Cobra [Collector’s Edition] – Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Cobra
Release Date: 1986
Runtime: 87 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Studio: Scream Factory (Shout! Factory)
Audio Format: DTS-HD MA 5.1 & 2.0
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: 2019 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 01/22/19
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, Brian Thompson, John Herzfeld, Art LaFleur, Marco Rodríguez, Val Avery, David Rasche
“Cobra” was Directed by George P. Cosmatos. Most folks know Cosmatos as the guy who also directed the films “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (1985) that also starred Stallone, and “Tombstone” (1993). The screenplay was written by the film’s star Sylvester Stallone as an adaptation of the novel “Fair Game” (written by Paula Gosling).
The main character here is a special type of police officer who goes by the nickname Cobra (Stallone), short for “Cobretti,” who works on a group called “the zombie squad” in charge of doing tasks no other officers want to (or can) do. Yes, that sounds crazy as much typing it out as it does hearing in the film but hey, what are you going to do? If you’re me: watch the hell out of it.
As we first are introduced to the world our hero lives in we witness a man come into a grocery store and then proceed to unload a shotgun (in an unrealistic manner) into the produce section shouting out crazy nonsense, and then take a group of customers and/or employees hostage with what he says is a bomb. That’s when they [the police] have no choice but to call in the big man himself: Cobra.
Our hero rides up in this car that really grabs your attention. He gets out with his gun openly holstered sporting a wicked cobra decoration on the handle grip, just as you’d expect. This guy is a self-proclaimed badass, and you can tell from his appearance. He also is full of really good and bad one-liners that are sure to make you laugh your absolute ass off. This over the top cop is finding himself fighting against a cult of criminals that show no real motive aside from causing chaos. Yes, there’s a crazy crime cult and they even go so far as to use axes crossed and such in these weird creepy rituals that you witness during the opening of the film. This type of crime is a disease and there’s a cure: Cobra.
There’s a leader to this crime cult, called the “Night Slasher” (Brian Thompson). His female companion and accomplice are named “Nancy Stalk” (Lee Garlington), and the group is comprised of sick individuals who go around with the night slasher and make victims of females at night in a serial killer type manner. They’re pretty sick folks, and their real motivation doesn’t seem to exist, but hey that’s typical of those sorts of criminals.
Some familiar faces that you meet along the way are Cobra’s co-workers on the police force “Gonzales” (Reni Santoni), “Detective Monte” (Andrew Robinson) and “Captain Sears” (Art LaFleur), as well as a model named “Ingrid” (Brigitte Nielsen). The said model ends up needing Cobra’s help and such, as most damsels in distress would when within his proximity.
“Cobra” is one of those over-the-top Stallone action films from the eighties that a lot of us love even though the film in fairness does lack a lot of real character development and even a motive. Still, it’s just one of those popcorn action films people like myself can’t help but want to watch and it always proves to be enjoyable every time.
Movie Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Cobra” in this new Blu-ray is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, as it was shown theatrically. According to IMDb, this was shot on 35MM film using Arriflex 35-III and Panavision Panaflex Gold cameras. Scream Factory has given this a new 2K scan of the original film elements. This is for certain worth noting to Blu-ray fans, as the film has previously been released on the format back in 2011. This features an entirely different video transfer than what was found on that older release.
The first thing you’ll notice here in this transfer is a healthy amount of film grain that has been left intact. The color palette can be pretty bright and vibrant at times, like with the title sequence’s bright blood red. Fleshtones come with a tad bit more of a red hue and seem accurate this time around. The black level isn’t to a point where it feels like a threshold as it did before, however it does achieve a pretty solid black level.
The whites are brighter in some cases, such as with the background on the handle to Cobra’s gun as seen here in a screenshot. That was never that bright before. However, some scenes seem a tad darker than as seen on the original Blu-ray but only because of color timing changes and such. For instance: scenes during nighttime or in the late afternoon come across as dark as they should have finally (as seen here).
The amount of detail here in this new transfer versus the old one is pretty impressive at times, especially in close-ups. Scream Factory has offered up a nice improvement here in terms of video quality on this new Blu-ray. So, if you owned the film on the format before: it’s worth the double-dip to replace your old copy just for that alone. If you’ve never owned this film in HD before: this is the best you’re going to see it look right now. It’s a solid video presentation, with its share of somewhat visually impressive moments for an eighties film.
Video Quality Rating: 4.25 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo. I’ve decided to opt for the 5.1 lossless mix here, as to compare it to the 5.1 found on previous releases. That said, I’ll be focusing on the 5.1 mix here. However, let’s first discuss the audio It’s not new that we get the film in the lossless 5.1 (as found on the original 2011 Blu-ray), but it is the first time we have gotten a lossless 2.0 Stereo mix. That’s cool because looking back the movie actually theatrically was presented in Ultra Stereo (as Eagle Stereo) on the 35MM film prints.
Now, back to 5.1 mix. First off you’ll notice that the opening narration by Stallone (along with dialogue later) being delivered perfectly from the center channel speaker. The film’s ominous original music is mixed nicely into primarily the front left and right channels, with a nice amount of rear channel usage and bass presence (via the subwoofer). The same can be said about sound effects here, as they are well mixed into the 5.1 sound stage with nice amounts of rear channel use and has its share of bass. Gunshots sound realistic and you’ll feel surrounded by the sound (no pun intended) of the police helicopters and sirens very early in the film.
Around 23 minutes in you’ll be treated to a strange montage featuring the song “Angel of the City” performed by Robert Tepper, which sounds really good in the 5.1, primarily coming from the from left and right channel speakers, with just enough rear channel presence and bass to push it over the top. This is the very same case for the song “Feel The Heat (B.O.F. Cobra)” as performed by Jean Beauvoir.
The action really continues to sound very good throughout the film. It’s a beyond solid and at times an impressive surround mix that does the 1987 film the justice it should for carrying action as a genre.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release are presented HD (high definition) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound. They include the following:
- NEW Stalking and Slashing (26:00 – HD) includes interviews with the film’s villain Brian Thompson (The Night Slasher) discussing his career in films, starting with “The Terminator” (1984). He talks about getting cast for that film in a very small part as a punk and then getting cast for a larger role like this. You get to hear about all of the screen tests and such that were done for him approved for the job (supporting role). He does discuss his initial concern about the script and plot to the film and even went as far as to talk to Stallone and the director about the character’s real purpose and motive. Let’s just say that it really went nowhere. He had no clue what the meaning of the film was, yet he still seems to have really enjoyed seeing the film during the theatrical run and likes being remembered as part of the film. He did not get along with the film’s late director. He did, however, get along great with the film’s DP (director of photography) and praises his cinematography seen in the film. This interview proves to be very much worth watching, and very truthfully informative. Thompson seems to have respect for the film itself and most of the people who worked on it.
- NEW Meet the Disease (24:05 – HD) includes an interview with Marco Rodriguez (Supermarket Killer) discussing his role in the film, after first telling us how he landed the gig. He actually first read for the part of the main villain, as perhaps he thinks he had a crazy look. He does seem however happy to have got the job and offers up much praise for Stallone who nicknamed his character the disease (as heard in the film). Rest assured, he discusses his character’s shooting of all the food. I was a big fan of this scene as you can likely tell from screenshots, and now we get to hear his take on it. He also does not seem to have got along well with the film’s late director, but still didn’t totally dislike him. They seemed to get along better after the film was made. Lastly, it’s fun to hear that Quentin Tarantino is actually a fan of this film and Marco’s performance. He says he recently had talked to that director regarding a project, and the first thing he told him was that he remembered him from it specifically as the disease. Yet another must watch the interview here, for any fan of the film.
- NEW Feel the Heat (14:15 – HD) includes an interview with Andrew Robinson (Detective Monte) discussing the film and primarily his role in it. He first discusses the end of the film, ironically. That is the beginning of one great bit of information that Robinson gives us. He admits to at first, not like the film’s script, where he was playing an uptight cop as he describes it. He ended up not at all liking the film from lack of character development but seems to ironically have respect for Stallone. However, he did not like the film’s director. He likes this film only in the sense that it literally helped him buy the house that he still lives in. You can’t blame the guy for doing the job and having an opinion. This is yet another great interview, and a must watch for fans.
- NEW Double Crossed (9:05 – HD) includes an interview with Lee Garlington (Nancy Stalk) who played the female companion to the film’s main villain – The Night Slasher. She discusses working on the film and working with the cast and crew. One thing she talks of is how she knocked Stallone down during a few takes. She knocked Rocky down, not once but twice! This is yet one more informative and entertaining new featurette.
- NEW A Work of Art (8:23 – HD) includes an interview with Art La Fleur (Captain Sears) who played the head of the police force and Cobra’s main boss in the film. He discusses his work before getting this gig and finally working on this particular film. It’s great to see yet another cast member return for an interview like this, and it is informative. Some things said here I won’t repeat, as to not spoil it for you. This, much like all of the other new interviews, is worth giving a watch after the film.
- Vintage Featurette (7:50 – HD) this dates all the way back to the original DVD release and was obviously included on the previous Blu-ray release. You get a typical making-of style featurette, with narration, featuring interviews with cast and crew members and a lot of on-set footage.
- Teaser Trailer (1:20 – HD) is presented correctly in widescreen.
- Theatrical Trailer (1:55 – HD) is also presented correctly in widescreen.
- Stilly Gallery – Photos (4:35 – HD) include still photos from the making of the film (on set) and still photos from the finished version of the film. You can either just watch this as a slideshow (as it will play on its own). You can also hit the chapter next or chapter previous buttons on your remote to navigate through the images, but realize you will have to hit the pause button when you find an image you’d like to stop it.
- Still Gallery – Posters and Lobby Cards (5:19 – HD) as it says comes with still images of the film’s original posters used for promotion during its original theatrical release as well as the lobby cards that were seen in theaters around that time. Just as with the previous gallery, you can either just watch this as a slideshow (as it will play on its own). You can also hit the chapter next or chapter previous buttons on your remote to navigate through the images, but realize you will have to hit the pause button when you find an image you’d like to stop it.
Overall the bonus materials here are pretty solid and come with a lot of new extras, made specifically for this release. Plus all of the original content like the director’s audio Commentary and a vintage featurette. There are even some still galleries included, in HD. It’s a decent set of bonus materials that will leave fans of this film pleased. It is obviously sad we don’t get anything involving the film’s star but I’m sure Stallone is busy these days and/or perhaps doesn’t want to think back on this film. The reason the film’s director isn’t here is that sadly George P. Cosmatos passed away back in 2005. Thankfully, as mentioned, we do get his audio commentary and interviews in the older featurettes.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Cobra” was one of the countless action films that Stallone did in the eighties and still proves to be one of the more memorable of those, despite not having the most in-depth storyline, characters, and such. It makes up for it with brash behavior, shoot first and speak one-liners type of mentality. It’s a blast.
This new “Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray from Scream Factory gives us a new scan of the film with solid and at times impressive video quality, as well as an impressive audio presentation. Finally, in terms of bonus materials, this gets a lot of new content made specifically for this release and all of the original extras ported over from previous DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.25 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.75 (out of 5) for bonus materials