Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Favorite Era: Commando (1985)

In 1985, while riding high on the success of The Terminator, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger gifted us the comic book action classic Commando.  The stirring story of a father trying to rescue his kidnapped daughter, it's one of the most gloriously over the top action films of the 80's.

I did a longer piece on this film for The Agony Booth a few years ago so consider this a Cliff Notes version of that article.
  • Gotta love the opening credits sequence which follows two brutal murders and an explosion.  Does it get any more surreal than Arnold Schwarzenegger feeding a deer with Alyssa Milano?  The kick ass score by James Horner only adds to the humor of the sequence.  If nothing else, it beats the hell out of the drawn out crap Chuck Norris films usually make us sit through.
  • I like how the movie wastes no time at all in getting the plot in gear.  Within the first thirteen minutes or so, Alyssa Milano has been kidnapped and Arnold has already killed at least three guys.  Say what you will about Joel Silver but his movies from this era don't waste time!
  • The rogues gallery of villains on display here is simply spectacular, a who's who of Joel Silver/80's regulars.  Vernon (The Road Warrior) Wells is great as Bennett, the Freddie Mercury-lookalike with a chain mail vest who harbors a personal grudge against Arnie.  You never buy him for a moment as a legit threat but he;s so hilarious it just doesn't matter.
  • Lending good support are Silver regulars Bill Duke and David Patrick Kelly as a huge Green Beret and weaselly sleazeball respectively and Dan Hedaya is fun as a Central American dictator who has orchestrated the kidnapping in order to get our hulking hero to perform an assassination.
  • I also like Rae Dawn Chong as the plucky comic relief who tags along.  She's actually funny, cute and quite likable.
  • Speaking of funny, pretty much every line of dialogue Arnold has here is just that.  I think this might have the most one-liners of any of his films.  Actually, just about every move he makes is sort of funny: ripping a phone booth out of the ground, effortlessly sneaking up on bad guys, this movie is frigging awesome.
  • The action is pretty standard to be honest but what it lacks in ingenuity, it more than  makes up for in carnage.  The body count here is simply staggering!  Making it even more impressive is that most of it happens in the last twenty minutes when Arnold storms the mansion his daughter is being held in.
  • There are just to many classic moments to list them all, though Arnold killing David Patrick Kelly by dropping him off a cliff is great, as is his showdown with Bennett at the end.  Not often you see a guy impaled with a gigantic piece of pipe.
  • The power ballad playing at the end is just cheesily awesome.
Commando may not be Arnold Schwarzenegger's best movie.  The first two Terminator films have some weighty sci-fi issues to consider, Total Recall is better written and Predator has a great villain but this one is just plain fun. It's brisk, funny and violent and still holds up today.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.