You can sum up "Red Heat" by saying it is a cop-buddy movie with a slice of culture clash thrown in, not exactly new back in 1988 when it came out. But whilst there is nothing in the least bit special about "Red Heat" it works, the amusement of a stiff Russian cop and a laid back American cop working together is amusing. That amusement comes from the perfect casting of James Belushi whose continual wise cracks work well with Arnold Schwarzenegger's purposeful stiffness.
Wanted by the Russian police for various crimes including drug dealing and cop killing Viktor Rosta (Ed O'Ross) escapes to America where he ends up arrested for running a red light. Capt. Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger - The Running Man) who has been after Viktor for some time is sent to Chicago to collect him and is met at the airport by the smart mouthed Det. Sgt. Art Ridzik (James Belushi - About Last Night...) who mocks his stiff Russian ways. But when they go to collect Viktor from the county jail he manages to escape and now Ivan and Art must work together to try and capture him.
So as I said there is nothing amazingly original about "Red Heat" although to my knowledge there are not many cop-buddy movies about an American and Russian joining forces. But it does mean that "Red Heat" is pretty obvious not only when it comes to the storyline which of course sees Ivan and Art becoming friends but when it comes to the humour of the laid back American ways and the stiff Russian ways. I suppose if you wanted to be really clever you could say it is a comedy about Capitalism and Communism but that sort spoils the point of the movie if you over analyse it.
But as I said it works with the predictable mix of action and humour which you expect from an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The opening scene which takes place in a steamy Russian gym where muscle bound men in loin cloths lift weights whilst naked babes dip in the pool sets what to expect when it comes to action, over the top, sound effect enhanced but entertaining in a daft sort of the way. And then you have the humour with James Belushi delivering wise crack after wise crack be it mocking Russian ways or just funny lines such as when he goes to get food and says "I'm gonna get us something from all four food groups: hamburgers, french fries, coffee and doughnuts".
In many ways it is the pairing up of Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi who make the movie as there chalk n cheese chemistry works. Beyond that it is a case that along with various obligatory naked women there are some recognizable faces including Peter Boyle, Laurence Fishburne and Gina Gershon.
What this all boils down to is that "Red Heat" is an entertaining mix of cop-buddy and culture clash but it is nothing great, just entertaining. But it does benefit from the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi who work well together.