Cobra (1986)

cobra poster 1986 movie
3.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 8/10

Over-the-top, so-bad-it-is-good, every 1980s action cliche


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Cobra

Studio:  Warner Bros./The Cannon Group/Golan-Globus Productions

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  May 22, 1986 (Canada)/May 23, 1986 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

cobra sylvester stallone sunglasses match

This looks like a job for…Marion Cobretti

The Night Slasher (Brian Thompson) is stalking the streets of Los Angeles…but Marion “Cobra” Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone) has a different theory.  The Night Slasher isn’t one killer, but a group of killer that attack with a plan.  When Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen) accidentally sees an attack and the face of the Night Slasher, she becomes a target…and the New World will stop at nothing to silence her.  Cobretti must protect her…crime is the disease and Cobra is the cure!

Directed by George P. Cosmatos with a script by Sylvester Stallone, Cobra is an action-adventure movie.  The film is a loose adaptation of Paula Gosling’s 1974 novel A Running Duck which was also published under the title of Fair Game.  The film received poor reviews upon release and Razzie nominations for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Stallone), Worst Actress (Nielsen), Worst Supporting Actor (Thompson), Worst Screenplay, and Worst New Star (Thompson).  The film has become a cult classic since its release.

cobra car chase explosion

This is a well-built car…

I saw Cobra a lot as a kid.  I believe my neighbor had it on VHS and as a result we’d often watch it.  Cobra is the epitome of 1980s movies and while it takes itself dead serious, it is also one of the goofiest and funniest action movies.

The script evolved from when Stallone was cast as the lead on Beverly Hills Cop, and he imagined it as a darker movie.  Cobra is no-nonsense and the film hits every action cliché from the police bosses that don’t understand Cobra’s methods, to the corruption, to bad musical montages, slow-motion action sequences, and a completely over-the-top killer.  A longer running version has been released, but even that can’t take away the laughable nature of the film.

Sylvester Stallone is at his 1980s most.  He doesn’t have the restrictions of Rambo or Rocky and as a result Cobra’s character feels completely unbalanced…he’s a loner, a killer, but he has a heart of gold.  Brigitte Nielsen was married to Stallone at the time of Cobra which didn’t help the on-set atmosphere, and Andrew Robinson feels sidelined (because in the original script he was the leader of the New World).  Art LaFleur and Lee Garlington are a decent supporting cast, but Brian Thompson steals the show as the unhinged Night Slasher who is so over-the-top.

cobra night slasher brian thompson knife

If this is what the New World has to offer, I’ll take the Old World

The movie is all about action, and it is loaded with it.  Stallone is largely credited as helping direct the film, but I don’t know that it is a good thing since the film feels sloppy and poorly edited (it underwent huge cuts to keep an R-Rating instead of receiving an X-Rating).  The film is loaded with exploding cars, bombs, gunfights, and car chases (where the car is clearly falling apart but still looks great after each cut), and this is mixed with a serial killer.  I always liked the New World cult and their banging axes together.

Cobra isn’t good, but it is fun.  The movie is exactly what the poster promises (which is why even the poster is parodied).  There is so much in the movie that is unexplained (like why the New World even wants), and that just adds to the movie’s mystique and ridiculousness.  If you love action, you have to see Cobra…but if you also love comedy that isn’t comedy, the movie is a great example of so-bad-it-is-good.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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