business a step at a time in New York City after graduating. His love of films led him from moving away from commercial films to features where, with some luck, he found work as a producer. After getting into the distribution side of things, he had a hand in Kentucky Fried Movie and tells some fun stories about working on that, and then eventually wound up working for 21st Century Distribution. When that business folded he started Cinvest and he then goes on to detail some of the films that they had a hand in bringing out, noting that they were after pictures they could immediately monetize in different video and international markets. Once we get to this point he tells some stories about specific pictures they distributed like Dog Tags (he talks a lot about Romano Scavolini), travelling to Mississippi where they was a heavy KKK presence, working with Wildman Steve and quite a bit more.

    Outside of that we get a trailer for the feature, a still gallery, menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release there’s also a DVD version of the movie tucked away inside the clear Blu-ray sized keepcase. This is packaged with some nice reversible sleeve art and with a thick, cardstock slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Fans of eighties style action and war films should definitely give Red Mob a shot – it’s wonky and strange but it definitely delivers, especially in the film’s final third. Vinegar Syndrome has done a fine job bringing this genuine cinematic oddity to Blu-ray, offering it up in very nice shape and with a few extras that document its story and provide some welcome historical context.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!






























    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      I didn't even know about this movie where acclaimed director Menshov ('Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears') and a solid singer Rozenbaum worked together and VS release like oh my gosh!
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