A fun filled action movie that really seems to be having a great time.
Arnold really should have been a part of this release not just used in archival footage.
Commando is the story of a man named John Matrix. He is so good at his job as a special-ops soldier that the U.S. has taken him out of action for fear that people will try and kill him. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy this almost happens when a South American dictator tries to off him and kidnap his daughter. Well, Matrix isn't going to take this lying down and he mercilessly tracks down and kills the dictator's satellite organization in the States and then heads to South America to make sure that heads role over there.
In truth, other than First Blood and First Blood, Part 2, Commando is probably the best of all the other action movies from that time. Aside from the fact that we are told it didn't take itself too seriously (which was lost on me as young kid because I took this movie very seriously), I can think of few films that featured as much entertaining action, dialogue and random scenes as this one did. There is so much happening in this film all the time that it plays like 3 or 4 movies rolled into one.
Having listened to Director Mark L. Lester's commentary for Class of 1984, I was really excited to get to hear what he had to say about Commando. Even though Class of 1984 came out before Commando, I saw both films during a year of my life that was very formative in my development. (You can find out more about that year by checking out my film 1985-1986). So I was happy to hear Lester call Commando his favorite out of the 28 movies he has directed. He then discusses things like where the movie was shot, the casting of Alyssa Milano, and how Joel Silver wanted him to direct this film. I was bothered that Lester seemed to go long periods where he didn't talk, but that seemed to be because he didn't want to have his voice interfere with all the action scenes laid out in the film.
Added Footage/Deleted Scenes
On this release they have given us two featurettes. They are:
- Pure Action
- Let Off Some Steam
As you can guess they focus on the action and themes of the film. We hear from people like Rae Dawn Chong, Bill Duke, Vernon Wells, Mark L. Lester and others as they recount the making of this movie. Mixed in with this is production footage that seems like it has been kept up very nicely over the years. It sort of bothers me that when the actors talk about this movie they say that they didn't take it too seriously. I find that that seems to be a revisionist attitude toward something that seemed to be taken very seriously at the time it was released.
Widescreen - 1.85:1. This movie looks better than I ever remember it looking and that includes when I saw it in the theater. It really seems like the folks at 20th Century Fox have gone through this release and cleaned it up frame by frame. Sometimes movies from the 1980s get sort of a dark look cooked into their compression. I never found any of that but when you consider all the action scenes, all the locations, all the shooting conditions and everything else that honestly makes this release stand out.
Dolby Digital. English 5.1 Dolby Surround. French - Stereo. Spanish - Mono. Subtitled in English and Spanish. Close Captioned. For me this movie sounded big in the theater, it sounded big on VHS and it really sounds well leveled on this DVD. This movie opens with action and it continues throughout the rest of this release. There was never a point, I felt, where the audio wasn't cranked up to get the maximum mileage out of whatever was happening in a given scene.
The front cover of this release features the iconic shot of Arnold with black and green makeup on his face, with nothing covering his upper body but that black vest, ready to kill people. The back has another shot of Arnold firing off his gun amidst an explosion. There is a description of what this movie is about, a Special Features listing and a technical specs list. Inside this release is a 2 page look at this movie that chronicles its release and subsequent fanfare.
I think at the core of DVD enthusiasts excitement for this format is the fact that we get movies like Commando released in these special sets. While I don't think that anybody would say that this movie has been packed with features, it is packed with enough really good stuff to make us very excited about the release. Also, considering that this is an action movie, how overboard do we need people to really get? With two cool featurettes, a comprehensive commentary track, deleted and added scenes what more do people really need?
As I was watching this film I tried to think about the last action movie I saw that made me feel the way Commando did, When was the last time I really rooted for a character in a movie? When was the last time I cared if someone lived, died or completed their mission? When was the last time that the credits rolled in a movie and I was still sitting there awestruck?
It hasn't happened for a while but watching this release of Commando sure makes me wish that it would.
Commando was released October 3, 1985.