Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz!
I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Gene Simmons” with a minor in “hand-feeding woodland critters”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week it’s Arnie doing what he does best in Commando!
Delta Force Operative Colonel John Matrix is enjoying retirement until Bennett, an ex-member of Matrix’s team, storms his house with a band of mercenaries and kidnaps his daughter Jenny. The evil South American dictator Arius, who was ousted by Matrix during one of his old missions, now plans to force him to assassinate the current president. Can Matrix save his daughter and exact revenge on Bennett before time runs out?
Released in 1985, three years after Conan the Barbarian and one year after The Terminator, Commando is a classic of testosterone-feuled, tongue-and-cheek, Schwarzenegger action. Costarring Dan Hedaya, of The Usual Suspects fame, as Arius, Vernon Wells, as Bennett, and a young Alyssa Milano as Jenny Matrix, Commando has a fair amount of star power backing up the Governator. Filling the comic sidekick role is Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy, an off-duty flight attendant who is recruited by Matrix to help him locate his daughter. She spends most of the movie accidentally firing rocket launchers backwards and marveling at the rippling, oiled-up Arnold’s feats of strength.
Bodybuilding jokes aside, Commando was originally conceived as a vehicle for Gene Simmons, bassist and singer-songwriter of KISS. Gene passed on the project early so the script was rewritten for Nick Nolte, who played Gordon Tall in A Thin Red Line. The idea was for an Israeli Special Forces agent, who is sick of the continual death and destruction in the Middle East, to leave Israel and immigrate to the United States, where he is then forced out of his self-imposed retirement after the kidnapping of his daughter. This was modified and further adapted when Schwarzenegger finally was cast and some of the original dialogue can be viewed in the deleted scenes of the DVD when Matrix says he regrets his past actions.
With budget of $10 million and a domestic gross of just over $35 million, Commando was a commercial success. How successful, you ask? So successful that a line of action figures was released in 1996 in an attempt to cash in on the success of G.I. Joe toyline that dominated American toy stores from 1982 to 1994. In the Commando toyline Matrix leads an elite Special Forces unit called C-Team, made up of new characters Spex, Blaster, and Chopper, against the forces of F.E.A.R, led by Psycho (who is based on the character of Bennett) and consisting of Lead-Head, Stalker, and Sawbones. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds and yet…deep inside…you know you wish you had a tiny, plastic, gun-toting Arnold Schwarzenegger as a kid.
Commando has a lot of weird trivia involving the casting. Apparently director Mark Lester initially wanted Raul Julia, who played Gomez Adams in the Adams Family Movie and General M. Bison in the Street Fighter Movie, for the role of Arius. Vernon Wells wasn’t the original actor cast to play Bennett. He did audition for the role, but another actor got it. On the first day of filming however, director Mark L. Lester fired the other actor and hired Wells. This is the reason that Bennett’s clothes seem so tight, because Wells was bigger than the original actor, and the production didn’t have time to make a new costume.
A sequel for Commando was written in 1986 based on the book ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’ (1979) by Roderick Thorp, but Schwarzenegger wasn’t interested in reprising his role. The script was later reworked with a new central character and two years later became Die Hard.
Commando has a movie body count of 88 on screen deaths, 6.6 on IMDB and is Certified FRESH on Rotten Tomatoes with a downright solid 69%. But none of that matters! The only thing that matters is that this movie is overflowing with Arnold’s patented grunts, yells, and snappy one-liners. There are over a dozen scenes of just Matrix lifting things that should be hard to lift but aren’t because he’s Arnold F#@!-ing Schwarzenegger! And if you don’t like that you can just enjoy the first 10-minutes of the movie which feature Arnold fishing, swimming, getting ice-cream all over his face, hand-feeding a baby deer. Basically what I’m trying to say is that this movie has something for everyone.
Somewhere, somehow, someone’s going to pay! The Supercult show proudly presents: Commando!