Police lieutenant Raymond Tango (Sylvester Stallone) is in a high speed pursuit down a highway after a tanker, but the cops in the helicopter also chasing it keep telling him to back off, as this is now out of their jurisdiction. Tango will not be put off, and races ahead of the truck to stop some way down the road, gets out of his sports car and stands with his gun pointed at his quarry and waits for them to draw closer. When they are near enough, he opens fire and forces them to stop abruptly, sending them both crashing through the windscreen to land at his feet, whereupon he places them under arrest. All in a day's work for the second best cop in the state...
But wait, if he's second best who's the best? Well, Tango thinks it's him, but his main professional rival who believes otherwise is Gabriel Cash, played by another action movie behemoth, Kurt Russell, who is just as likely to bend the rules as Tango is to stick to them, but they both get their man and aaah... You could write this kind of thing in your sleep as the heyday of buddy action movies was moving into the nineties and starting to look passé, but if there was one thing that this item ramped up it was the camp. Quite a lot of the high octane thrillers of this time where bullets and fists flew had that quality, but here you could have been forgiven you were watching the pilot for a sitcom.
In truth, Stallone and Russell made a nice match, and they were obviously both keen to let their hair down even if director Andrei Konchalovsky wanted something more serious in tone, which is why he was given his marching orders before the shooting was completed. This started to get the reputation as a disaster before it was yet released, what with the rumours going round that it was a complete and unsalvageable mess, but as it turned out it was saved in the editing room, and a work fit for public consumption was offered up to the moviegoers of the world. Still, there wasn't much enthusiasm for it though it did eventually make its money back, but over the years some have appreciated its mix of bitchy he-men and over the top violence, turning it into a cult.
Still, you do wonder if they went too far - not in the violence, but in making this a comedy. The plot has Tango and Cash team up and swiftly get framed for murder by shadowy bad guy Yves Perret, played by Jack Palance who sounds as if he attempting an impression of The Count from Sesame Street without actually doing the Transylvanian accent. As if that wasn't odd enough, lower division bad guy Brion James shows up to do his own vocal stylings, ladies and gentlemen it's his Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins! Only a bit more sweary and less dancey. Anyway, to cut a long story short, our heroes are sent to prison for eighteen months for this crime they did not commit.
They then promptly escape from this maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground, but don't become The A-Team, they set out to clear their names, although not before they have a naked discussion in the showers that doubles as an exchange of "mine's bigger than yours, ducky" insults. Oh, and they get electrocuted by the prisoners, most of whom they put away, but not so much that they feel any ill effects after about ten seconds. We're not exactly in the realm of documentary realism here, if we were you probably wouldn't get as much enjoyment out of it, yet there's the sense that, say, watching Kurt Russell in drag is not quite as hilarious as the filmmakers thought it was, and the same can be said of many of the semi-spoofy, semi-we really mean it folks situations that the titular duo find themselves in. It all ends in more of a monster truck rally than a finale, but you can imagine it might have been worse and at least it has a degree of self awareness (which does skirt close to obliviousness - there's a trick). Music by Harold Faltermeyer.