- Directed by George P. Cosmatos
- May 23, 1986
There is a new type of criminal on the rise and only Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti can stop them.
Cobra is extremely loosely based on the novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling (which was also made into a film of the same name later). Cobra is quite possibly the one of the most if not the most 80s cop movie of the time. It uses just about every genre trope other than the elderly cop that dies tragically a few days from retirement. It is gun and explosion driven and ridiculously over-the-top and just so awesome to watch! It is the junkiest of junk food cinematic classics.
Sylvester Stallone is super cop Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti, member of the LAPD elite division known as the “Zombie Squad” (zombie cops sounds like a great movie), who goes around blowing stuff up and spraying bullets like crazy at the bad guys and doing very little actual police work despite being a cop. Miranda Rights? What are those? Arrest criminals? But why?
Cobretti drives a custom 1950 Mercury (owned by Stallone in real life) and appears to have a crime lab all his own in his apartment as did many movie cops in the trashier films of the time. Doing great on a cop’s salary. Despite being the most cop of 80s cop films, Cobretti does not have an ex-wife though. Apparently, the cop days away from retirement was not the only cliché they missed.
Cobretti more or less stumbles into the case of a serial killer cult, “The New World,” that when he enters the picture their murders are believed to be the work of one person and now must protect model and businesswoman Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen) who witnessed very little but is the next target of this group of murderers who appear to be from all walks of life-including the police department. What a coinky dink!
Cobra is just a slice of illogical 80s action cop fun. This is far from being realistic and is as much escapist fantasy as it is anything else. Sylvester Stallone is at his most Sylvester Stallone in this movie. He is all bulging muscles and tight clothing and is the most masculine thing at any point on the screen. Cobretti’s abundant testosterone immediately draws in Ingrid who as a witness has very little to offer.
Brian Thompson plays the apparent head of this serial killer cult that seems to want to purge the weak from society. How this will be accomplished by randomly killing people I do not know but this movie has very little logic in it so don’t ask such questions. You may remember Thompson from the original Terminator film as well as appearances in The X-Files as an alien bounty hunter and multiple appearances in various Star Trek shows. On the latter I think he appeared in just about every one of the spinoffs up to and including Enterprise.
Thompson has a unique look and is not a bad actor in general. What he may be in may not be good, but he is generally good in it. Here as the character only known as The Night Slasher he is all wild eyed insanity that delivers a Bond villain level monologue in the finale.
Reni Santoni appears as Sergeant Tony Gonzales and Andrew ‘Garak’ Robinson shows up as Detective Monte which makes this movie a Dirty Harry reunion. Character actor Art LaFleur is Captain Sears. David Rasche who is best known for Sledge Hammer! is Ingrid’s sexually harassing photographer Dan. Being the 80s, his creepy advances were treated comedically. Guys being guys. No need for a rape whistle or mace.
The investigative side if this story is not sold by any level of actual police work or tepid investigation. The villainous cult just keeps sending cannon fodder after Cobretti and getting a gang to kill this witness who if the insider was doing their job would know knows very little and if they had any brains would know it would be smarter to do nothing and hide their leader rather than send wave after wave of people.
But logic need not apply here. This is a movie where you need to leave your brain at the door. It is a dumb movie and dumb movies are meant to be enjoyed and not overly thought. Enjoy the ridiculousness. Have fun.
The 80s were a special time in the action film genre. The muscles were bigger, and the heroes were practically superhuman. It is a time that will never come again which is sad because this is an example of the kind of stupid fun that could be produced back then and stupid fun is sorely missing in movies these days. There is too much ego and people creating obviously shallow films think they are on the verge of making fine art. Cosmatos (though there is a story he did not actually direct) knew what this was and did not pretend otherwise.
Cobra was never viewed as quality cinema. It was nominated for several Razzies such as Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone), Worst Actress (Brigitte Nielsen), Worst Supporting Actor and Worst New Star (both for Brian Thompson) and Worst Screenplay. Justifiably so but Thompson I believe elevated his material. Still though despite its low quality it is just a fun and enjoyable movie. It has a certain magic that makes you want to keep watching. It is an enjoyable mess.
Stallone was originally to star in Beverly Hills Cop (HUH?!) and rewrote THAT script to be more action oriented and significantly less comedic. When his changes were rejected by the studio because the added action ballooned the cost, he took those ideas and placed them into this movie which initially had an X rating because of violence.
Cobra is in no way a deep or sophisticated film. It has no themes or message to convey. It is just dumb fun and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s from a bygone era that if you lived through it I say watch it. Even if you did not, it is worth a watch because it is so very entertaining.