The symptoms of the disease may change but the cure always remains the same…
Dialling it all the way back to 1986 and the crime ridden streets with Cobra which still works as a dirty and violent little piece of escapism in spite of the obviously clunky moments that we over looked in our younger days.
Lt. Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) is a one man assault team whose laser mount submachine gun and pearl-handed Colt .45 spit pure crime stopping venom!
Director George P Cosmatos (First Blood Part II) re-teams with Stallone as Cobretti is pit against a merciless serial killer. The trail of bloodshed leads not only to the actual murderer but also to an army of psychos that are hell bent on slashing their way to a “New Order” and killing the one witness who has seen them (Brigitte Nielsen) along the way. This case needs swift vigilante justice and Cobra is a man who delivers it like no other.
There’s a primeval level to Cobra that really was only ever seen in 80s actions films and it peaks right here. It’s hardly a ‘quality’ piece of cinema but as a piece of pure balls out entertainment, pardon my ‘French’ but Cobra is as entertaining as fuck.
Director George P. Cosmatos (who undoubtedly shared directing duties with Stallone, more on that later) crafts a solid and grimy ride as we not only get to see the world through the eyes of Lt. Cobretti but also being reflected back at the audience in his classic 80’s mirrored shades. It’s trying to mimic the Clint Eastwood vengeance motif from the 70’s and it does kind of get transplanted to the 80’s even with some awkward stunt casting of Reni Santori and Andy Robinson who were both in Dirty Harry with Eastwood. Nothing ever plays all that perfectly as the film does lean on the trademark Cannon style of action with Stallone seemingly more concerned about delivering classic one liners and looking like a bad ass while he blows people away. However to be fair, he does look pretty great and the dialogue (which he wrote) while corny is still pretty damn memorable.
Stallone’s screenplay is (very) loosely adapted from the novel ‘Fair Game” by Paula Gosling and to say that it doesn’t exactly put a lot of effort into character development would be a stunning understatement. The film is truly about Stallone on his ‘zombie squad’ existence and setting him in motion in order to take down the bad guys. His character is quite honestly about as one dimensional as it gets, but that’s why we like it so damn much. There’s something special in simplicity as he’s not some tortured soul, he’s just a bad ass who wants to take out bad guys and get the girl in the process.
Stallone often doesn’t get enough credit as a performer as he truly did know exactly the kind of movie that he was making and he leans into it hard. I’m not entirely sure if you can call this a knowingly satirical performance or it was just Stallone understanding how to lean into action movie persona that he had been creating up to this point. All in all it does make for one of his more memorable turns in the 1980’s as his Marion Cobretti is the poster boy for the 80’s action genre; balls out and kicking ass. He also saw how the curve was going as some of his subsequent action turns allowed him to humanize his characters before then went on a rampage of revenge.
The balance of the ensemble really doesn’t have much to do as a young Brian Thompson just had to make scary faces and snarl while Brigitte Nielsen was basically there to keep Stallone happy as this was only her 3rd ever film and would ultimately slide into obscurity after Beverly Hills Cop II which she did right after Cobra. It all rounds out with some decent character actors like Marco Rodriguez, Andy Robinson, Lee Garlington, Art LaFleur and Reni Santori but if they hadn’t been in a single from of the film…we may have actually never noticed.
We’ve got a fresh new 2K scan of the film from the original elements and that does just enough to fresh up the colours and picture quality to a pretty solid level. It won’t blow you away but it’s more than enough to get the job done along with a DTS-HD 5.1. audio track that keeps the bullets cracking around us at a pretty fresh rate.
There are also 5 new behind the scenes interviews:
“Stalking And Slashing” With Actor Brian Thompson: Thompson brought a refreshing amount of candor here as he talks about his experience on set and Cobra being one of his very first high profile screen appearances and adapting to the star power of Hollywood where character development can take a back burner.
“Meet The Disease” With Actor Marco Rodriguez: This was also pretty interesting as he reflects on his history with the film and how this small role as the ‘Supermarket Killer’ actually got him a great deal of work after he wrapped on the film. It’s real world proof that there are no small roles, just small actors.
“Feel The Heat” With Actor Andy Robinson: I’ll admit I laughed out loud when Robinson said that his role in Cobra bought him the house that he still lives in today. Robinson was also had very kind words for his experience and working with Stallone.
“Double Crossed” With Actress Lee Garlington: This one might be my favorite as she admits that she didn’t take this role because she thought the movie as ‘high quality’ but suspected that she could have a lot of fun on set and with the role. It seems she was right and seemingly is enjoying reflecting and looking back on the film.
“A Work Of Art” With Actor Art LaFleur: Is easily the dullest of the interview pieces and doesn’t really add any additional flavour to the film, but it was fine.
There’s also a feature length commentary track from Director George P Cosmatos which I suspect was from the previous release as it feels a little lifeless and dated. There’s also vintage behind the scenes featurettes, Teaser & Theatrical Trailer as well a Gallery of Productions Stills.
While the well versed film critic inside of me knows that Cobra is far from the greatest movie ever made, he also knows that he can’t deny the genuine place in history that this movie has. Not only in the action film genre but in the much beloved oeuvre from Producers Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus and the Cannon Films Group which ultimate makes Cobra; in this new Collector’s Edition from our friends at Scream Factory more than shelf worthy.