Way back in 1986 Canon Films released one of their true timeless masterpieces of action cinema, Cobra. A young 11-year-old Shawn sat in the theatre and basked in the violent glory of Lieutenant Marion “Cobra” Cobretti blowing away mooks like it was cool (it is) in sleazy 1980s California.
Cobra is about as simple as you get. A sort of 80s update on the Dirty Harry take. Cobra is a cooler more violent Harry. He’s on a special unit in the LAPD called the Zombie Squad which is a version of the old NYPD Stakeout Squad or the LA SIS unit. Both of them basically just executed violent mooks when catching them red-handed.
The story begins with some psycho mook sashaying into a grocery store, blowing a few people away with a shotgun and taking the rest of the shoppers hostage. Cobra is called in to solve the problem. Which, he does with complete finality. Not long after we see more nuts going on a woman-killing spree as Cobra and his partner start investigating.
A model is targeted by the lead crazy mook but manages to get away. Seeing the leader of the cult, she is put into police protection with Cobra and his partner assigned to get her out of the city to protect her.
Little do they know, that a female cop with them is in the cult of killers and tips off the leader to their location. A violent blood and gun and gasoline-filled climax ensues.
Yeah, it really is that simple of a plot. I left out a few little firefights and a car chase but it’s a very tight 89-minute movie full of thrills, shooting, killing, murder axes and a robot photo shoot.
The movie was actually a lot longer in its original cut, and a lot more violent. The original cut was given a rating of X for violence. Stallone cut it up to get the R rating and sliced the time down so it could play more often in a day. The original ultra-violent longer cut seems to be lost to the ages forever sad to say.
My heart aches when I think about how we will never see the original version of this film. If I won the billion-dollar powerball lottery, I would be stupid enough to spend a few million trying to track down that footage and get it restored.
The movie is so much like Dirty Harry that it even has two actors from that film. Cobra’s partner is Reni Santoni, the same actor that was Harry’s partner, and Andrew Robinson, the Zodiac-like bad guy from the same film. Pretty nifty.
Like Harry, Cobra had to have his own iconic side arm of course. Colt Firearms specially made the M1911 used by Stallone. A Colt Gold Cup National match chambered in 9mm for the film. Normally the GCNM is a .45 ACP but for many years reliable blanks in 45 ACP that would operate a semi or fully auto, gun didn’t exist. The grips were custom-made with Cobra head design on them.
A last little factoid about the film that always amuses me is that Stallone was offered the lead in Beverly Hills Cop, and he rewrote the script into what would eventually be Cobra. Good thing too, I like this movie better.
5 out of 5 stars. Made when action movies were still cool.
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Stalone’s “I’m the cure” line is great