30 years ago this week, 20th Century Fox released Commando, a B-movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that’s so much fun you wonder why anyone would bother making an A-movie. A remarkable number of people are killed in the film, most at the hands of Schwarzenegger. Some of those killed were named, others were nameless. Some deaths precipitated one-liners, others went unremarked upon. Some deaths were elaborate, others were simple.
As we memorialize the film (Schwarzenegger’s finest, in my opinion), I thought we should also take time to remember all of the characters whose deaths helped make it so great.
Kill 1, one of John Matrix’s unit mates. Time of death: 1 minute and 56 seconds into the movie.
Famous Last Words: “I was afraid you’d miss me,” to a pair of bad guys disguised as garbage men.
One liner: “Don’t worry, we won’t.” (Said by Cooke, a Green Beret gone bad).
His girlfriend always wondered why he went to put out the garbage cans and never came back.
Kill 2, a slimy Cadillac salesman trying to sell Cooke a car. Time of death: 3 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “Take it from me, you don’t want leather, brother. Leather’s hot, it’s uncomfortable, it cracks. … Wait a minute! You can’t drive that car in here! Whoa! Whoa!”
One liner: “You know what like best about it? The price.” (Before running over the salesman and crashing through the showroom window).
Vinyl lost its last and greatest champion that day.
Kill 3, a random Army guy sent to protect John Matrix’s previously idyllic cabin, brutally cut down by sniper bullets. Time of death, 12 minutes.
All he wanted was to help.
Kill 4, the other army guy sent to protect John Matrix. Slashed across the neck after failing to smell the bad guys coming like John Matrix did. Time of death, 13 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “‘Downwind?’ You think I can smell them coming?”
He couldn’t smell them coming.
Kill 5, the bad guy who killed the two Army guys, who thought he could negotiate with John Matrix by kidnapping his daughter. Time of death, 13 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “If you want your kid back, you’d better cooperate, right?”
His fatal mistake was thinking John Matrix negotiates with terrorists.
Kill 6, Sully’s partner in the Hawaiian shirt and pith helmet, Henriques. Sent to accompany John Matrix to Val Verde, he gets a pro wrestling-style elbow to the face and bulldog choke-style neck break. Time of death, 22 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “Open your mouth again, and I’ll nail it shut.”
One Liner: “Don’t disturb my friend; he’s dead tired.”
His dream was to go to Val Verde. He got there, eventually.
Kill 7, 8, the Val Verde henchman Sully was meeting and a cop. They shot each other in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, the henchman falling off a bannister with a briefcase full of cash. Time of death, 36 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “This used to be a great place for huntin’ slash.”
Kill 9, a Galleria security guard who Sully shot in the chest. Time of death, 36 minutes.
He just wanted to make sure Rae Dawn Chong was okay.
Kill 10, Sully, after John Matrix holds him up by one ankle and then drops him head first off a cliff. Time of death, 41 minutes.
Famous Last Words: (In response to, “Hey, Sully, remember when I said I’d kill you last?”) “That’s right, Matrix, you did!”
One Liner: “I lied.”
He just wanted to hunt some slash.
Kill 11, Cooke, after John Matrix throws him through a hotel room screen by his balls, and then kicks him onto an upturned coffee table that impales him through the chest. Presumably fatally. All while Rae Dawn Chong and a naked lady with giant implants looked on in horror. Time of death, 47 minutes.
Famous Last Words: “This Green Beret is gonna kick your ass.”
One Liner: “I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now I’m very hungry.”
He always wanted to drive a Cadillac.
Kill 12, 13, two bad guys who tried to stop John Matrix and Rae Dawn Chong from stealing a sea plane. Matrix shot them in the chest with a sub machine gun and they crashed their Jeep off the dock. Time of death, one hour.
Not a single one of their bullets hit the plane. Also, who drives a Jeep on a dock? They were too sweet for this world.
Kill 14, a Val Verdian henchman, via a hunting knife to the sternum. Time of death, one hour 10 minutes.
At least he went quickly.
Kill 15, another Val Verdian henchman, via hunting knife across the throat. Time of death, one hour 10.
He would be remembered as Arnold’s most graphic kill up until that point.
Kill 16, 17, two more Val Verdian henchmen, via a simultaneous, two-handed knife throw. Time of death, one hour 10.
How could they have known John Matrix was an ambidextrous knife thrower?
Kill 18, Val Verdian henchman, via… a spear gun? Time of death, one hour 10.
One Liner: “Come está?”
Estaba perfectly bien until John Matrix showed up.
Kill 19, fat henchman in the tower, via machine gun. Time of death, one hour 10.
He went to hell knowing that at least he made John Matrix use a gun to kill him.
Kill 19, 20, two Val Verdian henchmen running out a barracks. Matrix kills them with his rifle, from about 10 feet away. Time of death, one hour 10.
They were just trying to enjoy their lunch.
Kill 21, 22. Two more henchman from behind the barracks. Time of death, one hour 10.
They liked to hang out back there some times.
Kill 23, 24. Two more Val Verdian henchmen who were standing in front of the barracks when John Matrix blew it up with a claymore. Filmed from eight different angles. Time of death, one hour 11.
Famous Last Words, One-Liner: None, but upon hearing the noise, Bennett mutters “Welcome back, John. … So glad you could make it.”
In HD we discovered they were actually just mannequins being held up with sticks. R.I.P.
Kill 25 – 28. Four more henchmen who bit it in the explosion. Time of death, one hour 11.
They all wanted to be the guy who shot John Matrix.
Kill 29, another Val Verdian henchmen in a bucket head hat, via about 22 bullets. Time of death, one hour 12.
“Isn’t this getting a little gratuitous?” wondered the family.
Kill 30 – 33, four more henchmen in a Jeep. John Matrix shot their wheels with a rocket launcher. Time of death, one hour 12.
They were going to crash even if they hadn’t exploded.
Kill 34, a henchman chasing John Matrix. Time of death, one hour 13.
He always wanted to die with grass under his boots.
Kill 35, 36, more henchmen on the lawn of the Val Verdian villa, via chain-fed machine gun. Time of death, one hour 13.
They died bravely charging a guy holding a chain-fed machine gun at waist height.
Kill 37 – 43, more henchmen on the lawn via machine gun. Time of death, one hour 13.
They wanted to avenge their friends.
Kill 44, unfortunate henchman at brutally close range via machine gun. Time of death, one hour 13.
Kill 45, another on the lawn. Time of death, one hour 13.
Kill 46, 47, two more Val Verdian henchman on the lawn with a grenade. Time of death, one hour 13.
They made John Matrix waste a grenade, and for that, they were heroes. Remembered for their impressive acrobatic skills.
Kill 48, 49, two more Val Verdian guys with mustaches (possibly the same actor) on the lawn. Time of death, one hour 13.
Kill 51, 52, two more guys behind a planter with a grenade. Time of death, one hour 13.
They were just trying to smell the flowers.
Kill 53, henchman on a fountain at close range with a sub machine gun. Time of death, one hour 13.
Kill 54 – 63, various henchmen via grenade, sub machine gun, pistol, and shotgun. Time of death, one hour 13.
Where was he even carrying that shotgun? At least one can say he died in super slow motion.
Kill 64, 65, two more henchmen via pump shotgun blasts to the stomach, which makes them fly up in the air. Time of death, one hour 14.
They always wanted to learn to fly.
Kill 66, the first Val Verdian henchman to enter the shed where they had cornered John Matrix and shot it with 17 trillion bullets. Emerging from his hiding place, John Matrix killed him with a pitch fork to the gut. Sound effect is a bizarre “thwack.” Time of death, one hour 15.
Famous Last Words: “Go look!” (in Spanish)
How could he have known John Matrix was hiding in the rafters? Since when do gardening sheds even have rafters?
Kill 67, 68 two henchmen unlucky enough to be hit by the saw blades John Matrix throws like ninja stars, one to the scalp, one in the chest. Time of death, one hour 15.
Kill 69, via underhanded axe chop to the groin. Time of death, one hour 15.
His tombstone: “Ouch!”
Kill 70, a henchman who gets his arm chopped off by John Matrix. We have to assume he bled out. Time of death, one hour 15.
He almost got Matrix.
Kill 71, 72, John Matrix has a belt-fed machine gun again. Time of death, one hour 15.
Kill 73-87, after miraculously finding cover behind rose bushes, Matrix wastes about 14 more guys with the belt-fed machine gun. Time of death, one hour 16.
Famous Last Words: Untelligible yelled Spanish.
Come on, what kind of cover is a rose bush?
Kill 88, Arius, the deposed dictator of Val Verde, via four shotgun blasts to the chest on the second floor of his own villa. Time of death, one hour 19.
Famous Last Words: “Kill the girl.”
One Liner: You’d think there’d be a one-liner for this one, considering Arius is one of the main bad guys. But instead, Matrix stares like he’s going to say something and then doesn’t. You know how when guys wear a collared shirt buttoned all the way to the top underneath a suit with no tie, and that’s called an “air tie?” I consider this an air one-liner.
Kill 89, Bennett. Matrix goads him into a knife fight in the furnace room, and, after tussling around with him for a few minutes, electrocutes him, which seems to just make him angry, then throws him against a wall and impales him through the chest with a giant pipe that Matrix hurled like a javelin. Just as he was cocking his Uzi and preparing to shoot John “between the balls.” Time of death, one hour 24.
Famous Last Words: “You’re getting old, John.” “John, I feel good! Just like old times!” “What’s it feel like to be a dying man!” “You’re a dead man, John!” “John, I’m not gonna shoot you between the eyes. I’m gonna shoot you between the balls!!”
One-liner (s): “Bulll sh*t!”, “Let off some steam, Bennett.”
The final kill of Commando, he truly died doing what he loved. In fact, he seemed to derive sexual pleasure from fighting John Matrix.
Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.