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Cobra

(1986)  1/2 R
85 min. Warner Brothers. Directors: George Pan Cosmatos, George P. Cosmatos. Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Andrew Robinson, David Rasche, Roger Aaron Brown.

/content/films/4197/1.jpgThree '80s icons converge at the point that is Cobra to reveal its pop cultural significance. One is star and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone, the poor man's Clint Eastwood doing a warmed-over "Dirty Harry" act. Another is David Rasche, who has a one-sequence role as a sleazy photographer and would take to the airwaves a few months later as the star of single-camera sitcom Sledge Hammer!—Alan Spencer's wicked parody of pictures like Dirty Harry and Cobra. The third is none other than President Ronald Reagan, whose cameo takes the form of a conspicuously looming portrait in the office of grenades-first, ask-questions-later LAPD cop Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti.

But how could I forget the opening credit, one that strikes fear in the hearts of cable viewers everywhere: "A Cannon Group, Inc./Golan-Globus Production." As Golan-Globus pictures go, Cobra actually looks as if a few bucks were spent on it, though that's not saying much (Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were notoriously cheap). Aggressively dark and seedy, Cobra wears its dirt as a badge of pride as Stallone and director George P. Cosmatos go about the business of a lurching plot (adapted by Stallone from Paula Gosling's novel Fair Game), macho banter, and absurd romance. Stallone's perpetually-in-trouble, perpetually-in-demand Cobretti is "the pride of the zombie squad...the bottom line" able to take on the worst of L.A.'s scum. Of late, that would be the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson), the serial-killing leader of a supremacist cult calling themselves the New Order (no, they don't do synth pop—they meet nightly to clink axes together: don't ask).

Cobra's idea of wit is to rip off Dirty Harry even as it recasts that film's serial killer (Andrew Robinson) as this film's Detective Monte. As if they came straight out of the can, Reni Santoni (Seinfeld's Poppie) plays Cobra's loyal, sorta funny partner and Stallone's then-wife Brigitte Nielsen plays Cobra's beautiful witness to protect. Meanwhile, Stallone gives what can only be called an anti-performance, as he wanders the set with delusional self-confidence and coasts on presumed star power (witness the scene in which he picks up an oversized fake burger and attempts to do prop comedy—actually, better not). Dated and unintentionally laughable, Cobra will always be best known for the catchphrase "You're a disease and I'm the cure." Ironically, any audience foolhardy enough to brave this ugly movie is liable to stagger out feeling mighty sick.

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Bluray

Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 8/16/2011

Distributor: Warner Home Video

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In its Blu-ray debut, Cobra looks its age, but also cleans up as well as its ever liable to manage. Aside from a touch of peripheral noise, this is a solid image, accurately recreating the film's theatrical experience in color, film grain, and detail. Depth is pretty much a lost cause, but this picture is all texture, and fans of the film can only bow to the retention of the original picture without digital meddling. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is the image's equivalent, with dated material getting optimal treatment for the hi-def era: the sound occasionally fries out a bit, but generally this is a solid surround presentation—with some punchy sound effects—that's likely to remain definitive.

Somewhat surprisingly, Cobra comes with a fistful of extras, beginning with an audio commentary by director George P. Cosmatos. Cosmatos isn't exactly the most scintillating commentator, but I suppose die-hard fans of Stallone, Cosmatos, and/or Cobra may find this spotty account of the film's making marginally worthwhile. Also included are "Behind the Scenes" (7:50, SD), an EPK featurette with set footage and brief cast and crew interviews about the story and the production, and the "Theatrical Trailer" (1:29, SD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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