Lionsgate // 2011 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 10th, 2012
When the Cobra strikes...
...and no one is there to see, does it actually happen?
Martial arts savant -- and bearer of a name that may or may not have belonged to a Power Ranger at some point -- T.J. Storm stars as Sizwe Biko a.k.a. Black Cobra (I think). Biko's father is wrongfully imprisoned in South Africa and the price for his freedom is the death-defying transport of illegal diamonds to the United States.
This inevitably leads to fighting and terrible dialogue recitation.
There are few joys more rewarding than finding an under-the-radar action gem. Lots of crap tends to pass through my DVD player, so anytime an unforeseen winner makes it through the gates I get jazzed. It's like seeing a small, weakly salmon climb the ladder to spawning Nirvana.
I held hope for Black Cobra. It has a cool title, stars a guy named T.J. Storm, sports an R rating, and the disc cover is all black and red and stuff. Unfortunately, you still have to make a movie and, earnest as they may be, the brains behind this production failed to piece together a coherent or entertaining 89 minutes.
The whole thing feels amateurish, from long awkward takes to line readings so stilted it seems the actors were hauled out of dry ice just prior to the cameras rolling. Eternal character actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat) is in this, but I'm not sure if I've seen someone so disinterested in anything other than cashing a paycheck.
Black Cobra's unforgivable sin? The action is boring. And infrequent. T.J. Storm has moves, but the choreography is mediocre and the fights are poorly staged. Even the big final sequence where our hero...er, "storms" the bad guys' hideout is peppered with messy, dark bouts that confuse more than thrill.
The DVD: standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Surround, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and bloopers.
The short of it: Black Cobra is a low-end misfire, a film undeserving of its dope title and awesome star's name.
Guilty. Seal this cobra in its basket and never ever let it out.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Ending
* Deleted Scenes