Crime is a disease, Meet the cure!

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By Trevor Slabak

The 80s, what a wonderful period for the testosterone fuelled action movie genre, the good old days when men were real men, they were muscle bound, oiled up and took crap from no one. It was the era of Stallone vs Schwarzenegger, vying for the title of ‘greatest action hero’ – there were others too; Lundgren, Norris, Van Damme, but they weren’t in the same league. As I remember it, back then you were a Stallone fan or a Schwarzenegger fan, never both, and although it would have been great to see them in a movie together that never happened (I don’t count the Expendables).

This leads us to the 1986 movie Cobra directed by George P. Cosmatos and starring Sylvester Stallone, Reni Santoni and Brigitte Nielsen. Stallone is the classic take-no-crap socially dysfunctional, slightly damaged cop; Marion “Cobra” Cobretti. He has the attitude and disrespect to break anyone. In his mind rules are there to be broken, and criminals are disposable and just bad news (a poor man’s Dirty Harry?). His character couldn’t be more of a cliché, but that’s why you love him. You know exactly what to expect and he kicks some serious arse! Cobra features the debut of Stallone’s soon to be wife, the statuesque and ‘enhanced’ Brigitte Nielsen, who became a minor 80s star and sex symbol in her own right.

The story is a simple one, no complexities here, your typical 80s action-fest. There’s not much character development either (not that it’s really required, you’ve seen these characters before a hundred times). Cobretti (Stallone) works in the Los Angeles Police Department’s ‘Zombie Squad’, a special police unit that deals with extremely violent criminals. Basically, Cobretti (Stallone) has to play bodyguard/protector to Ingrid Knudsen (Nielsen) after she is witness to a horrific murder. The murderers come after Ingrid and Cobretti has to protect her from their nasty axe wielding leader the ‘Night Stalker’. Amongst all this mayhem Cobretti and Ingrid manage to ‘get it on’ and form a romantic relationship. There’s a bit of a dust up at the end with good triumphing over evil, then Cobretti and his new love interest ride off together into the sunset on a motorcycle, that’s pretty much it.

The look of the film is quite stylish and has that classic polished 80s feel. The opening sequence in the supermarket is full of perfectly over-the-top cheesy action and dialogue, setting up the type of atmosphere you can expect from the rest of the movie. Cobretti’s so macho he gets around in an all-black 1950s Mercury custom, with shiny chrome hubcaps and the licence plate: AWESOM 50! There’s an amazing scene were Cobra takes a pizza box out of the freezer takes a wedge of pizza and cuts it with scissors! He’s just so damn tough even the pizza doesn’t stand a chance (look for the clip on YouTube, it’s hilarious!).

You probably need to be a fan of stereotypical 80s action movies and their political incorrectness to really enjoy this film. I’m a bit of a sucker for the mindless violence and stylish visuals myself. How can you not love the tag line “Crime is a disease, meet the cure”? So, grab a bucket of popcorn, disengage your brain and enjoy the ride. It’s so bad it’s good!

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