One of the classic action films of the 1980’s with Stallone delivering a strong performance in this dark toned story-line loaded with all the lovable cliches from the genre during the time-period.
In the 80’s Sylvester Stallone was one of the most popular action stars in the world. In 1985 he released “Rocky IV” and “Rambo: First Blood II” both of which were massive hits. In the summer of 1986 Stallone would take the role of Lieutenant Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti in the action film “Cobra” directed by George P. Cosmatos. The film also starred; Brian Thompson, Brigitte Nielsen, Lee Garlington and Reni Santoni.
When a string of people are murdered during the summer nights in Los Angeles the police are not closer to finding a suspect. After a maniac tries to take people inside a grocery store hostage with handmade bomb and sawed-off shot-gun, the LAPD has no choice but to call in a unique member of the force from the Zombie Squad. A Lieutenant nicknamed the Cobra (Stallone) will take the case and when a witness comes forward with information (Nielsen). Cobra will have to stop a group of maniacs led by the sinister Night Stalker (Thompson) from killing her.
In my opinion there is no greater genre than action films of the 80’s. I have no doubt it’s pure nostalgia but regardless, I love to sit back to the action-films of the decade. “Cobra” was a simple story-line carried by some creative characters. The concept of the Night Stalker was effective, and the role was performed with excellence by Brian Thompson making the character one of the better antagonists in all of the 80’s action romps. Sure the acting was cheesy at times and so was the dialogue, but it was the 80’s and times were different. Even today the delivery of Stallone’s lines are laughable, and excellent all at once.
One of the best things about the action-films of the decade, other than the over-the-top action is the pacing. The films were short, to the point and never tried to linger. “Cobra” is just that, in a short period of time they tell a solid, yet simple story, filled with fighting, gun-play, explosions, car chases and cheesy one-liners.
The darker tone of the film pulled it slightly out of the genre, mixing in some suspense and thrilling moments and it plays out great onscreen. I have heard rumors of the original films cut being over two-hours, and that nearly forty-minutes of story was removed to bring the rating from an X-rating (NC-17 now days) to a more socially acceptable R-rating. Despite the continuity issues that resulted I still loved this film.
While the plot may be predictable and for the most part highly unrealistic in certain aspects, it is still an entertaining film to watch. The entire concept of the antagonist and his followers was a nice twist on a generic script. Their quantity and disregard for the law make them a great enemy in whole, and their leader was the perfect man for the job.
His appearance alone is intimidating and I remember watching this film as a kid and literally being scared to walk around with the lights off at night to not run into the Night Stalker. Stallone was also great in this film, he did most of his own stunts and it helps make a seamless edit to the action-sequences, that didn’t get cut from the final edit.
The cinematography was great in the film and really showcased something that made the action films of the 80’s great. Old fashion stunt-work, something that is now often replaced by CGI these days. The action is fun and the score of the film is a flashback to the decade and add a tension to the fight scenes. The locations of the film are also well chosen, the rural California region gave just enough isolation to raise concern even though you know Stallone will succeed. The contrasting dark (underworld) of Los Angeles also gave the city a haunting feel with perfect location choices.
Overall “Cobra” was a great film with memorable characters. It’s pure 80’s and in my opinion never gets old. The final climax was great with perfect locations, lighting and great camera work. Film has come along way since this generation but it doesn’t mean an old classic like “Cobra” has lost any luster. If you have not seen this film from Sylvester Stallone’s prime, check it out.
Time: 87 min
MPAA Rating: R (For strong violence and some language)