35 years ago it was released in American theaters Cobra, an action film that saw director George P. Cosmatos return to collaborate with Sylvester Stallone afterwards Rambo II; Stallone in addition to interpreting the protagonist is also the author of the screenplay. Los Angeles, Marion Cobretti (Stallone) is a brash police lieutenant, part of a special section dealing with psychopathic criminals. After rescuing customers from a supermarket, held hostage by a member of a sect of criminal maniacs called “the beasts of the night”, he finds himself escorting the model Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen), the only eyewitness to a murder perpetrated. by the leader of the sect who now hunts the woman.
Sylvester Stallone’s Marion Cobretti anticipated the arrival of “abusive” Steven Seagal by a couple of years and over the years the film has earned a well-deserved cult following. Stallone’s quick-mannered, trigger-happy policeman is artfully built starting from the look (black duster and blue mirrored glasses) to his executioner nature that closely resembles some of the protagonists of our own “policemen”. Cobra is the stereotype of the tough and pure policeman, the violent arm of the law in the style of Harry Callaghan able to horrify the most haughty criticism and to capture the viewer in search of dark anti-heroes who operate on the thin line that separates justice from revenge , which become precious raw material for an evocative action imagery that reached its peak in the 1980s.
The story of the film
The film is loosely based on the novel “Easy Target” by Paula Gosling, which was then shot under that title in 1995. However, Stallone’s screenplay stems from the ideas he had during the pre-production of Beverly Hills Cop, whose script the actor has heavily reworked. Stallone wanted to make Beverly Hills Cop a less comedic and more action-oriented film, an idea that the studio rejected as too expensive and so Stallone was replaced by Eddie Murphy. Cobra received negative reviews, but the public liked it so much that it debuted at the top of the US box office, grossing 49 million in the United States for a global total of 160 million.
Sylvester Stallone’s first draft of the script had many differences from later drafts and the final film. For example, the opening shooting took place in a cinema (as opposed to a grocery store) during which many more people are killed. Cobra in the scene mentions how he had a girlfriend who was killed by a psychopath he was trying to capture, another great action sequence that takes place during the night on a boat where Cobra and Ingrid are hiding when attacked by members of the sect known as “the beasts of the night”. Cobra and Gonzalez manage to kill them all, however, and in an alternate ending it is revealed that the real leader of the sect was Detective Monte (Andrew Robinson), and when the latter tries to kill Ingrid he is shot and killed by Cobra. The film was reworked in post-production due to the excessive violence that put censorship on alert. Warner Bros. after viewing a first montage asked Stallone to reduce the level of blood and violence by cutting several scenes. In May of 2019 during the Cannes Film Festival, Stallone discussed the development of a remake of the film that will be curated by Robert Rodriguez. At the moment the project is in a stalemate, apparently the problem is that the studio has not yet decided whether the remake will be a feature film for the big screen or will instead be developed as a television series.
- The film is based on the novel Easy target (A Running Duck / Fair Game) by Paula Gosling, from which a second film was also made, Easy Prey by Andrew Sipes released in 1995 and starring William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford.
- The film was partly built on some ideas that Sylvester Stallone had when he signed on as a lead for the film Beverly Hills Cop – A cop in Beverly Hills, a film that he later abandoned due to budget differences.
- Among the fans of this film is the director Nicolas Winding Refn who is a big fan of Cobra, in fact in his cult film Drive the main character has a toothpick in his mouth in some scenes as a tribute to Stallone’s film.
- Most of the action heroes of the 80s were named John (John Rambo, John Matrix, John McClane, etc). However, in this film the hero is called Marion, which is also the real name of actor John Wayne.
- The line “This is where the law stops and I begin” was inspired by a phrase uttered by Steve McQueen in Boon the looter from 1969,
- While it was considered a disappointment at the box office at the time of its release, especially when compared to the blockbusters Rambo 2 – Revenge (1985) and Rocky IV (1985), Cobra grossed $ 12,653,032 in its opening weekend, recording the most lucrative opening weekend in Warner Bros. history so far. He also made over $ 160 million worldwide, making a substantial profit on his budget of around $ 25 million (including marketing costs).
- At one point during filming, Sylvester Stallone complained to cinematographer Ric Waite and his team about slowness, urging them to speed up the pace. Waite responded by saying that maybe if Stallone “took his hands off Brigitte Nielsen’s ass and showed off less with her bodyguards, maybe they wouldn’t have a problem with time.” Although Stallone was shocked that anyone could address him like that he decided to debunk his ego, but after a couple of weeks he returned to his usual conceited demeanor. In the same interview where he talked about this exchange with the actor, Waite also said that despite his huge ego Stallone had a great sense of humor. Waite also confirmed a rumor that Stallone was actually the film’s actual director, calling credited director George P. Cosmatos a good producer, but a bad director.
- The modified 1950 Mercury driven by Cobretti in the film was a car owned by Sylvester Stallone.
The knife used by the character “Night Beast” (originally “Nightslasher”) was created specifically for the film by the knifemaker Herman Schneider. Sylvester Stallone asked Schneider to create a knife that the public would never forget.
- Some of the cuts made during assembly to avoid a full child ban included: the first murder victim whose hands are severed; an extended autopsy scene, including persistent shots of naked and mutilated bodies; a longer death for Dan, Ingrid’s photographer, including a shot of him sliding on his own blood as he tried to escape; multiple deaths during the finale, including a person hit in the face with an ax.
- The original rough edit was over 2 hours long, which was considered excessive and was reduced to 84 minutes so that the number of daily screenings could be increased. Much of the plot has been removed or shortened, while most of the violence and nearly every death has been depicted out of frame, resulting in numerous continuity errors.
- There were plans to make a sequel, but nothing came of it.
- Brian Thompson auditioned for his role seven times before he was hired. In his fourth audition he met Sylvester Stallone and both he and the director thought Thompson was too handsome to play the role of “Beast of the Night.” Thompson after getting the part repeatedly asked Stallone about the character, how Stallone would have wanted Thompson to play him and the background of the character (the reasons behind his heinous actions), but Stallone was not interested in explaining the character to Thompson. .
- No members of the cast or support crew were allowed to speak to Sylvester Stallone during filming.
- Much of David Rasche’s role was cut from the final version.
- In the original Night Beast / Nightslasher script he was called Abaddon.
- For the “Beast of the Night” monologue in the final confrontation with Cobra, Brian Thompson rehearsed the scene with the scripting secretary because Sylvester Stallone was busy watching a basketball game on TV.
- The machine gun used by Marion Cobretti in the final showdown with the motorcycle gang is a “Jati-Matic” equipped with a laser pointing device.
- The body count of the film is 52 kills, 41 at the hands of Cobra.
- The original music for the film is by Hungarian composer Sylvester Levay (Navy Seals – Paid to Die, Stone Cold, Hot Shots!).
- Sylvester Levay also composed the song “Skyline” for Cobra, not used in the film but included in the soundtrack album and later used in the videogame inspired by the film made for the Commodore 64. The song “Skyline” is not heard by anyone part in the film because the scenes where this track was used were cut from the film during editing. Originally there was a scene in which Cobretti is sitting in his house and watching a sunset, when he receives a phone call to go to a crime scene and it is in this scene that the track “Skyline” could be heard. The song “Skyline” was originally also used in a few other scenes, including the ending, but for some reason it was removed and replaced with John Cafferty’s “Voice Of America Sons”.
- Stan Bush’s song “The Touch” used on the Transformers: The Movie (1986) soundtrack was originally written for this film.