Monday, July 26, 2010

'Black Cobra' is unoriginal, save for the cat

Black Cobra (1987)
Starring: Fred Williamson, Eva Grimaldi, Karl Landgren, Vassili Karis, and Maurice Poli
Director: Stelvio Massi
Rating: Five of Ten Stars
Tough-as-nails police detective Robert Malone (Williamson) must protect a beautiful fashion photographer from a gang of psychopaths after she takes a picture of their leader (Landgren) during one of their many murder sprees. But can even Malone succeed against a gang willing to kidnap a police chief's daughter to get get what they want?

"Black Cobra" is, for most of its running-time, a perfectly average low-budget action film mostly ripped off--oh, sorry... inspired--by the early "Dirty Harry" pictures. In fact, the Dirty Harry connection is so strong that the movie looks and feels like it dates from the 1970s (despite the fact it was made in the late 1980s) and Williamson delivers a speech that's a near verbitum copy of the famous "do you feel lucky?" speech from "Dirty Harry". So, if you're not too picky, this film will entertain with its not-terribly-original plot, setting, and characters. (Although, I think Robert Malone is probably the only movie tough guy who is cowed by his pet cat, a touch that I found to be one of the nicest elements of the film and probably the only bit of originality in it.)

On the other hand, the film really goes south in its last 15 or so minutes, so you're well-advised to stop the film after it copies the demise of Scorpio scene from "Dirty Harry", because you see a nonsensical return of a dead villian, one of the worst and completely illogical car chases ever put on film (how DID they get from an upscale restraunt into an abandoned string of warehouses?), and more proof than you'd ever want to see in a wide-release film that the filmmakers really had no idea how to bring things to a satisfactory close.

With so-so acting (Williamson was better even in "Fist of Fear, Touch of Death" than he is here), a script with everything except a tiny kitty-cat begged, borrowed and stolen from other films, and a pathetically executed ending, "Black Cobra" isn't a movie to go out of your way for; it barely rises to the Five Rating I'm giving it. But it's got enough well-handled cliches to be fun, and it would definately be a fine addition to any Bad Movie Night line-up.

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