My friend’s favourite movie is Commando. It has its own shelf in his house, because he thinks it’s too good to share with the other movies.

Watching Mark L. Lester’s 1985 blockbuster for the second time, I’m inclined to agree, if not quite to that extent: it’s a bloody brilliant film. Like Schwarzenegger, it’s a lumbering clod that’s somehow endearing and makes no pretentions to be more than it is.

Arnie is a retired army type whose daughter is taken hostage to force him to kill a South American president. Of course, the bad guy’s plans soon go awry as Arnie begins his predictable killing spree. Rae Dawn Chong is mildly annoying to start with as the screaming sidekick, but soon proves useful to have around. Alyssa Milano gets an early role as the kidnapped youngster, and strikes a nice balance of looking helplessly cute (as kids have to be in these things) and refreshingly resourceful.

Of course, realism isn’t the name of the game here, and from Arnie’s arrival on the kidnapper’s island to the cheesy finale I was expecting the villains to drop loot and health packs. Still, Hollywood absurdities aside, it’s one of the best of its type, and Vernon Wells’ camp villain steals the film.



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