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Friday 28 December 2012

Burl reviews Cobra! (1986)

It’s Burl! Ha ha, yes, it’s me, here to review another Christmas action movie for you, Cobra! Of course Cobra is not usually thought of as a Christmas movie, but indeed, if you look at the set dressing, you’ll notice lots of holiday decorations! Otherwise there’s not much Yuletide spirit in the picture, but it gives a bit of atmosphere, I suppose!
Most of the major action heroes have a scrappy, extra violent little genre picture somewhere in their filmography, it seems! Schwarzenegger has Commando, for instance, and Bruce Willis has Striking Distance, and this one is Stallone’s! It seems to be Sly’s attempt to make his own Dirty Harry movie – it not only tells the tale of a rules-flaunting, rights-trampling cop battling a psychotic killer who scoffs at the laws Stallone is supposed to follow, but features not one but two actors from the Eastwood picture, Andrew Robinson from The Puppet Masters and Reni Santoni from Summer Rental!
Stallone plays – ha ha! – Marion Cobretti, the most iron-nosed cop in old L.A.! He drives a 1950s showpiece and works for the “zombie squad,” which, sadly, turns out not to mean he actually battles zombies! No, he merely goes after crazy criminals, whom he subdues first with a quip (“Go ahead. I don’t shop here” being the best) and then a flick of his zip knife! He’s got the usual ethnic partner (Santoni!), grumpy superior (Robinson!), and taciturn manner, and he does admit at one point that he would prefer to have a tougher-sounding name than Marion – maybe Alice! Ha ha!
The story has Los Angeles plagued by psychomurders, which turn out to be the work of a crazy-club whose membership has meetings where they bang axes together and chant about the strong overcoming the weak! Ha ha, fun! The club is run by the most crazy one of them all, a guy played by Brian Thompson, one of those fellows with a natural bad-guy mug, who can be seen plying his trade in The Terminator and ¡Three Amigos! and films of that nature! There’s a scene in the middle of the movie, in which Thompson is stalking damsel-in-distress Brigitte Nielsen, that plays like a hospital slasher picture, like it suddenly turned into Hospital Massacre or Halloween II or some such!
There are some other familiar faces in the cast, like Nina Axelrod from Roller Boogie and Time Walker, Val Avery from Too Scared to Scream and Art LaFleur, Mittens himself from Zone Troopers! The cast, the lightning-fast pace (at least compared to Die Hard!), a few impressive stunts and the hilariously ham-handed attempts at visual style (random fish-eye lenses, red filters, etc.) are what give the picture its entertainment value! But the script is unbelievably terrible, and the movie is so ga-ga over pop-guns and ammo, and so resentful of the silly rules that prevent cops from blasting away at anyone they suspect might have committed a crime, that it seems more a parody of that kind of cop movie than anything else!
But knowing what I know of Sly Stallone, I’m forced to conclude that it probably isn’t intended as satire! It comes across as imbecilic and crude, and very much a product of the Reagan era! Its shoutouts to Dirty Harry certainly do it no favours! I have to give this hucklebuck of a copshow one and a half oversized hamburgers, and an extra ha for the bad guy’s rib-ticklingly overdone death scene!

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