Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cobra (1986)

Title: Cobra (1986)

Director: George P. Cosmatos

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen


Here’s the thing I respect about Sylvester Stallone, and it’s a thing that in many ways puts him above even Arnold Schwarzenegger himself: Sylvester has never stopped being a filmmaker, he’s never let go of his artistic side. While Arnold deviated from filmmaking towards politics (actually going down a couple of notches in my cool-o-meter for doing just that) Sylvester has never stopped making movies. One of the aspects of Stallone that is most intriguing is that he writes his own freaking films, and this is something that elevates Stallone above Schwarzenegger because it shows that Stallone has that creative/artistic side about him which he has never abandoned, while Arnold only seems to care about being #1 no matter what he is doing, be it politics, weight lifting or making movies. Schwarzenegger’s creative output (aside from his acting of course)  only went as far as directing a made for tv movie called Christmas in Conneticut (1992) an episode of Tales from the Crypt called “The Switch” and it was a lame episode at that. But what has Sylvester done? Good old Sylvester has written all the Rambo and Rocky films himself! He also wrote such box office smash hits like Cliffhanger (1993) and The Expendables (2010), and let’s not forget, the man has directed a couple of these films himself as well. I mean, the guy is creative, and he’s still got it as far as I’m concerned. Cobra, the film I’ll be talking about today, was another one of the films that Stallone wrote himself. How was it?

"I hate supermarkets!"

Story for Cobra is all about a gang called ‘The New World Order’ that’s terrorizing the streets of California. Their mission in life? To destroy society as we know it. They hate the way things are, and so their solution is to kill as many people as they can, to cleanse the world and start a new one. They also like shooting the hell out of merchandise displays and produce in supermarkets. But don’t worry; America has a solution for scumbags like these: Lieutenant Marion “The Cobra” Cobretti. His motto? “I don’t deal with psychos, I put them away” His favorite one liner? “You’re the decease and I’m the cure”. When the cops cant handle a certain situation what do they do? They “call the Cobra” of course! The Cobra shows up in his vintage 1950’s Mercury, his cowboy boots, his tight jeans and his sunglasses. Oh and his match! He’s always got to be munching on a match! Currently, The New World Order have their targets set on super hot model Ingrid, played by Brigitte Nielsen. Will Cobra have what it takes to protect her from these psychos?

Stallone’s script for Cobra was based on a novel called ‘Fair Game’ by author Paula Gosling. That’s right ladies and gents; this testosterone filled action fest was based on a book written by a woman! And just so you know, Paula Gosling is a highly respected author of crime novels. I’ve never read ‘Fair Game’, but I’m willing to bet that Stallone took it and changed it into the testosterone overdose that Cobra ended up being, and he did a good job at it as far as I’m concerned. I don’t know how faithful this film was to the novel, but the film itself is pretty damn entertaining. Curiously enough, there’s another film out there that was based on the very same novel called Fair Game (1995) starring William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford. I remember watching that one many years ago, it would be interesting to re-watch it now, knowing that it’s another version of the same novel. I mean yeah, Cobra is dumb, it’s silly at times and unintentionally funny, but the damn thing is explosive and fast paced, what’s not to like? According to critics at the time, apparently a lot. Back in 1986, most critics thought this was a stinker. It was crowned worst everything at the Razzie awards that year. Cobra didn’t win the worst picture award, but that’s only because it was going up against Howard the Duck (1986), which took home the Razzie for worst film of 1986. But you know what? Who the hell cares, I love the non stop action in Cobra! I love the cheesy one liners and it’s over the topness!  

Stallone’s portrayal of Marion Cobretti is hilarious, practically everything he does and says will make you laugh, starting with his tough guy one liners! Cobra is the kind of guy who gets home after work, doesn’t take off his sunglasses or his gloves and starts munching away on a cold left over pizza, cutting it in half with a pair of scissors. See what I mean about hilarious and very entertaining? One of the main influences on this film was obviously Dirty Harry (1971). Hell, the actor who plays Cobretti’s partner is Reni Santoni, the same actor who played Dirty Harry’s sidekick Chico Gonzalez in Dirty Harry (1971). My guess is that Stallone was trying to channel Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, but in the end, Stallone’s Marion Cobretti comes off all goofy and cheesy, not at all the nerves of steal, tough as nails old cop that Clint Eastwood portrayed in his films. Instead, Cobra comes off as the 1980’s MTV video version of Clint Eastwood; a Dirty Harry for the MTV generation. That makes it cool to watch in my book. I guess people in the 80’s were taking this movie way too seriously, now we can just sit back and enjoy it for what it is: a dumb yet fast paced action flick.

 And there’s lots of action alright. Film opens up with a psycho blasting away everything he sees in a supermarket. He loves blowing up supermarket carts and merchandise displays! Anything that reminds him how modern society is gets blown away! Which brings me to the crux of the film; what is it that drives the members of ‘The New World’?  Well, they enjoy getting together to bang their shinny metal axes up in the air and their mission statement is to kill the weak so the strong can survive. Their idea being that modern society can’t get rid of people like them, because all modern society does is breed people like them. Things are wrong, so that’s why they exist. They are simply the symptoms of a sick society. So they go around killing, sending out their anti-society message. Their next target is Ingrid, a super hot model played by non other than Brigitte Nielsen. I guess she represents the epitome of fakeness, one of the things I’m sure they consider to be wrong about society. So Cobra has to spend the rest of the film protecting the model from the killers. Amongst other things, an awesome car chase ensues, and it has got to be one of the coolest chase sequences ever filmed;  one for the books.

 This was another Cannon Films production, and these Cannon guys (producers Golan and Globus) specialized in cheesy/fun action films. Can you say Invasion U.S.A. (1986) anyone? Yup, these guys were on a roll with these kinds of films during the eighties and Cobra is the epitome of that era if you ask me. Funny thing about this movie: it started out as Beverly Hills Cop! Back in 1984, when Paramount Pictures had Stallone signed on to star in Beverly Hills Cop, Stallone wrote a less comedic action extravaganza that Paramount thought was too expensive to produce, so Stallone walked away, with the script that eventually ended up being Cobra. Eddie Murpy went on to portray on of his most iconic roles, and Stallone went and did his action extravaganza, which though panned by critics upon it’s release, went on to be loved by millions. This film still has legs, lovers of action films from the 80’s always bring this one up as one of the good ones, I gotta say, I totally agree.  

Rating: 4 out of 5 

Always a chance for a brewsky in between psychos

CobraFair GameHoward the DuckBeverly Hills Cop (Special Collector's Edition)Dirty Harry



BRENT said...

Funnily enough I watched this on telly several weeks ago! I saw this in 1988 and in its day it was a cool 80's actioner but to be honest I thought it looked rather lame now. I also watched Clint Eastwood's The Dead Pool not long afterwards and it hasn't stood up to the test of time well either.
But you are right for the type of 80's movie it is Cobra ranks as one of the best. Dumb muscle bound fun!!

Kev D. said...

There are a few other Stallone picks from that era that I've tried to get into, but Cobra is the only one that really holds up... until Tango and Cash came around eventually, which will always hold a special place in my heart.

"Rambo was a pussy."

Franco Macabro said...

@BRENT: I hear ya Brent, I saw it again this past weekend, I find it funny how certain movies look sillier as time passes by, weird thing is that in the 80's, I didnt see it that way, back then it was just a cool action flick, which it still is in my book.

Damn, The Dead Pool, I need to re-watch that one. The only thing I remember about it is the remote controlled car that is also a bomb. I will be reviewing it this month for my "revenge" themed month, hope you guys are enjoying the films I've ben reviewing! Expect more action revenge films in the coming days!

@KevD.: Tango and Cash is one of the films I have slated for reviewing, also: LOCK UP which if I remember correctly is one of the best of Stallones films, so terribly underrated! I will be reviewing these films in the coming days, so look forward to that.

Thanks for commenting people!

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

I haven't actually seen this one, you won't be too surprised to learn I'm not upset about that! It just reminded me of another film Stallone made around the time called OVER THE TOP. That was great fun, perhaps the only major feature film about the topic of arm wrestling.

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Shaun, Cobra is actually watchable, if you're ever in the mood for the kind of movie that completely takes you back to the 80's then Cobra is the way to go. Everything from Brigitte Nielsen's hair, to the soundtrack, to the films color palette, the one liners and the neon signs will remind you of the 80's. The film is a time capsule.

Over the Top is one of the few Stallone movies that I can't stomach. I dont know what it is about it, I guess it's the most "kiddie" of all his films. Cobra is definetly the better film! If you had fun with Over the Top, you'll have a blast with Cobra.

Matthew Coniam said...

Yep, top stuff this, one of my favourites. A few silly bits, but a lot of it is really tense I thought, particularly in the first half. Only trouble is a lot of evidence of post-production re-editing, not least in the crazy-short running time.
But definitely one of the key Stallone movies. Have you seen Nighthawks? Another good one.

Franco Macabro said...

@Mathew: Actually I just re-watched Nighthawks over the weekend (and loved it!) and will be posting a review for it later today, so look forward to that review.

Thanks for commenting!


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