Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982)

hunters-of-the-golden-cobra-posterCountry: Italy
Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
Starring: David Warbeck | John Steiner| Almanta Suska | Luciano Pigozzi
Writers: Tito Carpi | Gianfranco Couyoumdjian
Music: Carlo Savina

Raiders of the Lost Ark was such a success many imitators followed in its wake, which if you think about it, is only right, because Raiders itself was an imitation of the old cliff-hanger adventure serials of the 1940s (along with other adventure movies). You only have to look at The Secret of the Incas, starring Charlton Heston, to see where Indiana Jones got his look. But Raiders had several things its imitators didn’t have – a decent budget, great actors, first class production values, and Steven Spielberg at the helm.

Hunters of the Golden Cobra was directed by Antonio Margheriti – under his Anthony M. Dawson pseudonym. I like Margheriti. As always, he puts it all out there, doing the best he can with the budget he’s been allocated. The models used in this production are decent (better than most CGI) and the special effects are quite okay too. Unfortunately, Hunters of the Golden Cobra has a script that you wouldn’t wrap fish ‘n’ chips in. The plot holes are large enough to swallow the Starship Cygnus. However, Margheriti keeps the action coming thick and fast, so most viewers will barely have time to catch their breath, let alone analyze the nonsensical plot.

The movie teams David Warbeck and John Steiner – who would work together again with Margheriti on Ark of the Sun God – as two soldiers assigned the task of locating the Golden Cobra, a relic, which if it falls into the wrong hands could change the political face of Asia forever.

Warbeck plays a cynical American named Bob Jackson, and Steiner plays David Frank, a stiff-upper-lip Brit, who laughs in the face of danger. Joining them on the quest is archaeologist Professor Greenwater (Luciano Pigozzi), and his niece, Julia (Almanta Suska). Julia has an ulterior motive to join the jungle quest, as she is trying to locate her twin sister, who disappeared as a child many years earlier.

As a Raiders ripoff, the film features all the setpieces you’d expect – large hairy spiders, snake pits, jungle tribes with blowdarts, numerous hair-breadth escapes, and some mystical mumbo-jumbo at the end. And of course, all of this is punctuated with a lot of explosions and machinegun fire.

So is Hunters of the Golden Cobra a good film? In a word, no. The villain is uninspired and the attempts at humor fall falt. Add this to the aforementioned script, and you get a film that is … a mess, really. But the film has a rough-hewn charm that may appeal to fans of Antonio Margheriti and trash cinema. Others beware.

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