Around this time last year I featured Chuck Norris’s Invasion U.S.A., a gloriously stupid Cannon film which takes place around Christmas. This year I’m featuring Cobra, another gloriously stupid Cannon film which also takes place around Christmas. I’m not going to lie: I fucking loved this movie growing up. To this day I still think chewing on a match looks kind of cool.
Here’s the story, if you can call it that: a cult of maniacs, whose motivation is not explained well at all, are going around killing people at random. One day Brigitte Nielson’s character, a supermodel, sees the bad guys’ faces and now they’ll stop at nothing to kill her. (It’s important to point out she never actually saw the bad guys committing a crime and thought nothing of the incident until after they targeted her.) Never mind the number of witnesses increases the more they try to kill her—they’re not the brightest, these maniacs. By the end of the film, it’s implied they have to murder an entire town of witnesses because their last ditch effort to take her out involves at least a dozen conspicuous motorcycles.
And I’m not complaining. If you’re a filmmaker and your villains don’t ride motorcycles, what the hell is wrong with you? (Double points if they’re bike-riding ninjas.)
Enter Marion Cobretti (Sylvester Stallone), better known as Cobra, a member of the police department’s so-called Zombie Squad. What’s the Zombie Squad? Since Cobra is pretty much the only member of the squad we ever get to see, I assume it’s a unit of plainclothes police officers who can get away with everything from vehicular homicide to assaulting reporters and other cops. In the cold opening, Cobra manages to deliver the worst one-liner (“Go ahead, I don’t shop here” in response to a maniac’s threat to blow up a store) shortly before delivering one of the best: “You’re a disease and I’m the cure.”
Stallone, who recycled ideas he had when he was attached to Beverly Hills Cop, has written a script which acts as a big fat soapbox for some extreme ideas about how crime should be handled in the United States. I’m sure all of the big action stars at the time shared similar stances, but Stallone’s sincerity as he spouts this naive bullshit is a hilarious good time. Naturally, his script has the hot chick agreeing with him while all the strawman characters (Andrew Robinson in particular) oppose him.
I still enjoy this movie a lot, but it just doesn’t cross the line nearly as gratuitously as Invasion U.S.A. did. Still, Brian Thompson makes a great villain and Brigitte Nielsen is hotter than a firecracker here. It is what it is.