Before commenting on "Red Dawn" I have to say that I am from the "Evil Empire". It is necessary to include a comparison to a Soviet movie about PartisansResistance Movement called "The Black Birch"(1978) to see where "Red Dawn" is just propaganda.
"Black Birch" is quite similar to "Red Dawn". There is the ruthless enemy, in this case the Nazi invasion troops. There is massive destruction of urban areas(cities) by the invasion forces, many civilians are killed. The heroes hide in the forest and form a PartisanResistance Group. The group rescues a downed Soviet pilot, and fights enemy Snow troops during the Winter.
This is where the similarities end. The Partisans in "Black Birch" are not 7 kids living on canned soup in the mountains, they are mostly full grown adults, and out of around 50 people about 30 are soldiers trapped behind enemy lines. The leader of this Partisan group is not a High School Football team Quarterback, he is an experienced Army Captain who served in an Artillery battery. The unit wages a successful campaign against German Supply trains not because they "know how to hunt" but because they have the military training and use it effectively.
The viewer gets to see what the characters think and how their lives transform during war time and in the ruined cities of peace time after the invaders are defeated. The "ruthless" Germans in the movie do execute "terrorist collaborators"; they use a woman who treated wounded Partisans as an "example" to the rest of the local population. In "Red Dawn" local people are sadistically executed for no real reason in the middle of no-where to the music of the Soviet Anthem.
"Black Birch" had plenty of scenes to make people think about the hardship and suffering of being a Resistance Fighter, in "Red Dawn" the kids act like Rambo for most of the movie. Suffering? In the middle of a forest with little to survive on, no suffering here!
"Red Dawn" was very much like the other American movies starting with "Red" or "Rambo" during the 1980's and 90's. There was the handful of super-human Americans and 1,000's of incompetentgreedyevil RedsCommiesRussians. Even "Red Heat" stereotyped Russians as cold and emotionless.
All of the above makes sense if this movie is nothing more than Propaganda.
1. Excessive use of national symbols to build up patriotism in the population.
2. De-humanizing the enemy. Joseph Goebbels would be proud of some of the scenes, several examples: a. Just several minutes into the movie before the Paratroopers start killing everything that moves the school teacher is talking about the "Mongol Horde" and how it destroyed everything in its path wiping out civilization. Historically Nazi Propaganda referred to Russians and Slavs as the "sub-humans" who originated from "Asiatic" blood, the "Great Asian Horde from the East"(Russia) were to be wiped out because they "threatened" the 3rd Reich. Nazis linked "barbaric" Mongolian culture with Russian, and dehumanize Russians and those like them as sub-human monsters, just like in "Red Dawn". b. The BTR crew are shown as rapists(directly out of Goebbel's own speeches) who chase after any woman and sexually assault her, in fact as I understand it, apparently my own culture is nothing but "mafia, rapists, and maniacs" according to the American point of view. c. The execution scene. Again, those "monsters without souls" massacre dozens of civilians without a reason; bodies pile up in mass graves. The Director thinks Soviet Army = Waffen SS, and that scene associating the Soviet Anthem with Mass Murder was just intentional propaganda. The Waffen SS did it for 2 reasons, General Plan Ost "Genocide Campaign" in the USSR, and as revenge for Partisan attacks on German officers in which 100 civilians were executed for each dead German officer. No such policy was ever practiced by the Soviet Army after WW2, because it never worked, it always had the opposite effect.
3. Heroes with Super-human abilities. There is no doubt in my mind that the "Wolverines" represent the American "Super Race"(Aryans). The Director borrows from Fascist propaganda to make his characters appear as perfect individuals fighting against the "inferior"(Russian) enemies.
4. Message is filled with strong feelings for domestic Political Ideology. Just like the Ultra-Nationalist countries the Americans in this movie are depicted as fiercely loyal to their form of government and economics. Even if their government is wrong, it is always right. Anybody who associates himher self with other political views is "un-American". Communism and Socialism are so twisted in this movie that it appears no different from the Racist system of Nazi Germany.
Other points: a. There were no "Re-education Camps" used by the Soviet Army in the 1980's, in Afghanistan there were regular Prisons for suspected insurgents. b. In no way was this film realistic as some claim. And Afghanistan and Chechnya are not Colorado. Afghans were trained to fight from age 12, Chechen separatists were former-Soviet Army troops and officers. Afghans live a life stuck in the 12th century with mud brick homes without electricity or running water or any other modern "western" household items (death in battle is the fastest way to heaven). The only real possession 50% of Afghans have is a rifle, mostly Bolt-Action in the 1980's, but thanks to American efforts now include automatic rifles. And Afghans fight in Clan wars, Pashtuns against Tajiks and Turkmen against Arab Bedouins, by the age of 30 most have combat experience, while to Americans hunting is only a "sport", fighting to Afghans means surviving in life. c. During the film Soviet troops are shown in Parade Uniforms instead of Battle Dress Uniform. Long Great-coats and bright red epaulets were no longer used in front line service by 1960. Olive Drab(and camouflage) was the only color one had on a uniform, and Parkas replaced the long brown colored Coats. Body Armor vests and helmets were also issued to Soldiers in 1984.
Review by Alexei Kalinov from the Internet Movie Database.