The “he” in question there is Stallone. Remember, Stallone had proven himself as a writer, earning an Academy Award nomination for penning Rocky. His screenplays for Rocky II and First Blood (co-written with Michael Kozoll and William Sackheim) didn’t earn quite the same acclaim, but they were successful. And so when Stallone joined the project, he re-wrote the screenplay to make it about Axel Cobretti, the Motor City Cobra.
To hear Stallone tell it, he re-wrote the screenplay because he couldn’t see the humor in the concept. “Somehow, me trying to comically terrorize Beverly Hills is not the stuff that great yuk-festivals are made from,” he recalled for Ain’t It Cool News in 2006. To better suit his approach, Stallone made his version. “[A]nd by the time I was done, it looked like the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on the beaches of Normandy,” he revealed. “Believe it or not, the finale was me in a stolen Lamborghini playing chicken with an oncoming freight train being driven by the ultra-slimy bad guy.”
Citing budget concerns, Simpson and Bruckheimer dropped Stallone and hired Eddie Murphy, who proved himself an action movie star in 48 Hrs., which suited Brest just fine. “The nature of Eddie’s talent and the theme that I would like to bring up and the tone that I would love to make this movie about, it was perfect,” he told Variety.
The Heat Is Hotter
We know that Beverly Hills Cop became a blockbuster hit that spawned two immediate sequels, with a fourth entry coming in 2024. But what about Axel Cobretti, the Motor City Cobra?
Stallone took the project to its natural home, Cannon Film, where it became Cobra, written by Stallone and directed by George P. Cosmatos. According to the credits, Cobra adapts the novel Fair Game by Paula Gosling (which also spawned a Cindy Crawford vehicle in 1995). And Cobra does involve Cobretti protecting a beautiful woman (Stallone’s then wife Brigitte Nielsen) from danger. But in Stallone’s movie, that danger comes in the form of an axe-wielding serial killer cult called the New World, led by a man known only as the Night Thrasher (Brian Thompson).
As that description suggests, Cobra is an incredibly violent movie. In the first scene, a gunman holds hostages in a supermarket after randomly killing a few, including a kid. The police call in the so-called Zombie Squad, led by Detective Cobretti. Of course, the Cobra’s detective methods consist mostly of cocking his gun, taunting the hostage taker, and then blowing him away.