Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, Brian Thompson, Marco Rodríguez
Written by: Paula Gosling (novel), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay)
Directed by: George P. Cosmatos
Original Year of Release: 1986
Distributor: Shout! Factory/ Scream Factory
Nothing really has changed for Sylvester Stallone since Cobra. He is still known for Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. So imagine a time, in 1986, when Sly attempted a third character, the "Beverly Hills Cop". The studio deemed the project too expensive and it was retooled for Eddie Murphey. Stallone took his ideas and created Lt. Marion Cobretti, a cop that lived so far on the edge he was part of what the LA (fictional) Police Department's Zombie Squad (real in Belgium). Someone at Warner Bros. saw a cut of the film (40 minutes longer than what was released theatrically, and said to have been Rated X) and thought, damn, cut this mother down and we'll make our money back with a shorter film and repeat viewings. That brilliant scheme did not work, storywise, and Cobra suffers heavily for it. Sly moved on, (played Rambo three more times and Rocky four) but Marion Cobretti became a late night cable favorite, probably for all the wrong reasons.
Without regret, I loved watching Cobra. It's that perfect nostalgia movie that I wasn't supposed to watch on cable as a kid. It has dumb movie one-liners, Stallone trying to be an everyday man (when he is clearly not), and machismo at its best. When I was a kid I had no idea that the victim/ love interest was actually Mrs. Stallone. To me, she was Drago's wife from Rocky IV, now she's the woman who had a love affair with Flavor Flav on "Flavor of Love". With that, what else do 33 years of perspective bring to a movie that has been brilliantly released in 2K with a collector's edition? A lot, actually.
First and foremost, the opening scene where we get introduced to Cobretti is fantastic. Over the top, but still fantastic. Here it is below without the famous line.
After this, the film really does spiral into a dated piece of cinema. The sad part is our escapism with the supercop film is long gone. We witness events like this (mad gunmen) on a daily basis. This not only kicks us out of the machismo of Cobra and what follows, but it lets all the air out of the room.
For the uninitiated, Cobra tells the story of Lt. Marion Cobretti who is attempting to bring in a serial killer called the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson). The department believes it to be one man, but Cobretti believes it to be an army of killers. After a witness, a model named Ingrid (Brigitte Nielsen), gets a good look at the Night Slasher, Cobretti has to protect her. Pretty standard fare for a supercop film, but when Cobra lost those 40 minutes, it opened its story to numerous plot holes and questions.
One thing that is never explained is the motivation of the Night Slasher. His following is a weird mixture of bikers, businessmen, and one turncoat police officer. He believes that he is going to bring a new order to civilization, where his kind will rule. Okay, so is it that evil for evil's sake? It just seems ridiculous watching businessmen and bikers smack double-bladed axes together in a repeated ritual that is supposed to signify something, but what?
The logic and police methods of Cobra also weigh too heavily in Cobretti's favor for anyone with half of a brain. Cobretti claims that it is several people committing these crimes as the victims and the crime scenes have no pattern. He is told that this cannot be true by his the rival detective (Andrew Robinson) in the department. Yet, all the evidence points to it being an army. We, the audience, also see that actually happening when a gang, led by the Night Slasher, kills a woman. I know that we are supposed to be on Cobretti's side, but the film never backs up the doubt with forensic evidence, which makes the regular cops look plain foolish. Was there something else going on?
Cobretti is also a supercop who has his own computer, at home, in 1986. We witness him look up fingerprints and police sketches via a direct link to the Police Department's database. Perhaps today I could believe this but in 1986? What was his dial-up like? How long did it take to get a download of a file, let alone search through fingerprints? Was Cobretti independently wealthy and looking to give back? It would certainly explain the car and the computer. Plus, for all his supercop knowhow, why is he so stupid as to allow some officer he doesn't know to be assigned to his protection detail? Especially after he and his partner know that someone on the force has been hindering them all the way.
Outside of issues that may or may not stem from 40 minutes of the story being cut, Stallone and his then-wife Brigitte Nielsen have no chemistry together. Add to the mix that Nielsen can portray "scared" and "bitchy", but nothing else and all of her scenes fall flat (see her in Rocky IV, Creed II, and Beverly Hills Cop II for the "bitchy" turned up to eleven). There is also a quick romance that buds between Cobretti and Ingrid, which, outside of their real-life romance, really comes out of nowhere. All this leads to Cobra really being a product of its time.
So where does this leave this fan of the film who would watch it between Big Trouble in Little China and the Predator when Mom and Dad said he could rent whatever he wanted? It's best to turn one's brain off over trying to justify a bad studio executive trying to get their money back (which they did when the film made over $160,000,000 worldwide on a budget of $25,000,000). Besides rolling my eyes at the logic of what the LA Police Department was doing, I found smaller moments highlighting Stallone's acting that I really appreciated in both Creed and Creed II. Trust me, it is in there, and it happens when Stallone lets Cobretti's machismo go and portrays a real person.
- NEW 2K Scan of the original film elements
- NEW Stalking and Slashing – an interview with actor Brian Thompson
- NEW Meet the Disease – an interview with actor Marco Rodriguez
- NEW Feel the Heat – an interview with actor Andrew Robinson
- NEW Double Crossed – an interview with actress Lee Garlington
- NEW A Work of Art – an interview with actor Art LaFleur
- Audio Commentary with director George P. Cosmatos
- Vintage Featurette
- Teaser Trailer
- Theatrical Trailer
- Still Galleries – stills, movie posters and lobby cards