Cobra (George P. Cosmatos, 1986, USA/Israel)

Cobra, though often maligned, is a quintessential 80s action film. Made at the peak of Sylvester Stallone's career, the film betrays the actor's out-of-control ego. Largely based on Stallone's unrealized original screenplay for the film Beverly Hills CopCobra tells the story of Lt. Marion "Cobra" Cobretti, an LAPD cop who is sent to deal with the worst of LA. A serial killer, or as it turns out, a group of serial killers, clearly inspired by Richard Ramirez (this killer is even called the "Night Slasher"), is on the loose. As it turns out, this killer or group of killers are part of a larger social Darwinist cult looking to bring in a New World Order.

From the film's opening scene, Cobra is drenched in style. George P. Cosmatos is a talented director, and he brings a very artful style to what - on the other hand - could be treated in a pedestrian way. This is evident from the film's opening hostage scene at the supermarket, which is so absurd at times it verges on the surreal. The film is also noteworthy for its extreme violence (it almost received an X rating at the time). While people often complain that popular culture is violent today, it reached its apotheosis surely in the Cannon films of the 1980s.

While Cobra has some cringeworthy bits of dialogue, and Stallone's ego gets in the way, it is easy to see why the film has generated a cult following, including - among others - Nicholas Winding Refn. The film is arguably the peak of Stallone's career as a leading man. Ronald Reagan viewed the film at Camp David in 1986. Cosmatos is surely one of the more interesting and underrated auteurs of the 1980s, and he is responsible for some of the most iconic films of that decade.



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