Fred Williamson returns in the titular role in this follow up to the derivative, low-budget Italian answer to COBRA. This time around, Chicago cop Malone shoots one too many criminals dead, so he's sent to the Philippines to holiday – except he instead gets involved in a kidnap plot involving a valuable bit of micro film and a gang of international terrorists, all when his wallet is stolen at the airport! BLACK COBRA 2 doesn't have one single film to slavishly follow as did the original film in this series, so it's more open and just as fun, with inspiration coming from all over the place. It's still derivative, low budget and cheesy, but boy is it a lot of fun too!
One of the things I enjoyed about this film was the Filipino setting. All the time I see movies shot in the Philippines where the cheap-to-shoot location is used as a stand-in for a more expensive locale: typically Vietnam, but any one of a dozen Asian countries at times. Not so BLACK COBRA 2. From the very beginning it makes a virtue of being set in the Philippines, so realism is a little stronger than most. Plus, real-life locations like the Manila Gardens Hotel are able to be put to good use, something we don't usually see.
Much of the fun in this film comes from the 50-odd Fred Williamson, still acting and doing the kind of stunts we'd expect from a man twenty years younger, although a stand-in occasionally replaces him here. Williamson is as hard-assed as ever, with lots of wonderful dialogue and a greater number of hand-to-hand combat situations with the bad guys here than in the first film. As an actor he's more relaxed while at the same time putting in more of an effort than he did in the first. This time he teams up with '70s SPIDER-MAN star Nicholas Hammond, and sparks fly as the two work together in LETHAL WEAPON-style buddy/buddy exchanges. I could have done without Emma Hoagland's extended nightclub routine, but the rest of the cast are stock Filipino extras, including a briefly-seen Mike Monty right at the end. Watch out for the little blond boy whose voice is dubbed by an older woman! While the plot is as nonsensical and non-existent as ever, this film seems to have a greater number of action scenes, all of which are extended. We're re-introduced to Williamson as he puffs and pants, chasing a crim through the Chicago streets before blowing apart his helmet's visor in one cool slow-mo shot. After that it's business as usual, with laboured fist-fights (Williamson's "karate" is a real hoot, all posturing and hot air), gun battles and bloody squib shots everywhere.
I really liked the cheesy action in this film, which goes way over the top; watch out for the extreme slow motion shots of Williamson in a couple of instances, which totally cracked me up. The film's ending seems to have been inspired by DIE HARD, which must have been released around the time of this film. It sees our heroes tackling a high-rise building where terrorists are holding schoolchildren (?!) hostage. With Williamson as the cigar-chomping, leather trousers-wearing indestructible hero, this is pure '80s schlock, nothing more, nothing less. Roll on BLACK COBRA 3, the next release in the surprisingly popular series.