Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Zombie Squad Cinema: Cobra

What happens when you hear that Beverly Hills Cop was originally going to star Sylvester Stallone but he dropped out 2 weeks before filming was to begin and took his ideas and put them into a different script and then you can't sleep one night and need a movie to pop in at 3:00 AM?  Yup, you sit down and put on 1986's Cobra!  Based on the novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling, I have no clue if Stallone's screenplay follows the book.  I kind of doubt it... Basically, a cult, a New Order of psychos is looking to kill the weak and let the strong survive.  One of their young, ambitious leaders is witnessed killing a woman on the street by a super model and she must go into protective custody.  Enter Lieutenant "Cobra" Cobretti, a hard ass legend who works the Zombie Squad squashing murderers, rapists and thieves in a hard charging, shit talking, no rulebook, violent fashion that draws the ire of wussy bureaucrats and hypocritical journalists.

From the film's gravelly yet sneering opening voiceover of Stallone reciting stats on violent crimes and the ensuing grocery store melee where Sly drops kick ass lines like: "I don't deal with psychos, I put'em away" to "You're a lousy shot, I hate lousy shots" to telling the armed assailant to go ahead and blow up the joint because he doesn't shop there to the knife throwing followed by multiple gunshot death, Cobra is just too hardcore for words.  80's hardcore.  Bankrolled by Cannon Films 80's hardcore.  Clad in tight jeans, black Henley, black jacket, black gloves, black boots, shades and a pistol with a Cobra on the white grip, Stallone is equal parts gunslinger, superhero and badass.  Then there's Cobra going home to his bachelor pad and some homie is parked in his spot.  Cobra first pushes the car out of the spot then puts his hand over the thugs mouth to pull a cigarette away and tears his shirt open.  What?!  Yup.  Alpha as fuck.  Then how does he relax?  By watching TV, eating cold pizza and cleaning his gun.  What a man!

So anyway, the New Order and their leader The Night Slasher (Brian Thompson from Terminator, Lionheart and The Van Damme Double Dip) are on the hunt for "dances with robots" model Ingrid (Beverly Hills Cop II's Brigitte Nielsen, then Stallone's wife) who saw him waste some chick on the street.  After a botched assassination attempt at the local hospital, Cobra and partner Sergeant Gonzales (Dirty Harry's Reni Santoni) take Ingrid upstate to a safe house but not before engaging in a huge car chase scene which showcases Cobra's suped up 1950 Mercury and his trusty submachine gun.  Betrayed and tracked down, Cobra has to finish off the New Order army, protect Ingrid and face off with The Night Slasher.  Guess who walks away from that scrap?

Cobra is only 87 minutes long so you'd think it would be go go go, in your face action all the time but honestly there's a surprising amount of quiet moments worked into the film that gives you just enough meat to keep you interested between action scenes.  I was surprised at the build up before set pieces with a great use of eerie music and sweeping vistas of worn down, back road California settings.  Character wise, Cobra is the man, Gonzales is his trusted sidekick, Ingrid is the target/love interest, The Night Slasher is bad and then you have supporting characters like Cobra's supportive superior, his bitch ass superior and a chick who sells him out.  You don't need to know more about them then what you're given and it works perfectly.  While many probably just cast off the flick for it's violence, it's important to note how funny this movie is.  Stallone has always had a dry sense of humor and Cobra showcases it in spades with comments about his partner eating too much sugar and being violent to watching Ingrid drown her fries in ketchup and waking her up because he's putting guns together to naming his character Marion to offset his manliness.  Fight scenes are crisp and pack a wallop with Stallone showing off the best punches and running in cinema (sorry, Tom Cruise) then you throw in car/truck/motorcycle chases, ax fights and some light slasher movie antics and you have the feel good movie of Memorial Day weekend.

While lambasted by critics, Cobra opened to $12 million bucks, which at the time was distributer Warner Brothers' biggest opening ever!  Like he did on Rambo: First Blood, Part II, George P. Cosmatos acts as a capable shooter to Stallone's influential star/producer with a heightened reality, western style confrontations and kinetic action sequences.  It's said that the original cut ran just under 2 hours but after the success of Top Gun, WB and Stallone got nervous and went to cutting the flick down to it's sub-90 minute released form so theaters could play it more times in one day in the same way First Blood helped revolutionize the action film.  While Cobra wouldn't be Stallone's next Franchise after Rocky and Rambo, it's still one enjoyable piece of action cinema.  Especially at 3:00 AM.

You're a disease.  And I'm the cure:

No comments:

Post a Comment