well, much to my unbridled joy, a joy which was equal only to Michele's eye-rolling sighing, one of the most excellent films ever made in the history of motion pictures was on TV over the weekend.
i speak, of course, of the magnificent and reasonably celebrated 1985 classic Commando, starring a then up and coming Arnold Schwarzenegger. Michele, amongst others, asks why exactly i love this film so much. the answer is pretty simple, really - it is just pure, mental all out enjoyment. and, with something like a death every minute of the film, i do mean mental - i can't think of a film more dedicated to gratuitous violence for the sake of it. those of you who are as familiar with the film as i am will recall that very few of the deaths are dull or conventional - Arnold dispenses most with more creative style and panache than you would expect in a straightforward action film.
i think a great deal of my love for the film stems from the fact that we at school had a pirate copy of it something like a year before it was released in the UK. a lad at school had it on Beta, and one of my Dad's friends who ran a photo lab or something was able to convert it VHS.
i am not sure if what we got our hands on was a "workprint" or something. it was certainly a very bad copy, and it very certainly contained bits not quite the same as the final, released version. our copy, for instance, featured a dummy clearly dropping from the play when Matrix (Arnold) made his escape from the flight; a scene that was slowed down in the finished version to make it look, erm, convincing.
our copy, and i wish that i had kept it, also featured the full blown "garden shed scene". the scenes with the axe and, most commonly, the machete are cut from several versions around the world. our version, however, did not feature Arnold beating someone over the head with his own severed arm. this scene is rumoured to exist, but i have never seen any evidence that it does. oddly, the version on TV over the weekend featured both the axe and machete bits; i thought that at the least the last part had been deleted forever from the film.
i don't know just how much this film contributed to Arnold being the big star that he is, really. it sounds like the film did reasonable box office for an 80's non-family film. you would suggest that his film from the year before, The Terminator, is the one that made him the icon. i saw this before The Terminator, however, and thus it was the case that i proudly had a Commando poster up in my bedroom!
if you go along to the excellent web site thing Commando Fans, you may be delighted, like i was, to see that the love of this film stretches far and wide. it's easily one of the best fan tribute sites i have ever seen, and tells you all that you could want to know of the film. it also has an introduction from, and a great deal of homage for, one of the most interesting characters in the film...
oh yes, Bennett! played by Vernon Wells with the same psychotic insanity with which he played Wez in Mad Max 2, he is certainly one of the more interesting and memorable bad guys to be in a film.
if you stop and think about it long enough (and i encourage you not to), Vernon Wells as the only person apparently able to stand a chance to beating Arnold is ridiculous. physically, Arnold would clearly slap Vernon into the middle of next week within seconds. the clever film makers don't let that get in the way of an ace fight at the end, though!
also on the Commando Fans site is a rather bizarre look at the toys (!) one could buy for this film. i must say i would have loved my own Matrix action figure, or perhaps even the "toy grenade" that they have on display!
needless to say, if you have not seen this masterpiece of cinema, go find a copy!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!