COBRA (1986) Review

Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Brian Thompson

When I was a kid my dad was a huge Stallone fan so I grew up seeing pretty much every Sly film out there from CLIFFHANGER to FIRST BLOOD to ROCKY and so on and so forth. Out of all of them though I gotta say that COBRA has always been a favorite, and since it's been years since I've actually watched it I thought it would be a good idea to see if I still enjoy it as much as I did when I was a kid.

When you get down to it COBRA is not much more than a rehash of the Eastwood classic DIRTY HARRY albeit repainted with a glossy coat of 80s action. Title character Marion 'Cobra' Cobretti (Stallone) is a cop who works on the LA Zombie Squad, doing jobs that no other cop wants to do. He's tough on crime and has earned himself a reputation for shooting first and asking questions later. And then shooting some more.
'The Cobra' is called in to help deal with a suspected serial killer who has murdered 16 people in only a month. But before long he finds himself charged with protecting a sole witness (Nielsen) from an army of psychopaths calling themselves the New World Order and led by the so called Night Slasher (Thompson).
To make things worse this crazed cult has an insider on the police force and are prepared to do anything possible to remove the only witness to their crimes.

Directed by George P. Cosmatos (FIRST BLOOD PART II) from a screenplay written by Stallone himself, it's pretty easy to predict exactly what kind of movie this is going to be even before watching it. The thin plot is simply a jumping point for a lot of senseless violence and over the top action sequences, giving Cobretti the perfect opportunity to spout of some cheesy one-liners. But you know what? Sometimes that's all an action movie needs to be. I fully acknowledge that Stallone will never be the kind of guy to win a slew of awards for his acting (unless you count Razzies as he's certainly won a lot of them including one for Worst Actor of the Century) and I know that he will probably never even master the ability to speak properly but when it comes to portraying badass action heroes (or anti-heroes) he's one of the best. His Cobretti character never received as much attention as John Rambo or Rocky Balboa but dammit I think he should have. COBRA did a fine job establishing him as a cool as ice, laid-back badass with the opening sequence in which Cobretti is called in to deal with an armed man terrorizing a supermarket. When the crim produces a pipe bomb and threatens to blow up the store Cobretti replies with "Go ahead, I don't shop here" - one of the more memorable lines from the movie along with the other "You're a disease - and I'm the cure" right before blowing the guy away. What a badass.

COBRA often borders on parody (hell a few times it crosses the line completely) and it borrows heavily and unashamedly from the DIRTY HARRY movies. A few examples - Reni Santoni plays Cobretti's partner, and he also played Harry's partner in the 1971 film. Both Cobretti and Harry have their own signature weapons (the .44 Magnum for the latter while the formers carries a Colt .45 with custom Cobra grip) Even the intro monologue sequence of COBRA is reminiscent of MAGNUM FORCE.
The movie is also chock full of clichés including the high octane car chase where they seem to track down the bumpiest road imaginable through the the final showdown between Cobretti and the Night Slasher.

So obviously COBRA isn't exactly what you'd call a fantastic movie, but as far as brainless, bullet riddled action goes it's pretty damn entertaining and you could do far, far worse. So I stand by my earlier statement that this is one of my favorite Stallone movies, even if nostalgia plays a big part in that. It is still entertaining as hell to watch Stallone standing in the back of a moving pickup while mowing down an army of motorcycle-riding bad guys with his sub-machinegun. Essential viewing for Sly fans and worthwhile for anybody who enjoys the inimitabe action films of the 80s.

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