Telling the simple story of L.A.’s two best cops – rivals Raymond Tango (Stallone) and Gabriel Cash (Russell) – who team up after being framed by a crime boss (Jack Palance), TANGO & CASH is a pretty blatant attempt at the buddy cop comedy formula and for good reason. The previous year had been a big reality check for Stallone. Reeling from the disappointments of COBRA (1986) and OVER THE TOP (1987), Sly retreated to the land of comfort for him – the sequel. In this case it was the further adventures of his now superhuman Vietnam vet in RAMBO III (1988). Unfortunately, American audiences were tired of the character and the film drew a disappointing $53.7 million in the United States (the film still did well overseas). That summer audiences had turned their back on John Rambo for another John – John McClain. DIE HARD (1988) proved to be a breakout hit and ended up the highest grossing action film of that year. Stallone took note of people preferring more “realistic” action scenarios and adjusted his filmography accordingly.
On a final note, I still find TANGO & CASH to be guilty pleasure. It is so over-the-top that you can’t help but enjoy it. The one place the film did score was in the cult actor casting department. In addition to Palance as the lead bad guy, you also had supporting roles by James Hong, Brion James, Michael J. Pollard, Geoffrey Lewis, and Clint Howard. And the prison thugs included Robert Z’Dar (off whom Stallone makes a funny Schwarzenegger put down), Billy Blanks, and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez. Not bad at all.
Yes, this is from the actual movie: