Sunday, 13 November 2011

Cobra Mission 2

Why did they make Cobra Mission 2 (1989)? The smart aleck response is to ask why they even bothered with the first. But when your sequel contains none of the original actors, and only a wafer thin connection to the previous film you get suspicious.

You suspect that maybe the producers had this limp script about a retired American soldier sent by the US government to a South American country to help overthrow a corrupt dictator. And that they were worried that no-one was going to want to see a film starring the charisma free beefcake Brett Baxter Clark.

Hey, but if we added a lame expository scene at the beginning. One which nodded to that cheapo Vietnam film we made a few years back. Then we could call the thing Cobra Mission 2. That’d sure as hell help with the overseas distribution.

And so, I speculate, Cobra Mission 2 came into being.

I rather enjoyed Cobra Mission. In that film Roger Carson - then played by Christopher Connelly - lead a team of ex-Vietnam buddies back into the country to rescue American POWs. It had some cool scenes and decently staged action sequences. It also had a helicopter explosion which we reviewed.

Here Roger is played by Brett Baxter Clark. He travels incognito to a South American country to help freedom fighters overthrow the dictator. We just have to trust that this is all a good thing. Apparently it’s important that an American is alongside the rebels when they take over. This will show American backing for their coup. But as Roger has gone there undercover who is going to know about his involvement? Oh well…..

The first half of the film is excruciatingly boring. The direction is incredibly slack. We wait an interminable age for people to walk downs paths or trucks to drive down roads. It’s like the director is unaware of the concept of cutting.

The action scenes, when they come, are utterly uninspired. There’s one nice touch when Roger blasts a seemingly empty room to smithereens with a machine gun. For a moment you think it’s another example of the director’s ineptitude. But then a dying man stumbles out of high backed chair his body covered in bullet holes. Aside from this one glimmer of imagination there’s nothing of note.

As bad as the direction and plot is, Cobra Mission 2 could possible have been saved with a better lead actor. Christopher Connelly was great in Cobra Mission. A rugged, gnarly, figure who was engaging and believable. Unfortunately, Brett Baxter Clark is unable to convey anything. He is a blank. A black hole sucking in what little life the film possesses.


I’ve been pretty down on this film. But it does at least have an exploding helicopter in it. And it saves this for the films conclusion. Roger and the rebels hatch a plan to kill the dictator. Roger disguises himself as the dictator’s personal helicopter pilot and flies into his stronghold.

However, his ruse is quickly uncovered by the dictator. But this it turns out was the plan. The rebels launch a sneak attack and Roger is able to evade his guards. The dictator tries to escape the rebel attack by jumping on board the helicopter. Unbeknownst to him Roger has stashed an explosive onboard which he detonates via remote control.

The scene appears to be completely run of the mill. The chopper is only ever going to be incinerated. The fireball is reasonably impressive. But then a totally startling moment.

Emerging, spinning, from the explosion comes a body. We can’t see it any detail and it quickly disappears out of shot. Everything else has been consumed in the explosion. How did this body survive the explosion explosion and fire?

Anyway, the dictator is dead. Viva la revolution.

Artistic merit

A thoroughly routine exploding helicopter until that “what the hell?” moment with the body.

Exploding helicopter innovation

At Exploding Helicopter we live for the unique. Yes, I’ve seen people jump clear of helicopters moments before they’re about to explode (Die Hard 4.0), but I’ve never seen a body emerge intact from within an explosion. What was that guy wearing for underwear? Asbestos?

Do passengers survive?

Possibly. Admittedly, it’s an extremely unlikely chance, but that never before seen ejection of a body from the chopper fireball does leave that question open. Could they survive the explosion? Could they survive the fall. We will it seems never know.

Positives

Exploitation cinema nearly always contains nudity. The rebels suspect that one of their number is a traitor. A female freedom fighter falls under suspicion. In a bid to exonerate her, one of the other rebels rips the front of her blouse off thinking that he’ll reveal torture scars which will prove her commitment to the cause. Unfortunately for her, all there is to see is a very presentable pair of breasts. And sadly for us there isn’t long to enjoy them before she’s shot by the rebels.

Negatives

The direction. It's like Holland. Flat and featureless.

Favourite quote

“There’s half an army on our tail.” Says Roger looking at the solitary truck which is pursuing him and his comrades.

Interesting fact

Director Camillo Teti worked as a production supervisor on Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western classic Once Upon A Time In The West.

2 comments:

  1. Hahaha, I love the asbestos underwear joke! Have you seen a Buster Keaton short called The Paleface? He's about to be burned at the stake by Native Americans, he escapes, finds a cabin with asbestos sheets lying around, makes what the title card calls "Asbestos BVDs", then goes back to the stake, where he survives being burnt and is hailed as their chief.

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  2. I haven't seen any Buster Keaton for over 20 years. When I was a kid they used to be on regularly. Don't remember this one - or really any of them now - as it's too long ago.

    I guess it's a shame that asbestos is considered so dangerous now. I guess the future of improvised fire proof clothing is going to look very different.

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