Commando (1985 film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark L. Lester
Produced by Joel Silver
Screenplay by Steven E. de Souza
Story by Steven E. de Souza
Jeph Loeb
Matthew Weisman
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Edited by Glenn Farr
Mark Goldblatt
John F. Link
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • October 4, 1985 (1985-10-04)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million[1]
Box office $57.5 million[2]

Commando is a 1985 American action film directed by Mark L. Lester, The film features an ensemble cast including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Alyssa Milano, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Bill Duke, Dan Hedaya, and Vernon Wells. The film was released in the United States on October 4, 1985.

The film was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects but lost to Back to the Future. The film's score was provided by James Horner. A critical success and commercial hit, Commando was the 7th highest-grossing R-rated movie of 1985 worldwide, and the 25th highest-grossing overall.[3]


Retired Delta Force operator Colonel John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is informed by his former superior Major General Franklin Kirby (James Olson) that certain other members of his former unit have been killed quite recently by unknown mercenaries. The mercenaries, among them Bennett (Vernon Wells), an Australian ex-member of Matrix's team decomissioned for enjoying the killing too much, attack Matrix's secluded mountain home and kidnap Matrix's young daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). While trying to intercept them, Matrix is also overpowered and abducted by the mercenaries. He is taken before their leader, Arius (Dan Hedaya), a South American former dictator who needs Matrix to carry out a political assassination in his home country of Val Verde, where Arius wishes to lead a military coup. Matrix previously led a United States-backed revolution that deposed Arius, who has chosen Matrix because the new US-puppet president trusts him implicitly. With Jenny's life on the line, Matrix is left with no choice but to reluctantly accept the demand.

After boarding a plane to Val Verde, Matrix manages to kill his guard, Henriques, and jumps from the plane just as it is taking off. With approximately 11 hours' time (the period of the flight), he sets out after another of Arius' men, Sully (David Patrick Kelly). He enlists the aid of an off-duty flight attendant, Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), and instructs her to follow Sully to a shopping mall. Cindy first assumes that Matrix is a maniac, but after she sees Sully pull a gun on Matrix in the ensuing fight, she has a change of heart and henceforth assists him in his endeavor. After a lengthy car chase, Matrix catches up with Sully and drops him off a cliff to his death. Taking a motel key from Sully's jacket, Matrix tracks down and confronts Cooke (Bill Duke), a former Green Beret in Arius' employ. He kills Cooke after a lengthy fight and learns where Jenny is being held after searching Cooke's car.

Matrix breaks into a surplus store to equip himself with military weaponry, but the police arrive and Matrix is arrested. Cindy helps him escape with a FLASH rocket launcher and, after commandeering a seaplane from a nearby marina controlled by the Arius' men, Matrix and Cindy land the plane off the coast of Arius' island hideout. Matrix instructs Cindy to contact General Kirby and then proceeds to Arius' villa, killing the leader as well as his men on the way. Jenny escapes her confinement to the villa's basement, but is captured by Bennett. Matrix tracks them and faces Bennett in a fierce struggle in a boiler room until Matrix fatally impales Bennett with a steam pipe, convincing him to "let off some steam." In the aftermath, Kirby arrives with a military detachment and asks Matrix to rejoin the Special Forces Unit, but Matrix declines and departs the island aboard the seaplane with Jenny and Cindy.




Screenwriter Jeph Loeb pitched his original idea to producer Robert Kosberg, who then partnered with Stephanie Brody, and together the two brought the spec script by Loeb to producer Joel Silver. Loeb states that the film was originally conceived as a vehicle for Gene Simmons, who passed, and later scripted with Nick Nolte in mind to play the lead as an out-of-condition former commando struggling with the demands of his mission. Walter Hill was originally involved in the development process. Kosberg and Brody were credited as Associate Producers.[4]

The original concept was for an Israeli special forces–Mossad agent who, sick of the continual death and destruction in the Middle East, emigrates from Israel to the United States, where he is forced out of his self-imposed retirement after his daughter is kidnapped. This was modified and further adapted when Schwarzenegger was cast; some of the original dialogue can be heard in the deleted scenes when Matrix says he regrets his past actions.


Principal photography commenced on April 22, 1985 and lasted for 45 days.[5] The film was shot on location in California. San Nicolas Island off the coast of Santa Barbara, to which Matrix flies to rescue his daughter, was filmed on the Pacific coast at San Simeon. The barracks that are "attacked" are actually beach properties belonging to the Hearst Castle Estate. The house that Matrix storms at the film's climax was actually the former main residence of the Harold Lloyd Estate in the Benedict Canyon district of Beverly Hills. The car chase scene between Sully and Matrix starts on Ventura Blvd and moves into the hills on Benedict Canyon.



Diamond Toymakers released a line of action figures in 1986 in an attempt to cash in on the success of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Matrix now leads an elite special forces unit (which replaced his old deceased unit from the original film) called C-Team, made up of Spex, Blaster, and Chopper, against the forces of F.E.A.R., led by Psycho (who is based on the character of Bennett) and consisting of Lead-Head, Stalker, and Sawbones. There was an assortment of 4" figures, containing all of the above, a series of 8" figures, consisting of Matrix, Spex, Blaster, Psycho, Lead-Head, and Stalker. Chopper and Sawbones are absent. Finally, there was an 18" John Matrix that came with a pistol, an M16, and a grenade.

Home media

The first DVD of Commando was released in region 1 in the United States on May 25, 1999. Common with early DVD releases, the disc featured a non-anamorphic video transfer, a basic 2.0 surround track, and only the US theatrical trailer as an extra. DVDs released in other regions soon followed, some with anamorphic transfers, but the 2001 United Kingdom region 2 DVD was censored by the BBFC, with 12 seconds of cuts to an arm severing and closeups of the impaled Bennett. These cuts were brought over from the 1985 original theatrical release. However, a German master was used for the UK DVD, meaning the film was cut even more than it should have been, leading to 56 seconds of cuts instead of the BBFC's 12 seconds. If the film had been resubmitted to the BBFC, it would be passed uncut under the BBFC's new, more liberal rules. This has proven to be the case as the BBFC's website indicates that both versions of the film (the U.S. theatrical cut and the unrated edition) for the DVD were passed on June 11, 2007. With the unrated edition released, the film is in its entirety, a first for the UK.

On June 5, 2007, 20th Century Fox officially announced that a completely unedited and unrated director's cut of the film would be released on region 1 DVD on September 18, 2007. Through seamless branching, this disc not only features an unrated cut (which was claimed to run at 95 minutes, but is only 91 minutes, with 92 seconds of extra footage), but as a bonus, also contains the original 90-minute, R-rated US theatrical version. Aside from this, the DVD is a special edition, featuring an audio commentary from director Mark L. Lester (only on the theatrical cut), additional deleted scenes, a Pure Action featurette, a Let Off Some Steam featurette, and four photo galleries with over 150 photos. The transfer is anamorphically enhanced and features a 5.1 audio mix.

In April 2008, the 90-minute theatrical version of the film was released to consumers on the high definition Blu-ray disc format.

On May 5, 2015, as part of the film's 30th anniversary, the director's cut of Commando was released on Blu-ray Disc in a limited edition, collectible metalpak as a Best Buy exclusive. It contains all of the special features that were included in the 2007 DVD release, including the 90-minute theatrical version of the film.


Box office

Commando was a box office success grossing over $57.5 million against a $10 million budget. The film debuted at number one on October 6, 1985 in the United States and spent three consecutive weeks at the top position.[6]

Critical response

The film maintains a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 32 reviews), indicating generally positive reviews. Reviews from Kevin N. Laforest, Scott Weinberg, Dave Kehr and Luke Thomson acknowledge the film's tongue-in-cheek humor as well as its status as a cult classic.[7]


Soundtrack album by James Horner
Released December, 2003
Genre Soundtrack
Length 43:21
Label Varèse Sarabande
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic link

A soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande on December 2, 2003 as part of the label's CD Club and was limited to 3000 copies.[8] The score, composed by James Horner, is notable for its prominent use of steel drums.

A song titled "We Fight for Love", featured in the film and recorded by the Power Station, wasn't included in the official soundtrack. The song featured founder Robert Palmer's replacement, Michael Des Barres, and was the band's only song with Des Barres singing lead. It would appear on the 2006 remaster of The Power Station.

Track listing

  1. "Prologue/Main Title" – 3:58
  2. "Ambush and Kidnapping" – 2:35
  3. "Captured" – 2:14
  4. "Surprise" – 8:19
  5. "Sully Runs" – 4:34
  6. "Moving Jenny" – 3:44
  7. "Matrix Breaks In" – 3:30
  8. "Infiltration, Showdown and Finale" – 14:32

La-La Land Records released a limited edition of James Horner's score in August 2011. The release features approximately 62 minutes of music across 24 tracks and includes "We Fight for Love".

Soundtrack album by James Horner
Released August, 2011
Genre Soundtrack
Length 61:48
Label La-La Land Records


In 2008, a Russian remake (День Д)[9] was made. It was produced and directed by Mikhail Porechenkov (who stars as John Matrix's equivalent) and also features Barbara Porechenkova, Mikhail Trukhin, Alexandra Ursulyak, and Bob Schrijber.[10]

In 2010, it was announced that Fox would begin filming a remake of the film with David Ayer in negotiations to direct.[11] Sam Worthington was attached to play the new lead role, which would reportedly have a more realistic approach.[12]


  1. "Movie Commando – Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
  2. "Commando (1985) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. "Commando (1985)". Box Office Mojo. 1985-12-10. Retrieved 2013-01-08.
  4. john siuntres. "Word Balloon The Pop Culture Interview Podcast: The Loeb report Part 2".
  5. Variety magazine. April 18, 1985.
  6. "Commando Summary". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  7. "Commando': A Bloody Mess. Movie Reviews". Morning Call. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
  8. Varèse Sarabande Product Details
  9. "'День Д' (Day-D) Official Website (translated)".
  10. Mack, Andrew. "It's Russian COMMANDO! Trailer for Mihail Porechenkov's 'День Д' aka. Day". Twitch.
  11. Markovitz, Adam. "Commando remake in the works: Who should take Arnold Schwarzenegger's role?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 19, 2010.
  12. Commando Remake Attaches Sam Worthington. "'Commando' Remake Attaches Sam Worthington". News in Film. Retrieved 2011-09-19.

External links

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