Like Commando, this is a film about a modern-day knight. Ingrid, a statuesque model, is the damsel-in-distress. Cobra becomes her nurturer and protector, although in a somewhat unknightly manner, he does end up becoming sexually involved with her. The scenes preceding their introduction feature some of the most aggressively 80s moments ever captured on film. Ingrid is modeling in sparkly, spangled 80s clothing while a synth-heavy soundtrack plays. Her posing is interrupted by a montage of the gang chanting and committing criminal monstrosities. This montage is vital too, not just from a stylistic standpoint, but because it reveals a very specific vision of L.A. In this blending of imagery the glamour and corruption of the city becomes obvious. Since glamour itself is often false or illusory the suggestion is that the corruption shown represents the real L.A.
|Too much man?|
The final scene in Cobra occurs where seemingly all 80s films have their dramatic conclusion, in a warehouse that is curiously empty, but is, at the same time, active and with working machinery. The Night Stalker and Cobra battle it out, Ingrid cowers in the corner in terror at the display of aggressive and violent manliness. Cobra kills the Night Stalker by hoisting him into the air and depositing him onto a large hook which then carries him away writhing and screaming into the fire of the warehouse?, foundry?. Impalement is used in this film, too, as a necessary method for the destruction of the villain. Once the Night Stalker is gone, Ingrid and Cobra embrace and they ride off on Cobra's motorcycle. Cobra has restored order and a normal, regular masculinity holds sway.
Cobra presents all criminals as hopelessly corrupt and unable to be rehabilitated. Cobra and other police officers must be tough and merciless to defeat all the forces working against them, specifically the law and, as presented in the film, a biased and liberal media. The early image of the photograph of Reagan presiding over the police office is telling. President Reagan was notoriously tough on crime and enacted legislation called the "Comprehensive Crime Control Act" which led to tougher sentencing of criminals. He also appointed conservative judges and created the "War on Drugs." The legislation he created made it tougher for those who broke the law to be paroled. Cobra seemingly attempts to focus on the battle between liberal and conservative values as far as controlling crime is concerned, while clearly supporting a conservative agenda. In this film, the criminals are shown as very aware of their rights under the law, often taunting the cops by asserting that an arrest is meaningless. In a way, Cobra is incredibly contradictory--it can't seem to decide if criminality and liberalism are overtaking the land or if upright and conservative values are dominant. Most likely, it is a film about the process of a conservative clean up of a corrupt world.
Slate.com "No Mercy: Ronald Reagan's Tough Legal Legacy."