let off some steam

Commando (film)

Commando is a 1985 American action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film's use of humor in an action film context became a distinctive element in Schwarzenegger's later roles.


Retired Col. John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a special forces soldier who once led an elite unit and has left the armed forces to live in a secluded mountain home with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano). Unbeknownst to Matrix, the members of his former unit are being killed one by one. Even though Matrix's friend Gen. Franklin Kirby gives Matrix armed guards, attackers manage to kidnap Matrix and Jenny. Matrix learns that Bennett (Vernon Wells), a former member of his unit who was presumed dead, has kidnapped him to try to force Matrix to commit a political assassination for a man called Arius (who calls himself "El Presidente"), a warlord formerly bested by Matrix who wishes to lead a military coup in his home country, Val Verde. Since Arius will have Jenny killed if Matrix refuses, Matrix reluctantly accepts the demand.

After Matrix is taken aboard an airplane heading to the foreign country, he kills the henchman guarding him and jumps into a swamp just as the plane is leaving the runway. Matrix then sets his stopwatch for the approximate time of the flight. Subsequently, he commandeers the car of Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), an off-duty flight attendant, and enlists her help by explaining the disaster that has befallen him and Jenny. The two follow Sully, the henchman designated to watch the plane leave, and Matrix kills him by dropping him off the side of a mountain. When asked by Cindy what he did to Sully, Matrix replies "I let him go".

After Matrix learns where Arius' mansion is located and, presumably, where Jenny is being held, he breaks into a surplus store and steals a veritable one-man arsenal of both small arms and heavy weapons. Matrix is interrupted by the police, who have shown up to investigate the disturbance, and is arrested. Cindy frees him by overturning the police van with a rocket launcher; when questioned by Matrix on how she knew how to use it, she says "I read the instructions."

After commandeering a seaplane from a nearby marina run by Arius, Matrix and Cindy land the plane off the coast of the island where Arius is located. Matrix instructs Cindy to contact General Kirby and then proceeds to Arius' villa. Matrix uses the weapons and explosives to kill most of Arius' forces, and then proceeds to Arius' villa, where he kills Arius with a shotgun.

Although Matrix finds Jenny in the basement, Bennett shoots Matrix in the arm. Matrix then taunts Bennett into facing him in a knife fight to which Bennett falls for. After a fierce struggle, Matrix gains the upper hand and Bennett, defeated, reaches for a gun. Matrix then impales Bennett with a steam pipe, at which point Matrix says "Let off some steam, Bennett". After Kirby arrives with a military detachment, Matrix, Cindy, and Jenny fly off into the sunset as the pop song "We Fight for Love" plays in the background.


Bill Duke also co-starred with Schwarzenegger in Predator and Bill Paxton previously co-starred with Schwarzenegger in The Terminator as the punk who gets impaled in the opening scene.


Screenwriter Jeph Loeb states that the film was originally conceived as a vehicle for Gene Simmons (who passed on it), 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.

A sequel was considered, but never filmed; Arnold Schwarzenegger was not interested.


Commando earned $7,700,000 during its opening weekend, playing on 1,495 screens in the United States. It went on to gross $35 million in the United States, and an additional $22 million worldwide. Based on 29 reviews the film scored a 72% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.1/10 at the IMDb.


The movie was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects, but lost to Back to the Future.

Weapons used by Matrix

DVD releases

The first DVD of Commando was released in region 1 in the U.S. 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 UK region 2 DVD was censored by the BBFC (approximately 12 seconds of cuts) due to violence. 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 cut. 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.

Toy line

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 called C-Team, made up of Spex, Blaster, and Chopper, against the forces of F.E.A.R., led by Psycho 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. Oddly, Chopper and Sawbones are absent. Finally, there was an 18" John Matrix that came with a pistol, an M-16, and a grenade. The toy line was criticized (as was competing lines for RoboCop and Rambo) for making toys marketed to children out of Rated-R movies that few of them should have seen.


A soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande on December 2, 2003 as part of the Varèse Sarabande CD Club, and was limited to 3000 copies.

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


External links

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