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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Commando – Director’s Cut (DVD-Video)

Commando – Director’s Cut (DVD-Video)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Film: C-



If there were just one word to describe 1985’s Arnold Schwarzenegger film, it would have to be… ridiculous.  The whole film starts out on a pretentious and preposterous concept that only becomes obvious quite quickly that the film is an action vehicle to meet the needs of “Arnie” so he can flex some, shoot big guns, and say the silliest lines in all of cinema.  Of course the 1980’s were a time when Arnold could do just about any film, regardless of plot, and it would make money.  After the success of The Terminator, Conan the Barbarian/Destroyer, and Red Sonja it was time for Arnold to do a film set in present day and utilize his physique as a retired elite commando, who is trying to live an ordinary life with his daughter (played by Alyssa Milano).  Commando did not do near the business at the theater as expected, primarily due to Stallone’s Rocky IV and Rambo:  First Blood Part Two.  Also that year Back to the Future, Jewel of the Nile, and The Goonies proved that people were looking for different type of action films. 


It’s easy to see after revisiting this film why it fails on so many levels.  I have seen the film numerous times, although most of the time when it’s on cable it is the pan & scan version and looks dated.  Well, bad news…the DVD Director’ Cut doesn’t change the look of the film that much and the film still suffers drastically.  Perhaps the biggest problem with the film is that is relies on the acting prowess of Arnold to carry the film, well guess what…that doesn’t quite happen.  The script for this film is atrocious and it makes Arnold seem even sillier than just about any other film he’s done.  Now I don’t think that anyone will likely mistake Arnold Schwarzenegger for Lawrence Olivier anytime soon, but there have been a few films that managed to capitalize on Arnold’s persona to make the films work, like The Terminator series and End of Days.  Here, we get Arnold at his worst with tons of poor editing choices, loads of continuity errors, and overall just one train wreck of a production.   


When you consider these things it’s no wonder that director Mark L. Lester went on to do other bombs like Armed and Dangerous (1986), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), and a few other C-grade material that few people have seen and or care about.  This Directors Cut DVD doesn’t dramatically change the film much either and only inserts a total of 2-minutes worth of new footage…whoopee!  I realize that there are probably die-hard “Arnie” fans who will want to rejoice over this new DVD edition, but unfortunately there is nothing here that would make one jump for joy. 


The 1.85 X 1 anamorphically enhanced picture is soft and pasty, which is a big disappointment.  While it’s nice to have the film in widescreen, there is little boost in quality over the broadcasts that I have seen on TV.  While the DVD is marginally better, it really wouldn’t matter much anyway because no matter how pristine the print is, the film is still a mess.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and Dolby Surround mixes included are also a disappointment and for those anxious to hear machine guns being fired away the soundtrack is front heavy and the surrounds are rarely engaging. 


The extras include having both the theatrical and directors cut of the film on the disc as well as commentary by director Mark L. Lester.  There are also some deleted scenes, featurettes, and a few other supplements that will appeal to some.  There is no doubt that most Arnie fans will find this new release to be superior to the previously released DVD, but the film does have a ways to go presentation-wise and the HD formats may be the way to finally resolve some of the picture quality issues, although that still won’t change the incompetence behind the production of this film.



-   Nate Goss


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