The World According to Arnie – Commando (1985)

Commando 1 I have no rational explanation for it. Maybe I simply like subjecting myself to garbage. Let me explain. I rattled through a whole bunch of Arnies early works with relish. They nearly all sucked (‘The Terminator’ being the obvious exception), and when I finally got to the good stuff I did a Keyser Soze (otherwise known as “pulling a Frankie”). But here I am, back with what is easily one of my favourite Arnie flicks, ‘Commando’.

Commando Poster Be warned! I’ve gone apeshit with the pics!

Commando 0 John Matrix (Arnie) is an ex-special forces Army killing machine living a happy life with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano, cute as a button) in a photogenic house in the mountains. But all is not quite as tranquil as it seems, despite all the log carrying, fishing and ruffhousing. Jenny is kidnapped by his old unit, led by a clearly homosexual, mesh vest wearing British bloke named Bennett (Vernon Wells). The kidnapping, under the behest of a ridiculously non-South American dictator (Dan Hedaya), understandably irritates Matrix, and with the help of a plucky stewardess (Rae Dawn Chong), the only way to save Jenny is to punch, kick, stab, shoot and explode as many extras as the filmmakers can reasonably fit into an 85 minute movie.

Commando 3 I’ll get this out of the way. I love this movie. If there ever was a Dumbhouse Hall of Fame (and there should be), I’d nominate ‘Commando’ for top honours. This is what all dumbhouse movies should aspire to. Nearly every line of dialogue is quotable, the action is completely silly and cartoonish, it rattles along at breakneck speed, it’s ceaselessly entertaining (I’ve probably seen it 20 times) and before you know it, Bennett has a steam pipe sticking out of his chest and Arnie’s delivering one of his many hilarious lines.

Commando 7 Clearly, this is a ridiculous film. But it’s made with such good humour (despite the epic death count) that it’s pointless picking out it’s faults (except to have a bit of a laugh). The script, written by Steven de Souza, is a brilliant collection of one liners, and pretty much all the major players get a classic or two. Of course there’s Arnie’s classics, as when he tells a soldier that he has the advantage because he’s “downwind”, or when he’s on the plane, running to the bathroom because he’s “airsick”, even though the plane hasn’t taken off, but there’s also the General being asked “What are you expecting?", and responding "World War III”.

Commando 4 Special mention must go to Rae Dawn Chong who provides many of the films best lines, as when she’s witnessing Arnie and Bill Duke going toe to toe, and exclaiming “I can’t believe this macho bullshit!” and “These guys eat too much red meat!” And when Arnie bludgeons some poor security guard, she quips “Did anybody ever tell you that you have a lot of hostility?” And what’s even better is that for most of her screen time she isn’t just along for the ride. She’s an important part of Arnies success, breaking him out of police custody, courtesy of a handy rocket launcher (“I read the instructions”) and she’s an amateur pilot as well.

Commando 5 Arnie is in terrific form here. He clearly knows this is ridiculous, and as such plays up the comedic elements of the character. He’s virtually indestructible, shrugging off bullet wounds and hand grenades whilst delivering classic one liners. Just look at the scene where he runs down Sully (David Patrick Kelly), and hangs him off the side off a cliff, taunting him with “This is my weak arm”, and “You know when I told you I’d kill you last? I lied!” before dropping him to his doom. But the genius doesn’t end there. When asked “What did you do with Sully?” he replies (in all seriousness) “I let him go.”

Commando 6 It’s interesting to note that a sequel was written by de Souza and Frank Darabont. But due to Arnies disinterest the script was reworked and resulted in the classic we all know and love, ‘Die Hard’. The mind boggles at the thought of Arnie battling terrorists in a high rise. I mean, how could he possibly worm his way through the ventilation ducts? “Come out to LA, we’ll have a few laughs… Uh… Hans? Hans, I’m stuck. Little help here?”

Commando 8 The direction, by Mark L. Lester (Firestarter, Showdown in Little Tokyo), is simultaneously brilliant and inept. Many stunts are obvious and footage is repeated, but he has a genuine comic timing that suits the material to a tee. And the music, by James Horner, adds to the enjoyment. It’s a calypso rhythm that feels both out of place and essential. As you can probably tell, there are many elements of the film that shouldn’t, in theory, work, but do.

Commando 9 If, for some reason, you haven’t seen ‘Commando’, I can’t recommend it enough. I first saw it when I was about 10, when my dad used to rent me all the new Arnie movies. It’s violent, but not gory, and it is made with such good humour that it’s simply a terrifically entertaining way to spend an hour and a half. So grab your beer and pizza and let off some steam.

threeandahalfchangs

 

The World According to Arnie:

Hercules in New York (1970)
half-a-chang  
Stay Hungry (1976)

1-chang

Pumping Iron (1977)

1andahalfchangs

Cactus Jack (1979)

1-chang

Conan The Barbarian (1982)

two and a half changs

Conan The Destroyer (1984)

1andahalfchangs

The Terminator (1984)

4-changs

Red Sonja (1985)

1-chang

Droid

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About Judge Droid

In between refining my procrastination skills I talk a lot of shit about movies and such.

34 responses to “The World According to Arnie – Commando (1985)”

  1. Droid says :

    I seem to use the word ‘classic’ a lot. Is there any better way to describe it? I think not.

  2. LB says :

    O.o Fonts-Miss Milano will be impressed!!!

  3. Tom_Bando says :

    Ha ha this one IS fun. Here are some Other highlights of it I just loved:

    *That yellow car he’s driving around, you know the one that has the really badly dented door etc? He flips it back rightside up, drives away-and the dent is miraculously NOT there!! Amazing! Ahnold does body vork–

    *The skill-saw toss where some guy’s head is cut off. Neat.

    *That guard tower that goes BOOM along w/ about 33 other places-that Ahnold could not Possibly have either had the time to wire or gotten to by himself….oh well. Much fun.

    *You mentioned the styrofoam log. Yes.

  4. Continentalop says :

    I still say you should go back and watch the Long Goodbye.

  5. Hawaiian Organ Donor says :

    This is the movie that Expendables wanted to be.

  6. MORBIUS says :

    I seem to remember that although being shot at
    continuously by automatic weapons fire, pretty much
    the last third of the movie…
    Arnie gets hit only ‘once’ almost at the end,
    aaah…good times!
    Haven’t seen it in a while…could be wrong.

  7. kloipy says :

    fuck man, hilarious

  8. Jarv says :

    Nice- just one thing, and not particularly pertinent, I watched all 3 Conan films recently and Red Sonja is definitely better than the destroyer.

    • Droid says :

      Thats like saying a punch in the nuts is definitely better than a kick in the balls.

      I choose neither.

      • Jarv says :

        Well, yes, but that’s not the point.

      • Droid says :

        By the laws of diminishing returns, Red Sonja is worse. It’s the third uninspired film in the series, it features less Arnie and more dull as dogshit Nielsen. And Destroyer has D’Abo who is easy on the eye and Chamberlain and Jones to entertain me. Sonja has a chubby little asian kid and a fat bloke.

        I stand by my chang ratings.

      • Jarv says :
        1. Metal fish is better than stupidity with Power Ranger villain.
        2. Kid Sidekick gets tortured, annoying douchebag cousins, sisters, whatever, doesn’t.
        3. Bergman is easy on the eye too.
        4. Red Sonja has more boob, and better lines- “You must learn that not all men are evil”
        5. Arnie isn’t drunk in Red Sonja.

        Both are terrible, but RS just edges it, and there are more entertaining continuity errors in RS.

      • Droid says :

        I didn’t find Bergman that attractive in Sonja. Yes is Barbarian, no in Sonja.

        Chubby little asian is annoying for the entire film, redeemed only by that torture scene.

        Drunk Arnie is amusing.

        Sonja doesn’t have any boob, apart from one murky shot from distance.

      • Jarv says :

        Which is one more than Destroyer.

        Drunk Arnie was embarrasing. He didn’t have the skills for that at the time.

        This is comparing turds, though.

      • Droid says :

        Of course it was embarrassing. That’s why its amusing.

        I can live without a murky, squint and you miss it, distance shot of boob if there’s better eye candy and Arnie is the main star.

        But really, we’re debating the merits of films I rated 1 Chang and 1 1/2 Chang. Pointless!

  9. Jarv says :

    Oh and Lester also made the awesomely dumb Class of 1999.Is he the dumbest director ever?

  10. Jarv says :

    As a result of this review appearing, I have reread the others and this:

    This is a significantly wise move on Zeus’ part because he recognises that Hercules is an epic moron and the temptation of smoking hot mortal poon would be too much for his tiny pea brain to handle.

    Was fucking brilliant.

  11. Franklin Thomas Marmoset says :

    Did the council pass a law requiring that I be mentioned in all reviews?

    Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Mentioning me is awesome. I was just wondering.

    Anyway, good review. I’ve always liked Commando. It’s a proper big dumb eighties action film, and I like me some proper big dumb eighties action.

  12. just pillow talk says :

    Subjecting oneself to cinematic garbage is how one earns one’s stripes.

    You must let go of this trepidation of witnessing shit, and embrace it. The laughs to be had will be well worth it.

    And Commando is not cinematic garbage, but art of the highest form.

  13. redfishybluefishy says :

    One of the movies i enjoy (mis)quoting the most. ‘ha, ha, you very funny, that’s why I kill you last’.

  14. ThereWolf says :

    Nice one, Droid.

    I enjoyed Commando well enough at the time but don’t recall much of the action now, only seen it the once. Not a repeater for me – possibly if I was very, very drunk…

    Good use of pictures; ‘Romance’ made me laugh out loud.

  15. Fata says :

    I really shouldn’t like this bone-shatteringly bad movie, but I do. I believe I was around eleven years of age when I first laid eyes upon a heavily censored version version of this movie, lasting about 70 minutes. Thats even more laughable than the movie itself!

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