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Sly Stallone explains why his Cobra is very different to Dirty Harry

In an interview from 1986, Stallone was asked to respond to those who thought he was copying Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry by making his own cop movie Cobra.

Sylvester Stallone in Cobra

It is somewhat surprising to learn that Sylvester Stallone came close to starring in Beverly Hills Cop, with a script that he personally revised to be more serious and action-orientated. It would have been a very different movie to the Eddie Murphy comedy, but Stallone ended up using a lot of that material for his 1986 cop action movie Cobra. When it was coming out, the press made another comparison – to Dirty Harry – saying that Sylvester Stallone was just trying to make his version of the Clint Eastwood cop movies.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune in 1986, Stallone said “That [Dirty Harry] was a terrific film, and I even cast this film with some of the same actors who have been in the Dirty Harry series. The big difference between the films is that Dirty Harry was about a single killer; Cobra is about a guy fighting an organized group of killers.”

The first Dirty Harry movie was based on Detective Toschi and the San Francisco police department’s investigation of the Zodiac serial killer. Toschi was also the inspiration for Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, and was portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in David Fincher‘s Zodiac. Stallone’s Cobra was not well reviewed, but did well at the box office, and is now considered something of a cult classic.

Stallone further explained Cobra; ”The premise of the film is that there is a new breed of criminal out there that enjoys killing and is not being stopped. It`s like that breed of ‘super rats’ you’re always reading about. There’s no motive for the police to track; so what`s required is a guy like Cobra, who uses unorthodox methods.”

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Elsewhere in the interview, Stallone gets very upset at Rambo being marketed to children, with action figures and even a cartoon. He also interestingly says; ”I don’t see myself making movies when I’m 60 years old. I see myself subsidizing films, producing films. I see myself as very much in transition now. I’m winding down.” Stallone is now 77-years-old, and still acting in both movies and a TV series – something he probably never imagined doing.

Check out our guide to the best detective movies and the best action movies. You can also find out how to watch the Rocky movies in order and see what we think are the best 80s movies.