There's a vogue in Hollywood for admiring Sylvester Stallone, which generally expresses itself in such wondrously duplicitous phrases as "he really knows his audience," "he understands his own appeal" or, in strongest form, "he really knows how to make those kind of movies."
In fact, since "Rocky," Stallone has demonstrated that, if it weren't for the cult of personality that has somehow grown up around him, he'd be lucky to get jobs writing for "T.J. Hooker." If this guy tripped over a print of "Citizen Kane," he not only wouldn't know what it was, he'd hit somebody over the head with it.
"Cobra," which Stallone wrote (his paw is evident in the directing style as well, although George Cosmatos is credited), features him as a cop named Marion Cobretti, nicknamed for the snake, although there's no doubt that it's simply His Stalloneness in a thin guise.
The movie is such a textbook example of an exploitation cop movie that you can outline it like a schoolboy for easy reference:
1. Good Man, Bad System. These are the scenes, lifted almost directly from "Dirty Harry," in which Cobra hollers at the namby-pambies who run the police department by the book while a crazed killing cult is on the loose.
2. Bimbo as Prey. Through a ridiculous happenstance, a fashion model (fashion model Brigitte Nielsen) witnesses a killing, and becomes the next target of the killers. So Sly gallantly comes to her defense, which leads to . . .
3. It's Stallonely at the Top. Poor Cobra, he's so busy catching psychos, no woman will put up with him. Now one will. (Since Nielsen is Sly's wife, fans will recognize this trope as self-referential.)
4. Fight in Warehouse. This scene has become de rigueur in contemporary thrillers. Sly kills the killers, impales the last killer on a giant hook and sends him into a blast furnace. Now it's Miller Time.
Like "Rocky IV," "Cobra" is larded with close-ups of Stallone and more close-ups still of various weapons while they metallically chunk, clink and clatter into place on the sound track.
That sound track is so poorly mixed that between the music and the sound effects, you can't make out what Stallone is saying. This is a blessing. If you don't believe me, consider these samples of Stallone banter:
To his partner: "You know what your problem is? You're too violent." This guy, ho ho, goes around shooting people people to bits, ha ha, and then he has the nerve to tell his partner he's too violent!!!!
To his girl: "I always wanted a tougher name myself." "Like what?" "Alice." Get it? Alice isn't a tough name at all!!!!
To a crook: "You're a disease, and I'm the cure."
Other diseases, however, would appear to be incurable. Cobra, at area theaters, is rated R and contains graphic violence.