Schwarzenegger, by request: Commando, 1985. Spoiler alert: The commando is no racist.

With the possible exception of Kevin Rudd’s stimulus package, no force on earth has done more for world peace, sexual emancipation and fiscal rectitude than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Across four decades Schwarzenegger has loomed large in the global psyche as an omnipotent moral guardian, as well as a cautionary example of the dangers of dental steroids.

What is most impressive about Schwarzenegger is that he overcame poverty, hardship and a strong family background in Nazism to become the very embodiment of the American dream.*

True, he wasn’t the first movie star to hold high office in the United States, however he was the first to do so without doing any acting.

Of course if Arnold Schwarzenegger had actually done any acting it would have been entirely inappropriate because in every single movie he plays Arnold Schwarzenegger and that, by God, is what the audience pays to see.

Regular readers will know this column has touched on Arnold before, in much the same way that Arnold allegedly touched on several women in the 1970s. However this has only served to wet the reading public’s whistle and I have since been inundated by literally dozens of a letter calling for the definitive guide to his work. This of course is too great a task for one man, even one as lonely as this reviewer, and so I have chosen to use the prism of Commando to view the greatness, the wonder, that is Arnold Schwarznegger.

Commando is an obvious starting point for two reasons: The first is that it is the first movie in which Arnold attempts to play a human being who can talk. The second is that it was on TV the other night and I got to watch the last half-hour again.

The film is also seminal in the sense that it lays down the fundamental groundwork for a typical Arnold movie: His child is kidnapped by terrorists and some chick has to help him get the kid back, while at the same time remaining in the safety of the vehicle and/or disobeying an order to remain in the safety of the vehicle. In the case of Commando the leading lady is a black chick, again setting a precendent by which Arnold has to be nice to at least one minority group in each of his films so as to counteract the whole Nazi thing.

Commando is also a standout example of the glorious 1980s action genre that bases an entire film around a man getting dressed.

Indeed, I recall vividly from childhood that the entire trailer was composed of Arnold adorning himself with different layers of utility belts and increasingly severe types of weaponry until he has the equivalent firepower of the Andrews Air Force Base. In the movie this pivotal scene takes place right where I managed to catch it the other night and rarely has a man been so happy in a one bedroom apartment. Arnold straps more gear to him than the Bali Nine and then proceeds to climb a cliff face balancing a rocket-launcher on his head.

Once inside the compound he despatches the various bad guys with a thoughtful balance of firearms and stabbing implements, pausing only to take his shirt off. Indeed there is a particularly memorable moment, which somehow I had forgotten, at which he hacks a bad guy’s arm off with a machete. I found myself wondering at that moment how it was that that particular hired goon had been driven to a life of crime and what socio-economic factors – and no doubt the burden of parental expectation – had led him to the point where Arnold Schwarzenegger leaped out of a garden shed and sliced off his right arm. No doubt he too was wondering how it had all come to this.

The film climaxes with Arnold impaling a camp and moustachioed Australian man who looks like he just walked out of Midnight Shift and is wondering if they still have Bear’s Night at Gilligan’s. This seems an unfair fight from the beginning, not least because the Australian had previously repeatedly alluded to Arnold’s superior fighting skills and hinted that he would enjoy being pounded by him one way or another. Disappointingly for at least some of the group, the impaling is done by a metal steam pipe, leading to Arnold’s quip – improvised, according to Hollywood folklore: “Why don’t you let off some steam?”+

Needless to say Arnie rescues his daughter – who, like most of his screen offspring, is surprisingly unattractive – and jumps on a plane with the black girl to a drug free world of racial harmony. Less than 20 years later Schwarzenegger was elected as Governor of California on the basis that no matter what his Nazi history, he was far less anti-Semitic than Mel Gibson and seemed to like gay people more as well.

*To be fair to Arnold, it should be stated that there is little evidence of the poverty and hardship.

+While widely regarded as a classic cinematic line, this appears to be a rhetorical question as the Australian guy has already died.

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    • Simmo says:

      10:47am | 09/09/09

      I love the bit where he throws the guy off the cliff and then when he gets back to the girl she asks about the guy and Arnie responds with

      “I had to let him go”...

    • Arnold Layne says:

      11:50am | 09/09/09

      In that same cliff scene, you can see the wire holding the guy’s leg while Arnie “holds” him upside-down.  He also uses the line “This is my weak arm” while holding him, which is great.  My favourite line from the movie is:-
      “Remember when I said I’d kill you last”
      “Yeah that’s right you did” (from the bad guy)
      “I lied”

      Finally, the comment about his daugher being suprisingly unattractive is very funny as she’s actually played by a young Alyssa Milano, who obviously grew up to be more-than-somewhat attractive!

    • Sulli says:

      12:57pm | 09/09/09

      I know you only saw the last 1/2 hour but you should have mentioned the cheesy opening montage with him and his daughter. Absolutely classic.

    • stephen says:

      01:38pm | 09/09/09

      Hell, it’s those damned nazis again…..

    • ANDIKA says:

      01:44pm | 09/09/09

      Re Arnold Layne @ 1150

      Yep, my fav line too from the flick.

      Excellent movie review, Joe. I think you should do a review on Van Damm’s Hard Target. That was a cool bubble gum movie.

      Commando was Arnie’s version of Rambo.

      Raw Deal fighting the Mob and of course Arnie as the Russian cop in Red Heat. Great cheesey shoot’em movies. Should be more of them!

    • Ash Simmonds says:

      03:01pm | 09/09/09

      @Arnold Layne:

      His other ugly daughter turned out eventually to be a super hot Eliza Dushku, she still hasn’t returned my email…

    • Justin Turner says:

      03:01pm | 09/09/09

      Watching Commando the other night made me realise that it’s so bad, it’s actually good.

      Sully’s Porsche gets hammered in the chase, flipped on its side & after all that, Arnie does a 3 point turn in it & we see the totalled side which is now mysteriously pristine. Anyone got the number of Arnie’s panel beater? Does good work in a flash.

      And Arnie’s rowing style - what great pec work.

      Tin-pot despots look out! And make sure you hide your circular saw blades well.

      BTW Joe, do you double as John Rolfe? Going by your by-line photos, there’s only half a shaves difference.

    • Dan says:

      05:32pm | 09/09/09

      Commando is a masterpiece; one of the greatest action films ever made, and one of Arnie’s best films. It was awesome, absolutely incredible. Oh, and Arnie can act just fine!

    • Matt Worthington says:

      09:07pm | 09/09/09

      Revise the constitution - Arnold for President!

    • Ben says:

      11:02pm | 09/09/09

      what gets me is that anyone thought the overweight extra from the mardi gras had a chance against arnie.
      And yet he kicks his ass for most of that fight!

      And which movie did arnie’s line “stick around” come from?

    • billy says:

      11:32pm | 09/09/09

      incidentally that surprisingly unattractive daughter grew up to be Alyssa Milano.

    • Hokey says:

      12:03am | 10/09/09

      The lines mentioned above are great… and I also seem to remember a bit where he kills the guy in the airplane seat next to him, and when the hostess comes past Arnie says “Please don’t disturb my friend, he is DEAD tired.”  Comedy Gold there my friends!

    • Jon says:

      09:17am | 10/09/09

      Mr Bearforce 1 from Commando is apparently the same actor who played Humongous (the leather fetishist from Mad Max 2).

    • El Presidente says:

      11:20am | 10/09/09

      The last line is “Let off some steam Bennett.” It is sacrilege to misquote it!

    • attila says:

      11:28am | 10/09/09

      The reason you didn’t remember the arm hacking scene is that we got the censored version in Australia for years, even on DVD I think, so you had probably never seen it before.

    • Markus says:

      12:02pm | 10/09/09

      What unattractive offspring? His movie daughters I can think of are Alyssa Milano and Eliza Dushku, two of the biggest hotties around while I was in my teenage years smile

      I was actually amazed that the censored version kept getting more and more censored as years went on. I first saw it when I was 6, and when I saw it again at 18 I remember thinking ‘where is the guy who gets stabbed with the pitchfork!?’ It’s supposed to be rated R but the current version in Aus barely rates higher than M by today’s standards. Outrage I say!

    • Zebba says:

      12:26pm | 10/09/09

      Best. Movie. Ever.

      To suggest otherwise would be admitting you had a testosterone deficiency. And probably a humour deficiency also.

      So many classic ‘80’s cliches. I might have to dust off my chainmail vest in tribute to it.

    • Mike says:

      12:58pm | 10/09/09

      There is a great quote about the film in “Fantastic” - the Arnie Biography, which goes something like “as he pummels, stabs, slashes and beats enemies senseless, the fight scenes are a rude, acrobatic ballet”.  Highly amusing and most descriptive.

    • David says:

      04:31pm | 10/09/09

      This movie is an absolute classic - haven’t seen it in 15 years.  The fight scene at motel is great (not to offend El Presidente, if I haven’t got the lines right) when the big dark guy, Cooke says “this green beret is going to kick your ass”.  Arnie replies, “I eat great green berets for breakfast”.

      Arnie kills green beret, leaves motel with black chick, takes green beret’s car and says “We’ll take Cooke’s car, he won’t be needing it.” - Classic

    • Jeda says:

      05:27pm | 10/09/09

      You missed the line after He say’s I eat Green Berets for breakfast, And right now I’m very hungry!

    • Adsy says:

      06:01pm | 10/09/09

      I was waiting for the head honcho to come out and say “YOUR A JUNGLE THEME!!”

    • Mike Wilkins says:

      07:28pm | 10/09/09

      I love all of Arnies weapons esp the rocket launcher (Commando), dead man Gun (T2), Grenade Launcher (t2), he always has a thing with the heavy hardware, Rambo is a pussy as he can only use a bow and arrow and a M60, and a lousy Knife.
      BTW can I get some of those toys.
      I would have loved to have seen them both in the same movie in their prime, Alien Vs Predator

    • Nicholas says:

      07:38pm | 10/09/09

      reply to ben

      “And which movie did arnie’s line “stick around” come from?\”

      Predator- after the initial fight scene in the bad guy camp. (which had the hot latino chick) and the line “I dont have time to bleed” that was Jesse Ventura I think raspberry

    • Adam says:

      12:50pm | 28/09/09

      “Ben” at 11:02, “stick around” came from Predator, just after arnie skewered a terrorist with a machette and pinned him to a wooden pillar.


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