Cobra (1986): Breakdown by RANTBO
Right-wing psycho cop vs. right-protected psycho criminal. Whoever wins—we lose.
[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]
Sylvester Stallone is The Cobra
NAME: Lieutenant Marion ‘The Cobra’ Cobretti, LAPD: Zombie Squad
STYLE: Leather motorcycle boots. American blue jeans, extra tight fit. A sloppy black shirt, covered by a sloppy black coat that was put on with two leather-gloved working-class hands. An unlit matchstick hung from the lip, punctuates a 3-day growth of stubble. And below the greasy uncombed mop of black hair rests a glistening pair of aviator sunglasses.
DRIVES: Custom 1950 Mercury, license plate: AWSOM 50.
WEAPON OF CHOICE: Colt Nation Match with a white pearl handle and a custom inlaid drawing of a cobra snake.
FOOD OF CHOICE: Coors beer and cold pizza, cut with desk scissors.
Cobra is Dirty Harry—on steroids. Yes sir, you can almost smell his unwashed machismo through the screen. Head-to-Toe, Cobra is the essence of male and the personification of Bad-Ass-Mother-Fucker. Stallone tries so hard to be cool, he passes it by and sling-shots right back into the Stallonezone of classic 80s heroism. And even though his character is such a—what’s the word I’m looking for… REPUBLICAN, he still ends up being likable and cheer worthy. Which I view as a testament to Stallone’s natural charisma. And I say natural, as he clearly did everything in his acting power to make Cobretti the coldest, monosyllabic, right-wing, chest-thumping ape the world had ever seen. And to his credit: Mission Accomplished. He’s just lucky I was still able to see through to his inner Rocky. ‘Cuz without that, Cobra’s just another fascist gun-nut with a chip on his shoulder and a douchie pair of sunglasses.
Brian Thompson is The Night Slasher
Before this movie Brian Thompson had just been that fugly guy who ate bugs in Fright Night Part 2 to me. Now he’s that guy who reminds me of Clancy Brown’s Kurgan and who spits a bunch when he talks. It’s a toss up as to which I find creepier. But as far as the character of The Night Slasher goes, the question becomes: Is creepy badass?
I know it can be in select cases, but I’m not so sure with Slasher. On the plus side, with his abnormal sized body/hands/head and freakish grin, Thompson is definitely a convincing psychopath. And he also employs (?) an entire warehouse full of bikers, willing to do his dastardly bidding. Not to mention an equally fucked up and crooked female cop played by creepy Lee Garlington (apparently because Meg Foster was busy hanging out with Dolph). AND he does hold his own in toe-to-toe combat with Stallone… So I guess Slasher is kind of a badass. However, I could use the fact that he preys on women as a strike against him. Though since his main course ends up being Brigitte Nielsen, the point actually ends up working in his favor. She was Red Sonja, after all… So after this careful analysis, I think it’s safe to say that Thompson’s Night Slasher is effectively menacing, but without his kool-aid drinking legion of motorcycle thugs and that creepy bitch, he’s no match for The Cobra. Plus only a 12 year old would be impressed with that knife. Which is kinda funny now that I think about it, ‘cuz the entire movie feels like it’s written by one… Huh.
[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]
DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO:
Brigitte Nielsen: … do you ever get involved?
Cobra: With a woman?—A real woman? A real live woman?
Let’s start with the name, Marion “The Cobra” Cobretti. If that’s not a gay-pornstar’s name… Forget it. It’s a gay pornstar’s name. Then there’s his style, which seems to be a mix of Tom Cruise’s leisure wear from Top Gun and S&M biker-punk wear. The combination of which simply screams, back-alley clubbin’. Plus, instead of pursuing women in his spare time, he cleans his guns. One could argue that he does kiss Brigitte Nielsen, but I don’t consider her a female.
There’s also the underground cult of ax enthusiasts. And I don’t mean the body spray (even though I’m sure the douche-juice was invented under very similar conditions). No I mean grown men who stand around in a dank basement clanking steel-bladed tree cutlery together in unison. That’s just one decorated float away from being full-blown fire-island. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also seem to all have the same tattoo of a jolly-roger on their arms. Insert your own Butt-Pirate joke, here.
EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:
Not much, really. The Night Slasher does stab a woman to death, but he’s not sexually exclusive, as he and his brothers in tattooed arms also kill men. One could argue that The Slasher is obsessed with killing Brigitte Nielsen, but she looks like Fabio’s ugly older brother, gigantic and built like a linebacker. So, like I mentioned before, I see it as a fair fight and thus makes the argument moot.
MURDER BY NUMBERS: [ 53 ]
Click HERE for the Body Count Breakdown
This film breaches epic territory as Cobra himself wipes 39 filthy scum-sucking criminal fucks off the face of the Earth, never again to return to clog up our judicial system. The rest mostly belong to the Ax-Gang gaywads, but Cobra’s partner plugs a couple before he gets taken down. All-in-all, a very satisfying and quite diverse blood bath.
MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING AND/OR DEATH:
Cobra vs. The Night Slasher
The title of this bout alone sounds like a closing match of Wrestlemania, and it’s fitting as the men involved could have given a tag-team of Hogan and Warrior a run for their money with how overtly macho and sweaty their final confrontation ends up being. The two titans of masculinity dux it out like the monsters they are, in a factory that manufactures lava, exchanging blow-for-blow until Cobra eventually tires of the exercise and ends the skirmish — Leatherface-style — by impaling The Slasher’s back on a big fucking hook.
If that wasn’t gruesome enough for you, Cobra’s got you covered. With a little shove, he sends The Slasher on an agonizingly slow ascent into a giant incinerator, and watches with malice as he burns to death screaming. Best Ending Ever.
[THE BEST OF THE REST]
Shopping For Justice
In the opening scene, Cobra is brought in to put an end to The King Market grocery store robbery (read: commie protest of consumerism) and arrest (read: murder) the revolutionary calling for change (read: criminal scum).
After the Disgruntled Shopper claims he isn’t psycho, he’s “a hero of the New World Order”, Cobra shakes his head and replies, “You’re a disease and I’m the cure.” And for punctuation, Cobra throws a concealed knife into the Shopper’s torso, THEN yells “Drop It!” (meaning a bomb and shotgun), gives him about ½ a second to comply then shoots him 6 times in the chest. Six fucking times! Then, like the cowboy he is, Cobra gives his gun a fancy spin and tucks it back to it’s rightful place: Directly above his other penis.
Slasher: Take me in—they’ll say I’m insane. Won’t they… The court is civilized, isn’t it—PIG!
Cobra: But I’m not. This is where the law stops—and I start———suck-ka.
With the election of Ronald Regan as president, a new era of Bad-Ass Cinema began—the best. Civil liberties became a weak minded approach to the war on crime. The social casualties of feminists, liberals and intellectuals hit an all time high. And watching sweaty barrel-chested mongoloids blowing up drug-dealers and terrorists with giant phallic death-machines became the top form of theatrical entertainment—and Cobra was their manifesto.
This film is so much a product of the times, that I wasn’t the least bit shocked to see a framed photograph of Ronnie Ray-Gun hanging in the disheveled office of one Lt. Marion Cobretti. I can only imagine what watching this film back in 1986 must have felt like to a Reaganite. I bet that more than a few had to stick around though the credits just to avoid unwanted attention directed to the giant wet spots on the front of their dockers. It’s fascist pornography at it’s finest, and despite, or rather because of that, I love this movie.
The “story” follows Officer Cobretti while he grumbles, flexes and shoots his way through the case of the ax-murdering anarchists. A monologue away from straight-up being the Italian Terminator, Stallone is stiff, stoic, one-dimensional and extremely driven toward a single objective: instate authoritarianism. So, in a sense, Marion Cobretti is 80s Harry Callahan. A musclebound, more violent, less articulate Harry Callahan, but Callahan, through-and-through.
In fact, the entire film in general is pretty much just a re-make of Dirty Harry. With an almost identical plot and featuring not just one, but two of the actors from the Milius-penned masterpiece, Andrew Robinson and Reni Santori (playing a character of the same profession AND name), it’s not a stretch to assume the similarities were not coincidence. And apparently a lot of action fans take issue with this, which on one hand I understand being a big fan of the original, but on the other hand—Cobra kicks fucking ass, man.
With only an occasional “rest-stop” to bitch about liberals, and to protect (never defile) the sanctity of some female reproductive organs (I chose those words carefully, as this film all but states, that’s all those filthy clam-traps are to be used for), Cobra is a non-stop 80s action tromp through the filthy streets and abandoned factories of upstate California . Complete with a fucked up montage showing them off as Cobra searches for his prey to the awesomely cheesy tune of ‘Angel Of The City’, by Robert Tepper (Rocky IV‘s ‘No Easy Way Out’) .
Speaking of the city-street montage, I can’t help but mention that the shots of Cobretti and his partner scouting for leads is inter-cut with a crazy bizarre photo-shot session with Brigitte Nielsen’s character, Ingrid. Crazy not just because they’re implying that she was pretty enough to be a fashion model (gag), but because her shoot involves her prancing around a bunch of statues of anatomically correct exaggerated robots. Made even MORE stranger is that the fact she’s a model never really factors into the story. Well, other than that she’s uninteresting, goofy sounding and freakishly tall for a woman.
So, having pointed out several times that Nielsen is obviously a man in drag, the connotations of the story make for one twisted tale. For starters, she is under Cobra’s projection because the Night Slasher has become grotesquely infatuated with her. Which, to be fair, his obsession is with stabbing her with his knife, not his dick—something I can understand. The killing part, not the sexual connotations the penetration holds… But the situation becomes stranger (read: nastier) because she becomes the love interest for Cobretti. Which only makes sense after you know that Stallone was dating her in real life. Note, I said makes sense, not excuses her inclusion.
Now, between the inclusion of both Sly’s girlfriend, the far more dreamy, Robert Tepper, and those wacky nonsensical robots (Rocky IV, anyone?) I started to wonder about what other influence Stallone must have had over this project. And I didn’t have to look far, as the ‘Directed by’ credit is for one George P. Cosmatos. Yes, the very same Cosmatos who openly admitted to ghost-directing both Rambo: First Blood Part II and Tombstone. Stallone of course wrote the screenplay, something he’d been doing for his flagship characters for years, but it’s when you put the rest of it together, it becomes so bracingly clear, you gotta wear aviator shades. Visa-vi, I don’t think it takes too wild of an imagination to conclude that the Stallion was really the one steering the Cobramobile. It all makes sense, dosen’t it? THAT’S why Cobra is so god damn awesome.
But now on to the shit that really matters: the action. Even if right-wing fantasy isn’t in your gag-bag, the excessive, violent shoot-outs should be enough to satisfy any action hunger. While the timing of several of the literally explosive stunt shots are clearly off, and unintentionally silly because of it, the fact that they feature REAL men ACTUALLY performing them goes a long way in validating the blunders and absurdness of the over-the-top, yet awesome situations that caused them.
Then of course there’s the cause of said explosions: GUNFIRE. Even the word makes me grin with delight. While the Night Slasher makes good on his name in slashing his victims, Cobra makes good on his by blasting every would-be purse-snatching murdering rapist with his with his custom snake inlay grip arm-canon. And when the number of criminal scum start to out number the amount of bullets capable of being contained with the venomous firearm? Not to worry, there’s always a trusty, full extended-clip machine gun in the near vicinity. Man, I love these movies.
And I haven’t even mentioned the grenades, knives, fire or giant hooks that the Bad-Ass Lieutenant goes on to use over the course of his mission to clean up the streets with the blood of the sinners. In short, Cobra is more packed with ass-splitting action than the crotch of Stallone’s size-too-small wranglers.
And speaking of Stallone’s style choices, I have one final observation: The same year that Cobra was released (1986), another action classic was released named A Better Tomorrow (you may have heard of it…). In the film, Chow Yun-Fat’s character, Mark Gor, wears a light-brown duster, large sunglasses and is often seen with a matchstick hanging from his lip. Yup, just like Cobra.
I have no idea as to who thought of this style first, or if in fact it just happened to be the coincidence of great minds thinking alike, but the look has always been attributed to Chow and I just felt like pointing out, Stallone was right there with it as well.
In closing, Cobra is one of the best films of it’s genre. It’s super violent, super cheesy and more fun than a barrel fulla plastic robot tits. If you dig 80s action and haven’t seen this one, you haven’t dug 80s action. Do yourself a favor and buy the DVD. I’m sure you can find it for like 5 bucks and it’s entertainment value worth at least 4 times that.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“In America—there’s a burglary every 11 seconds—an armed robbery every 65 seconds—a violent crime every 25 seconds—a murder every 24 minutes—and 250 rapes a day.” And if Cobra didn’t have to follow pussy-ass laws and abide by bullshit Miranda rights, this would never happen. Fuckin’ liberals.
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
[TOTAL: 22! outta 25]
Cobra (1986) © Cannon Film Distributors and Warner Home Video / Review © AllOuttaBubbleGum.com and Ty ‘RANTBO’ Hanson