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No Holds Barred (1989)

DVD Cover (WWE Home Video)
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5.0
 / 10
1 vote
Genres:
Action, Drama, Sports Drama, Wrestling
Director:
Thomas J. Wright Thomas J. Wright
Starring:
Hulk Hogan Hulk Hogan
Joan Severance Joan Severance
Kurt Fuller Kurt Fuller
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister Tommy 'Tiny' Lister
Mark Pellegrino Mark Pellegrino
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 06, 2007
There are some films that go above and beyond the title 'masterpiece'. There are some films that do more for the cinematic community than any Lifetime Achievement Award or Honorary Oscar. There are some films that have cemented themselves amongst the pantheon of modern day classics. One such film is "No Holds Barred". When it was released in 1989, no one could have expected the windstorm of success. The film grossed $200 million dollars stateside and close to $700 million worldwide. It raked up a Best Actor nomination for Terry 'Hulk' Hogan and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jesse 'The Body' Ventura. Before his death, actor Jimmy Stewart had the privilege to see the film and called it -- "the best motion picture experience of a life time". It also produced quite possibly the most quoted catch phrase in the history of the American film industry -- "Rip'Em!"

Now -- if you believed any of that, you've obviously never seen "No Holds Barred".

This was Hulk Hogan's first lead role in a feature film and it was released to capitalize on the enormous success he had achieved in the world of wrestling. It was produced by Vince McMahon and released by the production company New Line Cinema. Terry 'Hulk' Hogan stars as Rip, the World Wrestling Federation champion, a man who is good to the fans that love him and loyal to the company that employs him. He's an all around sports icon who does what he can to make the world a better place. However, a man named Brell (Kurt Fuller) has just been named the President of the World Television Network and wants Rip to wrestle for his station. Rip refuses. In an attempt to lure Rip, Brell creates a 'Battle of the Tough Guys' event, where he unleashes Zeus (Tommy Lister) on the world, an immediate rival for Rip. The film continues, as Brell's attempts to lure Rip continue to fail, until they do the one thing they shouldn't -- injure Rip's brother, Randy (Mark Pellegrino). Now, it's personal.

Whereas "Over the Top" was about a trucker arm wrestling for the love of his son, "No Holds Barred" is more like a wrestler wrestling for the love of himself. This entire film was designed to give Hulk Hogan ninety minutes in which to shake his head and stare down his opponent; to dance horribly to theme music; and to flex his muscles in an onslaught of interesting ways. Hogan has no real talent for the craft of acting, but evidently thought it would be a good idea to try, especially some of the most wrenching scenes, with his brother. Kurt Fuller is hilariously over the top as Brell, the head of the rival network -- and his death scene makes me want to keep rewinding and then playing it over and over again, just because I can't believe what I am seeing. And, then there's Zeus. This film actually started a wrestling career for the guy who would go on to star in "Friday" -- Tommy Lister, Jr. "No Holds Barred", however, is not a film about performances. It's a film about...well...a fake sport. So, I guess that makes it better? Maybe? Possibly?

When I was eight, I loved this film. I also loved wrestling back then. Now, I watch this film and just laugh. It is the perfect example of how Hollywood has to capitalize on EVERYTHING, no matter how ridiculous. And, if history has taught us anything, it's that wrestling films down sell. Movies with wrestlers as their stars don't sell, and no I don't consider The Rock part of that list. He has grown into an actual actor. I guess the worst thing about "No Holds Barred" is that it made just enough money not to be a disaster, thus bringing on this wave of films for Hogan -- "Mr. Nanny", "Suburban Commando", "Thunder In Paradise". It gave him a career that he really didn't deserve. "No Holds Barred" is goofy fun and worth watching only for how much it will make you laugh when you know they weren't expecting you to laugh. Otherwise, it's not for everyone. 6/10.
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