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Made hot on the heels of their first collaboration, that being 1985's Rambo: First Blood Part II, Sylvester Stallone and George P. Cosmatos teamed up once again a year later for the Cannon Films production that is 1986's Cobra.
The film starts off with a fantastic opening scene where a shotgun wielding maniac goes on a rampage in a supermarket. A 1950 Mercury with the license plate ‘AWESOM 50' cruises onto the scene and a man dressed in black wearing mirrored shades emerges. He heads into the store, chugs a can of Coors, tosses said can to create a distraction and eliminates the problem… permanently. Crime is the disease, and we've just met the cure: Marion Cobretti (Stallone), the toughest cop around. When he's not cutting pizza with scissors he's taking down bad guys for the L.A.P.D. and causing trouble for Captain Sears (Art La Fleur) and Chief Halliwell (Val Avery).
When a cult of axe-clinking underground dwellers led by ‘The Night Slasher' (Brian Thompson) starts offing people in the city of angels, the cops realize something is up. When a foxy dancer named Ingrid (Brigitte Nielsen) gets involved, her photographer their latest victim, Cobretti winds up making it his mission to bring these punks down for good, with some help from his trusty partner Sergeant Gonzales (Reni Santoni). Will Cobretti's unorthodox and hyper-violent methods get results? Of course! And it all leads up to the inevitable showdown that you knew was coming ten-minutes in this film.
Cobra is a prime example of eighties action movie excess. Think of it as Dirty Harry on steroids and you're not too far off. While it's message of justice being served at the barrel of a gun may not be the most politically correct ideology in this day and age, that diminishes not one iota of the film's completely over the top entertainment value. This one delivers exactly the kind of nonsensical, stylish violence that you'd expect from the people that brought you the American Ninja films and Death Wish 3. It might not be deep, but it sure is fun and Cosmatos keeps the action tight and pretty much non-stop.
As to the cast? Two thumbs up! Brigitte Nielsen plays the damsel in distress rather well. If she and Sly don't set the world on fire with their chemistry, it doesn't matter (they were actually married on the set… though that didn't last), she looks the part and does fine with the material. Reni Santoni basically plays the same character here that he did in Dirty Harry but if he's typecast, at least he's good in the part he's been typecast in. Art La Fleur and Val Avery are both fine as the stereotypical higherups who just can't seem to get a handle on their wild card of a cop while Brian Thompson is awesome as the strong, silent killer with a penchant for odd hardware and flamboyant kills. And then, of course, there's Stallone himself. Oozing greasy machismo from every pore of his body, he roughhouses his way through the movie in his own inimitable way, clearly the king of cool in the minds of twelve year old boys the world over.
As far as big, dumb action movies go, Cobra is tough to beat.
Shout! Factory brings Cobra to Blu-ray framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition on a 50GB disc in a transfer taken from a new 2K scan of ‘the original film elements.' This looks better than the earlier Warner Brothers disc reviewed here. Color reproduction is stronger and there's more noticeable detail in the picture. We get pretty solid depth and texture throughout and good black levels as well. Skin tones look more natural here with the new transfer. The image is free of any noticeable compression artifacts and devoid of noticeable edge enhancement and noise reduction problems. The picture is also very clean, showing no print damage at all but retaining enough natural film grain to please purists. All in all, this is quite a nice effort on Shout! Factory's part.
DTS-HD tracks are provided in 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles offered in English. The 5.1 mix mostly just spreads around the score and occasionally the effects with the dialogue pretty much entirely upfront. There isn't a massive difference between the two tracks, but they both sound just fine, having switched back and forth between the two options during the movie for the purposes of this review. Levels are well balanced and both tracks are clean, free of any hiss or distortion. No complaints.
Shout! Factory offers up a nice selection of new extra features starting with Stalking And Slashing, which is an interview with Brian Thompson. Here, over the span of twenty-six-minutes, he talks about landing his first role in The Terminator and then landing the role in this film. He notes how he was a big fan of Stallone, which led to his excitement about being able to work with him on this project, how nervous he was as someone just starting out in the business to land a part like this, what it was like on set, his thoughts on the film overall and quite a bit more.
Meet The Disease spends twenty-four-minutes with Marco Rodriguez, the actor who played the assailant in the opening supermarket scene. Here he speaks about how he had originally auditioned for the part of The Night Stalker and how a slipup with his agent led to some confusion about landing it or not! From there, he shares some interesting experiences from the time he spent working on Cobra and also offers up some fun stories from a few other projects that he has worked on over the years.
In Feel The Heat we spend fourteen-minutes with Andrew Robinson to hear how he was responsible for the ending of the film being changed once production had already started, as well as his thoughts on the film's story as a whole. He also talks about his thoughts on the character that he played in the film and what he tried to bring to the part as an actor.
Actress Lee Garlington shows up in Double Crossed, speaking for nine-minutes about her role but more primarily about her work on the shoot, what it was like on set and some awkward interactions with the film's leading man specifically.
The last of the new featurettes is A Work Of Art, an interview with actor Art LaFleur that lasts just over eight-minutes. In this segment, LaFleur talks about his excitement about getting the part, working alongside Stallone and how he wound up directing large bits of the film himself, his thoughts on working with Cosmatos and a fair bit more.
Carried over from the older DVD is a commentary track with director George Cosmatos. This is informative and interesting as he basically walks us through the making of the film, talking about working with Stallone and the rest of the cast, sharing some stories about Cannon's involvement and discussing what it was like on set. Also carried over from previous release is an archival making of featurette that features some interview snippets with Stallone as well as some other interesting footage related to the making of the movie.
The disc also includes a trailer, a teaser trailer, a generous selection of stills, posters and lobby cards in still gallery form, menus and chapter selection. This release also comes with some reversible cover sleeve art and, for the first pressing at least, a slipcover. Lots of good stuff here, it's just a shame that the deleted scenes weren't included.
Cobra is pure eighties excess in action movie form. Stallone is at his goofy best and he's surrounded by a more than capable cast of supporting players, while Cosmatos keeps the action and insanity coming at a rapid-fire pace. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release presents this Cannon Films classic in great shape and with a nice array of extras. Highly recommended!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.