The remake of Red Dawn is set to hit movie theaters later this week. Based on the 1984 film where the Soviet Union invades the United States, the remake has the same basic premise but instead changes the invaders to North Korea. But could this ever really happen in real life? The answer is no.
This storyline was already played out in the 2011 video game Homefront where, after a series of events, North Korea invaded the United States in the year 2025. In an article I published prior to the game's release titled "Could Homefront really happen?" I spoke with Dr. Robert Kane, an Associate Professor of History at Niagara University with a background in Asian Studies. He had this to say about the game's storyline at the time:
"The game assumes no responsive capabilities by the United States. For example, simply allowing North Korea to absorb South Korea, a democratic U.S. ally with a vibrant capitalist economy, in the next two years would never happen, no matter how many nukes North Korea acquires. The 1,000 missiles in 2011 part is just not plausible either...the USSR had far more than that during the Cold War and could never coerce the U.S. into capitulating."
Although the events leading up to invasion in Red Dawn probably don't play out exactly like they do in Homefront, the very prospect of North Korea invading the United States at all is absurd, according to Dr. Kane, because of the fact they do not even have a blue water navy.
"...even though the Japanese Empire encompassed a fifth of the globe in 1942, it never came close to capturing either (Hawaii or San Francisco), which was simply beyond its capabilities."
If a powerful empire like Japan could not even capture little old Hawaii during World War II, how can people believe North Korea, a country with a GDP comparable to Ethiopia, could ever hope to occupy the United States?
So why is this even important? It's just a movie, right? It's not supposed to be completely realistic. Well the fact of the matter is this movie isn't listed in the "fantasy" genre. It's classified as an action war film which means there needs to be a certain degree of plausibility for it to be enjoyable. Saving Private Ryan was a great movie because viewers could believe the events on the screen actually could have transpired during the war. Now imagine if the Germans had Star Wars-esque blaster rifles or something. The film would have been a laughing stock!
Movies like Red Dawn are supposed to present a "what if?" scenario but you can only ask such a question if what is being presented could ever actually take place. The plot in Red Dawn is simply too far'fetched.
What is also interesting is that the country invading the U.S. was originally meant to be China but was changed in post-production amidst real life controversy that the United States was trying to "demonize" China. So the Chinese army ended up being changed to North Korean. This is a shame because the United States being invaded by China actually could have been an interesting concept.
The result is that Red Dawn has become yet another example of how political correctness and overly sensitive people can ruin entertainment. The script was changed so no feelings were hurt (and so Red Dawn could be shown in Chinese theaters), but in the process the movie was ruined.