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Commando (June 29/01)

The action genre peaked in 1985 with Commando. No movie since has been able to wield a proper combination of hard-core violence, witty one-liners and just the right amount of absurdity like Commando did.

Arnold Schwarzennegger stars as John Matrix, an ex-military man now living in a forest with his daughter, played by Alyssa Milano. Their existence is seemingly perfect - they spend their days chopping wood, feeding baby deer and frolicking in a swimming pool - but their bliss is short lived. Back in Matrix's army days, he had to discharge a fellow soldier for being too vicious. Now Bennett (played by Vernon Wells, in a remarkably flamboyant performance) is back and has kidnapped Matrix's beloved daughter.

Commando works on just about every level - from the hilariously over-the-top action sequences to the brutal violence - but hands down, it's the script that makes Commando such a gem. Plenty of movies have tried to emulate the ease with which Commando unfolds, but never quite as successfully. But more than that, it's the classic one-liners that make this an '80s staple. Here are a few choice quips: "Let off some steam" (said after Matrix has thrown a steam pipe through a baddie's chest); "I eat Green Berets for breakfast and I'm very hungry right now!"; "Don't disturb my friend - he's dead tired" (said after snapping the neck of a villian on an airplane and making it appear as though he's sleeping). And then there's the mother of all exchanges: Matrix is holding a bad guy named Sully (who he previously assured he'd kill last) by one leg over the edge of a cliff and the following dialogue ensues:

"Hey Sully, remember when I promised to kill you last?"

"Yeah, man! You said that!"

"I lied." (Followed by Matrix dropping Sully and Sully screaming as he plummets to his death.)

Gold. Pure gold.

**** out of ****

David Nusair 2001