Commando: Director's Cut – DVD Review

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Mark L. Lester


Arnold Schwarzenegger………. John Matrix
Rae Dawn Chong………. Cindy
Dan Hedaya………. Arius
Vernon Wells………. Bennett
James Olson………. Gen. Franklin Kirby
David Patrick Kelly………. Sully
Alyssa Milano………. Jenny Matrix
Bill Duke………. Cooke
Drew Snyder………. Lawson
Sharon Wyatt………. Leslie

The Movie

When it comes to the pantheon of the 1980s Schwarzenegger action movies, none is perhaps more revered by action aficionados than Commando. Featuring the Austrian Oak’s best one-liners and most outlandish action sequences of the decade, Commando is a film that was quite popular at the time and has managed to stay popular over the years.

Schwarzenegger stars as John Matrix, a former elite U.S Army operative who has since been relocated to a more rural area with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). When members of his old unit start turning up dead, Matrix is contacted by his old General (James Olson) and is in turn caught up in a trap. An old South American dictator kidnaps his daughter and gives him a deal: assassinate the man Matrix put into power in his stead or the dictator will let Matrix’s old enemy Bennett (Vernon Wells) kill the girl. From there Matrix sets out to foil everyone and bring the fight home, acquiring a cute sidekick (Rae Dawn Chong) along the way to its gunfire filled finale. Before that, he jumps out of an airplane several hundred feet in the area and lives amongst other things. When that isn’t the craziest thing Matrix does in the film it can only lead to something incredibly awesome or incredibly awful. Fortunately for Commando, it turns into one of the most quotable and engrossing action films of all time.

And what a finale it is, as Matrix takes on an entire army of the fictional country of Val Verde and wins single-handedly with just a couple scratches and minor wounds. The film itself is a spectacle of action, but anytime the final scoreboard reads “Evil Foreigners 0, Arnold 150” the film has to be glory of excess. The film is the trendsetter that begat the entire generation of “one man army” style pictures that dominated for nearly two decades.

In an era where excess in its action movies meant a more jingoistic version of events and muscular superstars saving the day, Commando was Arnold’s response to Stallone’s popular character John Rambo. Whereas Rambo was a Vietnam veteran struggling to find his place in a world long since past, Matrix is a guy who has to hire an accounting firm to keep track of the amount of butts he’s kicked and names he’s took. For Arnold, Commando is the film that inspired the mythos of Schwarzenegger in the same way Hard Boiled did for Chow Yun Fat and Die Hard did for Bruce Willis. Matrix would be the template for nearly every single character Arnold portrayed from that moment forward in the same way Yun Fat and Willis aped Tequila and John McClane for every action movie they portrayed afterward. Arnold would go on to much greater success, but Commando is where it all started.

After a bare bones release, Commando has been given a new Director’s Cut edition. The DVD has two separate versions of the film on it, including several minutes of added footage to the “Director’s Cut” version. It’s still virtually the same film except with some minor cosmetic cuts, though there is an extended dramatic scene between Matrix and Cindy that gives a little more gravitas to the situation.


This is the reason to add another edition of Commando to your DVD library as the film has had its video and audio significantly upgraded. Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format, with a widescreen presentation in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film’s video is more crisp and vivid, but the DVD’s sweet is in its audio. The film takes full advantage of the new format as the sound pushes the limit of any good stereo system. This is how Commando is supposed to sound, as the film experience goes from being merely good to being engrossing merely because the audio transfers well on any number of levels.

The Extras

Pure Action is a retrospective piece on the film. Featuring the principles of the cast, mainly Rae Dawn Chong and Vernon Wells, and Schwarzenegger in flashback promotional footage from the film’s original release, this piece discusses the film in a generic, non-specific way.

Let Off Some Steam follows Pure Action in being a sort of general piece about the film and its production. Chong is hilarious in her recollections of Arnold back then as well as some of her commentary about certain parts of the movie.

The film also contains some Deleted Scenes as well as on option to view the Added Footage to the Director’s Cut independently of the film. Featuring two alternate line readings, as well as an extended action sequences and an additional scene of exposition, the added footage doesn’t really add much to the film. There is a scene where Matrix discusses his relationship with his daughter that does give the film a bit more gravitas than before, and the extended action sequence (the tool shed fight scene) is maybe five more seconds of action.

Several Photo Galleries are included as well.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for
Commando: Director’s Cut
(OUT OF 10)






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