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Mark L. Lester
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Alyssa Milano
Writing Credits:
Steven E. de Souza

A retired elite Black Ops Commando launches a one man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter to blackmail him into starting a revolution and getting an exiled dictator back into power.

Box Office:
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$7.700 million on 1495 screens.
Domestic Gross
$37.810 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Monaural
French Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

90 min.
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 4/15/2008

• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Commando [Blu-Ray] (1985)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 29, 2016)

We revisit the heyday of the ultra-macho action star with 1985’s Commando. Retired warrior Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives in the mountains with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). He promises her that he won’t return to active duty, but the situation changes when someone starts to kill his also-retired – and supposedly hidden – men.

This threat becomes even real when baddies open fire on John in his home. They kidnap Jenny and Matrix learns what he’ll have to do to gain her return. Some thugs want him to kill the president of a Latin country called Val Verde so they can install their own leader. Either Matrix does the job or they’ll off Jenny.

Without any other option, Matrix accepts – but that doesn’t mean the villains have won, of course. As soon as his plane leaves LA, Matrix deals with the problem in his own manner. The rest of the flick follows the action as Matrix tries to keep Jenny alive and deal with a mix of other concerns – all while the clock ticks toward a deadline.

If you look up “gratuitous violence” in the dictionary, you’ll see a link to Commando. We watch two needlessly bloody killings within the movie’s first three minutes, and it doesn’t get better from there. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to graphic violence when the film needs it. I just don’t much care for the casual manner in which Commando throws out its bloodshed.

Though one could easily argue that this was the style of the era, and they’d be correct. While you’re in the dictionary, take a look at “80s cheese” and you’ll once again locate Commando.

Did any of us take this nonsense seriously back then? Maybe, but that seems hard to imagine. From start to finish, the film is so absurd that I started to wonder if the filmmakers intended it as a parody.

Then I thought back to the 80s and realized that they probably didn’t. No, I don’t think we’re supposed to view the movie as hard drama, but I also don’t believe we’re meant to see it as quite so idiotic. Comedic elements amuse simply because they’re not funny. Let’s look at this exchange between Arius (Dan Hedaya) and Jenny:

“Your father seems to be cooperating. You will be together with him soon. Won’t that be nice?”

“Not nearly as nice as watching him smash your face in!”

We’re supposed to cheer and holler little Jenny’s gumption. We don’t. Instead, we grimace at the dopiness of the whole thing and wonder who thought dialogue like that would sound cool.

Moments like that abound during Commando, one of the most stiff and awkward action films I’ve seen. Movie quips can be fun, but this one’s dialogue is so stiff that it distracts, as does the nature of the Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) character. She clearly exists as exposition and a plot device.

Cindy’s presence is absurd, and it makes no sense that Matrix would allow her to come along for the ride, as she’d detract from the mission. Again, I don’t expect realism from a flick like this, but at least a minor nod in the direction of logic would be nice.

Actually, I’d be happy if Commando made even rudimentary sense. It mangles its plot to match its desires, with no concept of internal consistency. One minute Matrix can take down an onslaught of men, but then he gets caught by a couple of beat cops? That scene exists solely so we can see Cindy shoot a rocket launcher to break Matrix out of the police van. Couldn’t they have invented a more logical manner to have this happen?

If the movie’s action excelled, I might be able to ignore these idiotic moments. Unfortunately, Commando can’t deliver in that department. If you like massive body counts and chaotic mayhem, you’ll feel differently.

As for me, I’d like to see action that goes beyond the ho-hum slaying on display here. Matrix just kills, kills, kills, and the movie never generates even the most rudimentary sense of excitement or drama. It’s all about the final death tally, as the film can’t deliver anything more interesting than blasts and bullets.

If I were 14 and it was the 80s again, I might be dumb/naïve enough to find enjoyment in Commando. However, it’s 2016 and I’m 49. Nostalgia can’t save this one, as it hasn’t aged well at all. I’m not sure it ever was anything but terrible, but 31 years after its release, Commando is unwatchable for anything other than camp value and mockery.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus D-

Commando appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer showed its age.

Overall delineation was mediocre. While the movie presented generally adequate sharpness, I didn’t think it fared better than that, as parts of the film seemed a bit mushy and indistinct.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but mild edge haloes crept into the presentation. I also saw occasional examples of specks and debris, though not to a significant degree.

Colors tended to be decent to good. While I wouldn’t say the hues popped off the screen, they showed reasonable vivacity and worked fine given the nature of 1980s stocks. Blacks tended to be okay – if on the flat side – whereas shadows veered toward the dense side of the street. While I didn’t think this was a bad transfer, it seemed wholly lackluster.

Although also dated, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio of Commando seemed decent when I considered the film’s age. Audio quality was the main minor disappointment, as the mix didn’t show a great deal of dynamic range.

In particular, the score came across as somewhat wan and lackluster; the music could’ve used more punch. Effects suffered from a little distortion and lacked great definition, but they offered some pop during louder segments and usually sounded acceptably accurate. Speech was fairly natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns.

I thought the soundfield managed to bring the action to life in a moderately positive manner. The forward spectrum showed good imaging, as the various effects were reasonably well localized and placed. Movement was a little less solid, but I still thought the pieces merged together in a good way. Music showed solid stereo spread as well.

Surround usage wasn’t exceptional but it satisfied. The rear channels helped reinforce the action and added some oomph to the program. Overall, the audio had its ups and downs but was good enough for a “B-”.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2007 DVD version? Audio seemed like a wash, as the lossless DTS-HD MA track couldn’t do much with the 31-year-old stems. Though I suspect the Blu-ray used the same transfer as the DVD, the format’s superior capabilities meant the Blu-ray provided a moderate visual improvement. The Blu-ray beat the DVD, but it could still use an upgrade.

Whereas the DVD offered a plethora of extras, the Blu-ray includes only a mix of trailers. We get ads for Commando as well as fellow Fox flicks Alien Vs. Predator, Behind Enemy Lines, Phone Booth, Planet of the Apes (2001) and The Transporter.

Stiff, awkward, cheesy and idiotic, Commando exists to pour on mindless mayhem. It lacks any form of drama or cleverness, but it sure does pile on the kills! The Blu-ray offers mediocre visuals, decent audio and almost no supplements. I don’t know if Commando is the worst of the 1980s action flicks, but it’s pretty awful.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of COMMANDO

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