Cobra (1986)

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sylvester Stallone as titular hero "Cobra"

Written by Sylvester Stallone

Directed by George P. Cosmatos

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Brian Thompson and Andrew Robinson

I don’t know if I would give Cobra an A for the way ahead of its time self-aware Meta irony of Stallone’s cheesy and cartoonish story telling, dialogue and characters or if I would give it an F going on the assumption that Stallone in no way intended for the film to be ironic or funny.

Stallone gives plenty of nods to Dirty Harry throughout the film, including casting Andrew Robinson as Cobra’s boss. Andrew Robinson famously played the villain Scorpio- not so loosely based off of the real life Zodiac killer- in the original Dirty Harry. Similarly, the Night Slasher, a serial killer to emerge from a cult, is clearly a loose adaptation of the real life serial killer Richard Ramirez, who is a Satanist and was known to the public as the Night Stalker.

With this in mind, I’m thinking Stallone intended for Cobra to be subtly hilarious with how cliche-riddled the entire thing is. Be it the renegade cop protagonist who drives a car and dresses way too cool to be taken seriously, be it the fact that 90% of his dialogue seems to be a string of one liners, be it the fact that his angry superiors who supposedly hate him still call him in ahead of the entire department for one nut job hostage taker or be it the insane amount of weapons he uses throughout the relatively brief 82 minute (minus credits) run time, or be it the montage sequence of Brigitte Nielsen (Stallone’s then wife) posing at a fashion shoot while Stallone busts heads around town looking for clues, scored to a song that makes the sequence more of a mini-music video than anything narrative, Cobra has to be a straight faced parody of tough guy action movies and 80’s excess.

Between all the of wink wink casting, the ridiculously cheesy dialogue, Brigitte Nielsen’s hilariously awful performance as a blonde bimbo damsel in distress (which may or may not have been intentional- she’s a walking, breathing parody without being self aware) Cobra is a brilliantly cheesy, penultimate tough guy action movie that goes for the gut of the sub-genre with biting observation and self-ridicule.

It is not to be missed- just be aware going in that its not to be taken seriously either. I mean, it can’t be, right?


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