Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a tough Moscow cop on the trail of Viktor Rostavili (Ed O'Ross) the drug dealer who killed his partner. When Viktor turns up in Chicago, having paid an American woman to marry him and being held by the local police on minor charges, Danko is sent to bring him back.
The Soviet government does not want to tell the Americans just how important a prisoner they have and so, unalerted to the danger, the Chicago cops arrange a casual handover and the rest of Viktor's gang manage to spring him. In the process, one of the two Chicago cops with Danko is killed and that leaves him and Art Ridzik (James Belushi) together on a mission. They have both lost a partner to Viktor and they want to get him.
Thrown into the mix is the inevitable element that both men are seen as unreliable by their superiors and that, while they start out with a lot of mutual suspicion, it turns into respect as they become buddies.
All of the above sounds pretty much the standard Hollywood cop story formula and that does not bode well but this movie wins on its execution and balance. It's very well edited with a constant but not overwhelming flow of action and a script that gives both Belushi and Schwarzenegger occasion to deliver moments of levity.
Both leads are well cast and they do a good job together and you can believe not just in the characters but in the way that they rub along together.
Despite the fact that parts of the movie were shot in Russia and Eastern Europe using local actors, the movie does not seem to move beyond a stereotyped view of the people and country. That is really just a small criticism though and the important thing is that this is one of the best buddy-cop movies around.