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Commando (1985) Poster

(1985)

Trivia

Jump to: Spoilers (7)
According to Alyssa Milano, Arnold Schwarzenegger was very protective of her on set. "He even helped with my algebra homework."
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Rae Dawn Chong nailed her audition and was given this role on the spot. She took it, saying, "I knew Arnold would make the film a hit, and I wanted to be part of that."
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Vernon Wells described his look as "Freddie Mercury on steroids".
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The shopping mall (Sherman Oaks Galleria) used is the same one that was used in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), also starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since both films wrapped, the mall has been remodeled.
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Mark L. Lester really wanted Arnold Schwarzenegger to dangle David Patrick Kelly over the edge without any help. Arnold said, "Are you crazy?" So they used a crane to hang Sully off the cliff.
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Rae Dawn Chong's reactions to the motel fight were filmed separately and were completely ad-libbed.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger & Rae Dawn Chong shot a love scene, but it was deemed unconvincing and was dropped from the movie.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Vernon Wells have remained close friends ever since the making of the movie.
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During the scene in the shed, after Matrix cuts the soldier's arm off, he was originally supposed to hit the victim with it and say "Need a hand?" This scene was never shot however, as it was considered too macabre. Despite this, the 2007 director's cut restored a few extra seconds of footage of Matrix tossing the cut limb nonchalantly at the wounded soldier, as most likely a "lighter" alternative to blatantly hitting him with it.
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Body count: 109 (102 killed by Arnold Schwarzenegger).
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Arnold Schwarzenegger performed many of his own stunts, as producers found it difficult to find a stunt double for the bodybuilder. The actor suffered a dislocated shoulder and several stitches during the shoot.
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There are 54 stunt performers listed in the credits, 17 more people than the actual cast.
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Vernon Wells wasn't the original actor cast to play Bennett. He did audition for the role and lost to Wings Hauser. On the first day of filming, however, director Mark L. Lester fired Hauser and hired Wells. This is the reason that Bennett's clothes seem so tight, because Wells was bigger than Hauser, and the production didn't have time to make a new costume. Over the years, a rumor has developed that Wells originally auditioned for the part of Matrix, but this is false.
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This is director Mark L. Lester's favorite movie of his own.
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An Army consultant showed Arnold Schwarzenegger the move to quietly kill Henriques.
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The mansion used in the final shootout between Matrix and Arius (the former Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills) is the same mansion seen in the final shootout between Axel Foley and Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop (1984). Coincidentally, both Matrix and Foley were trying to rescue somebody named Jenny in that mansion in their respective films.
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Arius (Dan Hedaya) is said to be a deposed dictator from the country of Val Verde. Val Verde was a fictionalized South/Central American country used by Hollywood from the 1980s to early 1990s to depict a Spanish speaking country similar to Cuba or Nicaragua without encountering diplomatic problems. It is also referenced in the films Predator (1987), Die Hard 2 (1990), and the made for TV movie Supercarrier: Deadly Enemies (Pilot) (1988).
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According to Steven E. de Souza, Arnold Schwarzenegger told him, "I like this picture. I'm not a caveman. Before the shooting and killing, I'm a normal person."
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Arnold Schwarzenegger can bench press over 450 pounds, but they made the phone booth out of balsa wood anyway.
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After Cindy fires the rocket launcher, she says she learned how to use it because "she read the instructions." While the line was intended as a joke, if you look closely in the earlier scene when she and Matrix stock up at Surplus City, there is indeed an instruction manual for the weapon in the shopping cart as Cindy wheels the cart out of the store. Also, many items of military equipment (especially LAWS rockets, portable missile launchers and the like) have instructions printed right on the items themselves.
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John McTiernan was offered the chance to direct this film, and turned it down. Later, while editing Nomads (1986), his feature debut, he was offered the chance to direct Arnold Schwarzenegger's second film for 20th Century Fox, Predator (1987), which he accepted. He also directed Arnie in Last Action Hero (1993).
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After filming one scene, Arnold Schwarzenegger told Mark L. Lester to never give Vernon Wells a real knife.
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The shot of Matrix standing on the landing gear of the plane as it races down the runway was shot by constructing the wheel section of a plane and attaching it by hydraulics to the side of a camera truck.
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In the ITV broadcast and some versions of the film on DVD, the scene which Matrix kills Henriques by snapping his neck was cut. It cuts from Matrix elbowing Henriques in the face to Matrix putting the blanket over Henriques and putting his hat on his head. The editing makes it look as if Matrix killed Henriques instantly when he knocked him out with his elbow.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger stabbed himself with a knife and had to get stitches.
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The cut on Arnold Schwarzenegger's forehead in the beginning of the movie was real.
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The surplus store where Matrix picks up all the war toys during his night "shopping" was "Surplus City" in Sun Valley, California. A movie addition to the building (on the driveway) allowed for the secret room, where the machine guns and the other fun stuff was hidden. In the 1960's, this company had the largest collection of military surplus 'jeeps' and 'mighty mites' for sale in the US.
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Even with blanks in his gun, Dan Hedaya was afraid to shoot.
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Steven E. de Souza thought up Matrix's escape watching a flight attendant use an airplane elevator.
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Nick Nolte was the original choice for John Matrix, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast instead.
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The introduction to Matrix as he comes out of the forest, with close ups on his boots, chest, biceps etc was shot and edited in a similar fashion as Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda movies. According to director Mark L. Lester this was done to represent the notion of the invincible man of the earth emerging from the forest.
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This film came out the same year as the similarly-themed Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), starring Sylvester Stallone. Both films performed well at the box office, although Stallone's film was a much bigger hit and cultural/global phenomenon. The fact that Stallone and Schwarzenegger had competing films out in the same year fueled the "Stallone vs. Schwarzenegger" rivalry that went on for years, both with each other and in the media.
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Originally, the studio execs didn't want Arnold Schwarzenegger to talk at all in the movie. This would have been a real loss, as Arnold's hilarious one-liners would have been sorely missed.
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Alyssa Milano began working on the film after the television series Who's the Boss? (1984) finished filming its first season.
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Filming began on 4/22/85 and wrapped on 6/6/85 after 1 month, 6 weeks, or 45 days of filming.
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While filming, Arnold Schwarzenegger would run three to five miles a day and, of course, pump iron for an hour.
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In three alternate takes of Bennett's death scene, Matrix says different lines: "I hate small talk!"; "I think it was too much pressure for you, Bennett." and "Couldn't take the pressure, Bennett?"
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Arnold Schwarzenegger received a $2,000,000 salary for this film.
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The script went through numerous rewrites and writers. Larry Gross and Richard Tuggle were both attached to the project during production, but neither appear in the film's credits. Tuggle's name appeared on advance posters for the film, despite his omission from onscreen credits. Despite earlier reports of an initial $8 million budget, the $9 million picture was $3 million over budget, and revisions caused production delays of two or three days.
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A scene that was filmed, but cut, sees General Kirby arrive at the shopping mall following Matrix's rampage and tells the investigating police officer to reconsider going after Matrix. He warns the officer that Matrix was trained not to surrender and not go down without a fight and that the police force cannot stop him. The scene was included in the Director's Cut special features.
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Hearst Castle was the only beachfront location that would let the crew build a compound on it and then blow it up.
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Martial arts expert and fight choreographer Michael M. Vendrell worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger on the film, and, by the end of production, Vendrell estimated that Schwarzenegger had become a second degree black belt.
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At the beginning during the attack in his house, Matrix runs to the shed to get his gun. He punches in a security code to open the door. The code is 1 3 3, which is also the emergency number to call the police in Austria (Arnold's native Home)
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Vernon Wells stated in an interview that he had never heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to production on the film.
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Mark L. Lester called the film, " the quintessential eighties action film", and "granddaddy" of the genre.
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According to Commando: Let Off Some Steam (2007), the official number as to how many people Matrix kills is 81.
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Screenwriter Jeph Loeb originally wrote the script with the intention of having Gene Simmons play Matrix, but Simmons passed on it early in the developmental stage. Loeb then rewrote the script with Nick Nolte in mind as an out-of-condition former Commando. The storyline was to concern a special forces agent working in the Middle East who becomes sick of the continuous death and destruction. He leaves Israel, returns to the United States and retires, but he is then forced out of retirement after the kidnapping of his daughter.
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The seaplane used is registered N143DF which was a 1942 Grumman Goose. It was destroyed in a hangar fire in 1999.
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This is the second of three films in which Bill Paxton and Arnold Schwarzenegger worked together, the other two being The Terminator (1984) and True Lies (1994).
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The knives used by Matrix and Bennett in the fight at the end of the film were custom made for the movie by Texas knife expert Jack Crain.
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Shooting began on 22 April 1985 in Mt. Baldy, CA, before moving to the Los Angeles International Airport. A three-week night shoot took place in Long Beach and San Pedro, CA. The Sherman Oaks Galleria, in Sherman Oaks, CA, served as the film's shopping mall location, and was used for six days after 9pm, after stores closed. "Arius's" fortress was filmed in San Simeon, CA. There, with permission from the Hearst Corporation and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, a watchtower and five barracks were constructed, and subsequently blown up for the film's finale.
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Director Mark L. Lester initially wanted Raul Julia for the role of Arius, but producer Joel Silver insisted on casting Dan Hedaya. Writer Steven E. de Souza later wrote Street Fighter (1994), also his directorial debut and Julia starred in this film.
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The little red car that Cindy owns, and Arnie just about wrecks in the car chase scene, is a Sunbeam Alpine, a 1960s British sports car.
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The combat vest that Matrix wears is a real combat vest used by the Air Force's Parachute Unit. The vest was designed by Group 5, a combat clothing manufacturer from Texas who do not sell to the public.
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The 2005 Australian and New Zealand DVD edited and removed the following scenes, Although they were edited and removed from the DVD, the film still received the R18 rating in Australia, but the film was given the lower M mature rating in New Zealand despite some of the film's more graphic violent moments:
  • Matrix snapping Henriques neck.
  • Matrix questioning a dying Cooke about where Arius and Bennett are holding Jenny following the motel room fight
  • Matrix stabbing one of Arius's men in the chest with a pitchfork.
  • Slicing one of Arius's men's throat with a razor disc.
  • Stabbing one of Arius's men in the stomach with an axe and chopping off one of Arius's men's arm off with a machete in the shed battle.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger was transported to the hospital three times during the filming as he was performing many of his own stunts.
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Matrix goes into battle with an Valmet M78 light machine gun, an Uzi submachine gun, a Remington Model 870 combat shotgun and a Desert Eagle semi-automatic pistol. He also commandeers an M60E3 belt-fed machine gun and an M16A1 assault rifle.
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During Bennett's entrance at the docks, the fisherman on his boat greets him (via ADR) with "what do say, Wez?". Wez was the name of Vernon Wells' iconic character from The Road Warrior (1981).
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The film is inspired by DC Comics character Sgt. Rock, which star Arnold Schwarzenegger and producer Joel Silver had long attempted to make into a movie. Screenwriter Jeph Loeb had written for comics and gave Sgt. Rock's first name (Franklin) to General Kirby, and his middle name (John) to Matrix.
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The production shut down an entire terminal at Los Angeles International Airport to film.
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The scene where John Matrix & Cooke are fighting in the motel room, and they break into the room next door where there is a naked couple in bed, a video camera on a tripod can be seen on the far left pointed right at the bed.
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The terminal building of "Aeropuerto Val Verde" is the old terminal building of Long Beach airport (LGB)
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The crew built the motel from scratch on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in California.
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When he was cast as Bennett, Vernon Wells shaved his head and shaved off his beard for the role.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to do the movie because he wasn't playing a caveman nor a robot and wouldn't be walking around with no clothes on and that he would be playing a normal person.
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The final battle was filmed at the Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills, built by the famous silent film star. An intensely superstitious man Lloyd would never drive around the circular fountain at the front of the house, believing it would bring bad luck. In this film the villains drive around the fountain and suffer massive misfortune the next day when Matrix attacks them.
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The location of Matrix's home is somewhere near Mt Baldy. In the montage where John and his daughter are spending time together, they can be seen eating ice cream and sign in the background reads "Mt Baldy Snack Bar".
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Matrix says, "Wrong," when he shoots and kills Diaz. In The Terminator (1984), Arnold Schwarzenegger also says, "Wrong," when he shoots and kills the gun shop clerk.
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Vernon Wells later starred in the futuristic prison flick Fortress (1992), which takes place in 2017. Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally cast as the film's main protagonist John Brennick. Christopher Lambert was cast instead when Schwarzenegger passed on it to do Last Action Hero (1993). Had Schwarzenegger accepted, it would have made the first of two times that he played a prison inmate in the year 2017. The other was The Running Man (1987).
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After she worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger , Alyssa Milano's friends started calling her Conan.
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Predator (1987), reunited producer Joel Silver and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Duke, all of whom worked together on this film.
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Matrix's raid on the complex at the end of the film was shot on a beach in San Simeon, California, near William Randolph Hearst Castle. Originally, the scene was to be shot on Palos Verdes Peninsula in California, but two days before shooting, the US Coast Guard pulled the permits.
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Western Airlines was an actual airline. It was headquartered at Los Angeles International Airport and operated a second hub at Salt Lake City International Airport. In 1987, Delta Airlines acquired Western, and to this date still maintains a strong presence at LAX and SLC. After the acquisition, however, Delta sold off Western's fleet of McDonnell Douglas DC-10's (like the one seen in the film) because it already had a large fleet of Lockheed L-10ll TriStars.
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Along with the Rambo-franchise this movie was heavily parodied in Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) starring Charlie Sheen. The scene where Matrix prepares and arms himself for the final confrontation was parodied in National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (1993) starring Sheen's older brother Emilio Estevez.
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Patria Industries really exists. It's a company from Finland which produces armored modular vehicles, mortar systems and helicopters for military purposes.
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Feature film debut of Chelsea Field.
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Shooting of the film commenced on April 22, 1985.
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Director Mark L. Lester never met original writers Jeph Loeb and Matthew Weisman as they had already been replaced by Steven E. de Souza when Lester was hired.
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It was rumored Vernon Wells got the part of Bennett because of his performance as Wez in The Road Warrior (1981).
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Cooke tells John Matrix "Fuck you, asshole!" (see quotes) to which he replies, "Fuck YOU, asshole!" The same thing was said to Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator (1984) by one of the punks. The Terminator later said it to the cleaning man. A homeless woman says, "Fuck you, you asshole!" to him in Total Recall (1990).
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Both Bill Duke and Arnold Schwarzenegger would later star together in Predator (1987), which was also produced by Joel Silver.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone hated each other during this time. In the same year "Rambo: First blood part 2" (1985) came out, and it is no coincidence that when Cooke say's : "You scared, motherfucker? Well, you should be, because this Green Beret is going to kick your big ass"! and John Matrix says : "I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now, I'm very hungry"! This was geared towards Rambo, who is a Green Beret, and is the film's sly way of declaring that John Matrix is tougher than John Rambo.
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Chelsea Field, who played the flight attendant in the film, later went on to star opposite Dolph Lundgren in Masters of the Universe (1987) as Teela, and also in The Last Boy Scout (1991) as Joe Hallenbeck's (Bruce Willis) wife.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Duke both later went on to star in another 20th Century Fox action film titled Predator (1987) which they star as elite commandos whom are hunted by an extra terrestrial warrior for sport during a mission in the South American jungle.
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David Patrick Kelly referred to the film as "lousy."
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While John Matrix is reading about Boy George in a pop magazine he says "Why don't they just call him Girl George? It would cut down on the confusion". When Arnold took over the Celebrity Apprentice in season 15, Boy George was one of the contestants. Boy George made it to the finals of that show.
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When John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) are in the warehouse, John looks at a map and says, "these co-ordinates are somewhere near Santa Barbara". Audiences in Santa Barbara movie theaters cheered at the mention of their town.
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The only movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger & Bill Paxton that did not involve James Cameron.
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This movie shares four cast members with Action Jackson (1988): Bill Duke, Bob Minor, Branscombe Richmond and Charles Meshack.
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The mansion used in the final shootout between Matrix and Arius (the former Harold Lloyd estate in Beverly Hills) is the same mansion used for the Visitors' Embassy/Logation in V (1984).
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Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Duke really got along with each other during film and they would both star in Predator (1987).
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Chelsea Field's character is credited as "Western Flight Attendant" but she mentions that her name is Vicky right around the time that John Matrix fatally breaks Henriques' neck.
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The scene where John Matrix and Cindy depart to go "shopping" was filmed only ¾ mile (1.1Km) from the Mi-T Mart that got robbed in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982).
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The film was given the R18 rating in Australia for it's strong violence and profanity. But was given the M rating in New Zealand.
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This film has two things in common with The Running Man (1987). Both films were scripted by Steven E. de Souza.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a character who's due to fly but doesn't reach his destination.
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger gets hit in the face with a rifle butt, shown from his POV.
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One of only three Arnold Schwarzenegger films not directed by James Cameron where Bill Paxton makes an appearance.
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Although credited as "Western Flight Attendant", Chelsea Field's character's name is Debbie. She mentions her own name when giving the announcement. See quotes.
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The name of the main character is John Matrix. Producer Joel Silver later produced The Matrix (1999) and its sequels.
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This is the second Arnold Schwarzenegger film where he wears body paint. The other film was Conan the Barbarian (1982).
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Director Mark L. Lester said in a 2011 interview that producer Joel Silver asked him to direct the movie at a party at the Playboy Mansion.
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Arnie previously accused somebody of being wrong and shot them dead with a shotgun the year before in The Terminator.
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Rae Dawn Chong (Cindy) and Alyssa Milano (Jenny) appeared in different episodes of The Outer Limits (1995).
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This film influenced lots of other action packed films and video games later on.
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Mark L. Lester said in 2011 that in May of that year, he was flying back from Europe and met the head of Twentieth Century Fox. Lester had been trying to get the remake rights for Commando for some time, but he was wanting to make a sequel. He told the Fox guy, "I wanna buy the sequel rights. I'll pay $2 million." He asked why that film, and Lester said because there's websites dedicated to it, there's a huge fanbase, people know every line in the movie. Three days later, Fox announced a remake of the film.
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Oliver Harper did a Retrospective Review of the movie in February 2022.
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An extract from a Radio Times review by John Ferguson describes the approach the director took to Commando (1985) as follows: "Mark L. Lester is a no-frills director and his set pieces pack an explosive punch."
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This movie has two filming locations in common with Valley Girl (1983):
  • When John Matrix & Cindy are following sully, the car comes up towards the camera and makes a left (right from the audience POV). This is the same location and even camera angle as the scene where the fab four are leaving the party in Valley Girl and are going out on the town.
  • The scene where Cooke helps himself to a free Cadillac by killing the salesman was filmed only ¼ mile (½Km) from Julie Richman's (the title character) parents health food restaurant.
See filming locations & Google Maps for both films.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted the role of John Matrix cos he didn't have to play a barbarian or a robot.
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Gene Simmons was originally envisioned to play John Matrix.
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Casa De Cadillac, where Cooke helps himself to a free Cadillac was filmed only ¼ mile (½Km) from Julie's parents' health food restaurant in Valley Girl (1983). Also, when John Matrix & Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong) are chasing Sully (David Patrick Kelly) they go through the same intersection (Beverly Glen & Mulholland Drive) as Julie, Stacey, Randy and Fred do when they are leaving the party (after Fred and Randy went back for Julie and Stacey).
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The scene where Cindy rescues John Matrix from the paddy wagon was filmed only ½ mile (800 meters) north of a scene in Monk: Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa (2005). This film stars Dan Hedaya (who plays the deposed dictator who has John Matrix daughter abducted). He also appeared in another episode of Monk: As Adrian Monk's father in Monk: Mr. Monk Meets His Dad (2006). See filming locations and Google Maps for both.
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Trailer narrated by Hal Douglas.
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This is the second movie Arnold was in in 1985 first being red Sonja.
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In the opening credits sequence, Jenny sticks her ice cream in Matrix's face. Ironically, 2 years after the movie's release, Arnold Schwarzenegger played the supervillain Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin (1997). In that movie, Mr. Freeze's hideout is an abandoned ice cream factory.
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The scene where Cindy uses the rocket launcher was filmed only ¾ mile (1.1Km) from a scene in T.J. Hooker: To Kill a Cop (1985)(#5.3) which aired only five (5) days after this film's release.
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A scene that was filmed, but deleted saw General Kirby at the shopping mall following Matrix's rampage which he speaks to the investigating officer about Matrix and advises him to not go after him and that Matrix was trained to not let anyone stand in his way of completing his mission and that Matrix is a "hurricane".
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Although Bill Paxton and Arnold would star in more movies together, Paxton went on to star in Predator 2 (1990) the sequel to Arnold's hit movie Predator (1987).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Just after Matrix plants the claymore mines, he is seen shooting a knife into a guard's stomach. The knife he used is a Russian Ballistic knife that uses a spring to launch the knife blade out of the handle.
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In the prologue, it was originally scripted for Diaz (Gary Carlos Cervantes), not Cooke (Bill Duke), to steal the car and kill the salesman.
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It's never explained how Bennett got off his boat when Cooke detonates and blows it up at the beginning of the movie when Bennett fakes his own death.
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Originally it was scripted that the movie would end with Bennett fleeing from the island on a speedboat with Jenny which Matrix chases after them and Matrix and Bennett would engage other in hand to hand combat on a beach. However, it was dropped due to the production running out of money and it was changed to Matrix and Bennett fighting in a crammed basement which was improvised by Mark l. Lester.
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Arius's death almost mirrors the death of Tony Montana in Scarface (1983).
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In the Mansion Shootout scene, Matrix shoots Arius 4 times in the upper torso with his pump action rifle.
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In Commando, Arnold Schwarzenegger shoots a grenade launcher. He would go on to do the same thing in Predator.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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