Let’s Bleed, Pig!: Cobra

By year’s end, Sylvester Stallone had the key to the city. Over a six-month-period he had starred in two of the Top 3 Grossing Films of 1985. The second Rambo had been especially huge. Sly also wrote it. So naturally, reason stood that he would write the next one. Then they would hire that big, fat Italian mook who shot Rambo II. You know, you team these two goombas up again, you can’t lose! You just lean back in your overstuffed Verona leather executive chair and watch the green pour in.

It didn’t quite pan out that way. Three reasons why:

1) Paramount would release Top Gun the previous weekend. It would be the top-grossing picture of the year.

2) Stallone wasn’t the only writer on Rambo. A talented young fellow named James Cameron had done the first draft. The Terminator had been a sleeper hit, but James was about to blow up in a big way with Aliens. The kid had his finger on the pulse of the public.

3) John Rambo and Rocky Balboa were already known quantities to movie-goers. Marion Cobretti wasn’t.

"See that? That's the last guy who told me Oscar sucked!"

Essentially Dirty Harry re-tailored for the Sly-persona, its respectable, if unspectacular, box office performance was a disappointment to the Warner Bros. suits. It signaled a fallow period for Stallone, who found himself in a bit of a funk until he tied on the red headband again for the abysmal Rambo III.

The film starts out assuredly enough, with a well-staged grocery store scene in which Cobra chugs a Coors before dealing out his throw-knives-first, ask-questions-later-brand of justice. Of course, the liberal pussy media and liberal pussy Detective Monte (Andrew Robinson) are up in his shit about the way he takes care of business - thank God at least Reagan’s in office.

"Bitch, you better have my Snowboard Academy money!"

From there, Marion hops into his impossibly cool, customized-to-Kingdom Come 1950 Mercury Monterey and things get a bit hazy and forgettable. There’s a lot of explosions and car chases and civilian casualties but there’s nothing really iconic here like Rambo reaching into his quiver of explosive arrows. Probably the most memorable bit in the sagging mid-section is Brigitte Nielsen’s bizarro robot modeling shoot (set to Robert Tepper’s “Angel of the City”) - cocaine, anyone?

After much human and automotive carnage, it ends where all action films end: an abandoned (but curiously still-operational) industrial site. This time its a refinery. Director Cosmatos uses the environment well - particularly in the dispensation of fiery death to primary villain, the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson). Then Cobra grabs his lady love and hits the road - right after he hits Detective Monte.

Cobretti doesn't play by the rules: he uses SCISSORS to slice his pizza.

This ain’t bad, it just ain’t top-shelf Stallone (Rocky) or even fun bottom-shelf Stallone (Over The Top). It’s an 80s artifact down to its MTV-editing, synth-heavy soundtrack and hawkish political message. Despite Cobra’s cool box office reception, the source novel would be remade yet again as Fair Game with the white-hot pairing of Cindy Crawford and Billy Baldwin ‘steaming up’ the screen...or was it ‘smearing their own shit’ on the screen? But that’s a subject for another blog entry...


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