Film / Cobra

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"Crime is a disease. Meet the cure."
Original movie tagline

Cobra is a 1986 action film starring Sylvester Stallone, produced by Warner Bros. in association with The Cannon Group.

Stallone stars as police Lieutenant Marion "Cobra" Cobretti, an intense, no-nonsense LA cop from the "Zombie Squad", who has to deal with a string of murders by a man known to police only as the Night Slasher (Brian Thompson), while also dealing with various murderous nuts spouting nonsense about a "New Order". As it turns out, the Night Slasher is actually the leader of this "New Order" cult. Model Ingrid Knudsen (Brigitte Nielsen) drives past one of their murders and sees the Night Slasher's face, making her the gang's prime target. She enters police custody for her own protection, under the watchful eye of Lt. Cobretti and his partner, the junk food-loving Sgt. Gonzales (Reni Santoni). Eventually, Cobra will have to use Ingrid as bait to draw out the Night Slasher and put an end to his menace once and for all.

Based (very loosely) on Paula Gosling's novel Fair Game, which nine years later would get another adaptation under that title starring William Baldwin and Cindy Crawford (sadly not in Stallone's role). All three versions bear very little resemblance to each other.

Not to be confused with the main character of the anime/manga Space Adventure Cobra. Or that other Cobra.


Cobra provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Cobretti. He hates discipline and he doesn't give a damn about any citizen's rights (well, obviously not seeing the "citizens" are a gang of psycho killers).
  • An Axe to Grind: Members of the New Order are shown clanging axes together in unison early in the film.
  • Ax-Crazy: The New Order, particularly the Night Slasher.
  • Asshole Victim: Ingrid's boss sexually harasses her, only to get killed by members of the New Order cult.
  • Award Bait Song: While not played in the end credits, the movie has two: Loving On Borrowed Time by Gladys Knight & Bill Medley; and Two Into One by Bill Medley & Carmen Twillie.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Zig-zagged. While Cobra's first name isn't that awesome his last name, Cobretti, counts as this.
  • Badass Longcoat: Cobretti wears one.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: Happens by accident when the Night Slasher fires his shotgun at Cobretti and hits Nancy Stalk, his police accomplice, who's just jumped on Cobretti.
  • Car Chase: Plenty to go around!
  • Car Fu: A security guard gets crushed by the cult's van.
  • Cool Car: Cobretti's customized 1950 Mercury, complete with nitro boosters. Bonus points for being Sly's real-life car, though stunt-doubles were used in the chases.
  • Cool Gun: Cobretti's Jatimatic submachine gun. A Rare Gun now, as only a few hundred of them were made. Same for his 1911 9mm conversion.
  • Cool Shades: Again, Cobretti delivers this for the trifecta.
  • Cowboy Cop: Cobra. Apparently the Zombie Squad is an entire crew of Cowboy Cops, though we only ever see Cobretti and Gonzales.
  • Cult: The "New Order".
  • Detective Mole: One of the police officers protecting Ingrid is a member of the New Order.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: Numerous background hints indicate the movie takes place deep in December.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In order to silence one witness who saw them, the Night Slasher's New Order goes on a week-long explosive rampage in two cities, in broad daylight and in full view of hundreds of new witnesses. Of course, it doesn't really matter in the end, since Cobra happens to be one of those witnesses.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: The thug in the grocery store really likes racking the slide on his shotgun.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: The Night Slasher wants to create a nihilistic dog-eat-dog world with his homicidal cult where sadistic murderers kill off the weak and people are indiscriminately hacked up and gunned down on the streets on a daily basis.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Lt. Cobretti's first name is Marion. He jokes about it, too, and admits he would have preferred to grow up with something tougher-sounding... like "Alice".
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: All kinds of people are in New Order, from common street thugs to balding businessmen. They seem to welcome all races and possibly nationalities, too.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: There are two kinds of women in Cobra: intended targets of the Night Slasher's Order, and its treacherous accomplices. Guess which ones are attractive.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Night Slasher.
  • Eye Scream: The Night Slasher wants to do this to Cobretti during their final showdown.
    Night Slasher: I want your eyes, pig! I want 'em!
  • Expy: The Night Slasher's New Order is a murderous comune of psycho killers of varied social and cultural backgrounds who kill to bring forth "a new world". It sounds familiar.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: While the Night Slasher reveals himself to be The Social Darwinist near the end, we never learn why his New Order is motivated to do so much for a serial killer. They might as well exist just to be an army of psychotic mooks for the hero to kill to get to the bad guy.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Ax-Crazy cult is after Ingrid's blood because she's the only one who knows what the Night Slasher looks like.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Cobretti drives a custom 1950 Mercury.
  • Hypocritical Humor: During the car chase, the guy driving the Night Slasher's car says of Cobretti: "He's crazy, he's crazy!" This coming from someone working for a serial killer.
  • IKEA Weaponry: As the cult members are shown moving towards the town where he's protecting a witness, Sylvester Stallone assembles his Laser Sight-equipped Jati submachine gun, which he carries stripped down in a suitcase.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The Steel Mill fight ends with The Night Slasher impaled on an industrial hook, and being set on fire.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Director Cosmatos had the Night Slasher's bizarre knife custom-made, his only reasoning being that he wanted "a knife the audience would never forget". He certainly got his wish, to such an extent that actual working replicas of the knife are now being made. Never mind the fact that the only realistic way of carrying and pulling out a knife with a giant, almost-double blade and a handle full of sharp spikes without tearing one's clothes to shreds every time would be to velcro it to the outside of the garments.
  • Internal Affairs: Detective Monte, who's always on Cobretti's case for his Cowboy Cop behavior.
  • Kick the Dog: Lampshaded by Cobra.
    Cobra: You wasted a kid, for nothing. Now I think it's time to waste you.
  • Kill and Replace: The Night Slasher murders a janitor at the hospital and takes his place.
  • Kill It with Fire: Cobra ruthlessly dispatches a villain by pouring gasoline on him and lighting it on fire with a match.
  • Knife Nut: The Night Slasher. Even in his dying moments he still clutched on to his spike-knuckled trench knife. He also uses a double-barreled Sawn Off Shotgun.
  • Laser Sight: While in a factory, Cobretti uses the sight to distract some mooks by detaching it and leaving it switched on in a dark room. While the mooks are sneaking up on where they think Cobretti is, he jumps them from behind.
    • Cobra's laser sight is an actual laser sight; when he assembles his Jaki and tests it, it's a proper tiny red dot, instead of a long visible beam. Still a rarity in action movies.
  • The Mole: Officer Nancy Stalk, a cop who is secretly the Night Slasher's Dragon
  • More Dakka: Okay, cops have been known to use submachine guns, but hand grenades?
  • Montage: "Angel of the City", which is a "Shake-down-punks-for-information-while-a-Knife Nut-killer-stalks-a-model-doing-a-photoshoot montage"
  • Nitro Boost: Cobretti's car has one.
  • Nothing Good Ever Happens In A Parking Garage: The first attack on Knudsen by the cult.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Night Slasher.
  • Opening Monologue / Sylvester Stallone Is About To Shoot You
    In America, there's a burglary every 11 seconds, an armed robbery every 65 seconds, a violent crime every 25 seconds, a murder every 24 minutes and 250 rapes a day.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Cobretti practices this with his handgun, most notably after blowing away the supermarket killer so we can see the cobra painted on its grip.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    Mook: I'm a hero of the new world!
    Cobra: You're a disease... and I'm the cure.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Cobra: You have the right to remain silent. [lights a villain on fire]
  • Product Placement: There is plenty of Pepsi to be seen.
    • And everything else owned by Pepsi. There are cases full of Diet Pepsi, Pepsi Free... Five minutes in, Cobra relaxes next to a huge stack of fresh 7-Up. In fact, he likes Pepsi so much that he has a giant Pepsi neon on a wall outside of his (really spacious and expensive-looking) home.
    • In one scene with Gonzales takes a long swig of a can with his hands placed in a way so you can clearly see he's enjoying the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola Classic.
    • There are also more subtle ones, such as Cobra taking a drink of Coors beer.
    • Ford also gets a lot of placement with the pick-up trucks all having FORD printed on the back and they also make tractors apparently.
    • A Coincidental Broadcast gets a full-length commercial prelude courtesy of Toys-R-Us.
  • Protagonist Title: "Cobra" is the main character's nickname.
  • Railing Kill: One of the mooks at Cobra's apartment gets shot and falls over a staircase railing.
  • The Quiet One / Silent Antagonist: The Night Slasher barely says a word during most of the movie. Practically the only time he talks is during his final fight with Cobra.
  • Shout-Out: Cobra has a partner named Gonzales who is played by Reni Santoni.
  • The Social Darwinist: The Night Slasher claims he murders people because he wants to kill off the weak, reasoning that this means everyone who can't fight off one of his attacks. This apparently includes children.
  • Straw Nihilist: Some of the Night Slasher's followers.
  • Strawman News Media: The whiny, liberal reporters who hassle Cobra after he guns down a criminal during a standoff. None of the journalists seem to care that said criminal had taken hostages and was threatening to kill them all.
  • Terrorists Without a Cause: The New Order movement is based entirely around murder and torture for its own sake (with some social darwinistic rhetoric thrown in), yet seems to attract a surprisingly large member base.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Sgt. Gonzales loves his junk food.
  • Vanity License Plate: Cobretti's Cool Car, which sports the license plate "AWSOM 50".
  • We Are Everywhere: The Night Slasher's speech at the end follows this trope to the letter, but it's more of a crazed final rant than an accurate estimate of his actual following.
  • You're Insane!: One of the crazed psycho killers exclaims, "He's crazy!" regarding Cobra during the car chase.


Alternative Title(s): Fair Game

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Cobra