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Hunters of the Golden Cobra/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Hunters of the Golden Cobra

This is an Italian rip-off of the immensely popular RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) where we are treated to a WWII era adventure with a sarcastic hard-drinking American lead who finds himself caught between hostile jungle natives and Western treasure hunters.

The film opens amidst a plot already in motion, which always helps in this genre, when British Intelligence agent David Franks (John Steiner) and American soldier Bob Jackson (David Warbeck) plan a sneak attack on a Japanese base. In true low budget tradition they are not only a mere ridiculous two man team, but are both dressed in black with ski masks - hardly Army issue. I found myself wondering if this wasn't World War II, but a 1980s Chuck Norris film. Nevertheless, the ensuing action sequence is surprisingly professional with plenty of pyrotechnics and creative miniature trick photography (director Margheriti's background in SFX excels here) and our hero soon finds himself hurt and alone in the jungle before encountering a mysterious Caucasian woman protected by angry savages.

What is enjoyable about this film is its even pace and adequate production and I realize that isn't a glowing endorsement. The movie isn't great, but it isn't bad either. So many of these Italian/English language productions of the decade were merely assembly-line entertainment and in the process, many are below par. Of course, sometimes those are the perfect conditions for a uniquely strange and wildly entertaining movie - that's what I love about the genre. However, this film isn't one of those despite the accomplished director Antonio Margheriti (Cannibal Apocalypse, Yor, The Hunter From The Future) and genre regulars David Warbeck (The Beyond, Miami Golem) and John Steiner (Tenebre, Caligula). The whole cast, in fact, handle themselves nicely. Our pair of heroes do have a fun rhetoric between them (one could enjoy a drinking game every time the line "old chap" is uttered), but they never quite reach the heights of, say, Roger Moore and Stacy Keach in Street People.

Director Antonio Margheriti is more than capable in crafting an enjoyable motion picture. He directed over fifty movies in his life and held a multitude of film positions including special effects work (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, Inglorious Bastards) and AD job for Paul Morrissey on his pair of Andy Warhol Frankenstein/Dracula pictures. What's missing from HUNTERS is more excitement and one can only presume not enough attention was paid to the project after his previous production and before his next. In fact, his later and similar adventure film The Ark of The Sun God (which brings back three of the major actors in different roles) is drastically more entertaining with wild car stunts and more overall action and explosions. The pair of films make an excellent double bill, with ARK being the kicker, but COBRA is still a fun one.

HUNTERS OF THE GOLDEN COBRA truly plays like RAIDERS because it's simply fun; no nudity, mild violence, and the good guy gets the girl in the end. That's all, really. It's entertaining enough and very well made, but never quite ranks up against the ultimate Indiana Jones knock-off KING SOLOMON'S MINES (1985) from Cannon Films.

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Josh Stephenson was born in Florida, schooled in Chicago, and lives in New Orleans. His mother went into labor while his father and brother were attending a theatrical double feature of EXCALIBUR and BLOOD BEACH. A youth spent in the VHS rental heyday led to a lifelong addiction to movies. He holds a BS in Television Journalism from the University of Florida and a BA in Film Editing from Columbia College Chicago. He continues to work in the Louisiana film industry despite a government-issued tax cap.
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