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No Holds Barred Movie Review
Directed by Thomas J. Wright
Written by Dennis Hackin
Release Date: 2 June 1989
Running Time: 93 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Editorís Rating: FOUR OUT OF FOUR STARS, BROTHER!
The late 1980s was a golden age for wrestling. I was a mere four years old when this film came out, so I have no memory of it. But I do remember Hulk Hogan. He was a giant behemoth of a man, larger than life on the TV that I still controlled with a couple of knobs embedded on the side of the set. Watching him take on greats like ďMacho ManĒ Randy Savage, Jake ďThe SnakeĒ Roberts, and The Ultimate Warrior was like watching Godzilla take on Ghidorah - all bets were out the window and the fate of my little world was in the balance. I needed to see Hulk win. Because if he lost, then America lost. The greatest hero in the world would have lost. And I might have thought that evil had the power to triumph over 22-inch pythons.
Say it ainít so.
Now, I was only three when this movie came out, so I never heard of it until recently. However, I had seen other movies with the Hulkster in them, namely Suburban Commando. So when this film was brought to my attention, I knew within the first five minutes of it that I needed to talk about it. This is a movie that embodies that Vonnegut-esque outlook I had about wrestling back in the day, a time when body slams and suplexes were beautiful and nothing hurt (when they landed). When supermen clashed with supermen in the most raucous and theatrical way possible, grunting and groaning as they struggled to assert dominance.
Did I mention I like Jane Goodall, too?
But back to the film. Hulk Hogan is Rip, the man with no last name. Star of the World Wrestling Federation, he is pressured to come wrestle for a man named Brell and his organization, the World Television Network. Being a faithful and loyal guy, Rip declines. Unfortunately, thatís where things start to get ugly, as Brell uses his cronies to try and muscle Rip into converting.
Iím going to stop here and deconstruct the last paragraph, because it actually sounds like what happens in movies sometimes. However, this is No Holds Barred, and No Holds Barred is so much more than a movie. Itís a trainwreck. A glorious, glorious trainwreck. One that if I was clinically depressed and on the edge of suicide, I would watch again and again until my stomach caved in from laughter, realizing that I was put on this earth to celebrate the name of Rip. To revel in his overly macho absurdities and the cheesiness of his one-liners that only make sense to the people he interacts with, because theyíve drank the Kool-Aid as well. To uncontrollably giggle at the way Rip seems to overcome adversity by hyperventilating and bugging his eyes, and how he reacts to stimuli in his environment by not just grunting, but by pursing his lips and exhaling, like an overly amorous chimpanzee.
Remember when I called Rip the man with no last name? Well, That was a lie. No one in this film has a last name, other than cameos from other well-known wrestling personalities like ďMeanĒ Gene Okerlund or Jesse Ventura.
I always find it odd that I never saw the ďMeanĒ in Mean Gene. I always wanted to rub his head and give his mustache a quick combing in a therapeutic fashion, the way a mother runs her hand through her newborn babyís hair, because thatís what I think Mean Geneís mustache must feel like.
Damnit, I got distracted by that puppy dog Mean Gene once again, when I told myself I wasnít going to let it happen. Sorry. Back to the story, folks.
Right, so no one in the film has a last name, and itís probably better for it. No one will want to be tracked down to answer for this. Except maybe Brell. Brell is the villain of this movie like a train running over someone is a weight loss method. Played by Kurt Fuller, a man who plays pretty much the same role in any movie heís in, has reached his slimy, antagonistic peak here. Brell is a character who takes every single stereotype about a nasty network executive and then adds a twist of sociopath to it for no reason, despite the fact that all of his actions are easily traceable to him, and on any sane plane of existence would get him and his entire organization shut down and thrown into prison. But this is a world where no holds are barred, and no logic is left un-borked.
Speaking of logic borking, itís time to speak about the last and most outrageous piece of this No Holds Barred puzzle: Zeus. A man so intense one of his eyes lost focus and instead looks inward to focus his rage. A man so dedicated to his name that no, he does not wear a toga. No, he has not named any of his moves after thunder and/or lightning. No, he does not speak Greek. What has he done to incorporate his name into his image? Shave Zís into the side of his head, of course. He also gave himself a unibrow and shaved half of his right eyebrow off, so I guess that kinda looks like a lowercase cursive Z? I mean, whatever. He grunts, he screams, and he acts like he kills things while wearing the stupidest outfits imaginable.
Heís got some kind of back story told to us by a person seemingly introduced just to spout exposition. Supposedly he killed someone in the ring and was released before his time was up, but weíre never given a reason why someone so obviously psychotic would have ever been given an early release. Maybe the parole board was a bunch of deaf-blind people.
So after a series of overtly-illegal events, including kidnapping, assault, attempted murder, domestic abuse, and botulism (probably), Rip is finally forced to confront Zeus in a battle that Vince McMahon, owner of the WWF, would never actually allow in real life: a no-rules, battle-to-the-finish showdown. Sounds right up his alley, right? Well, you would be correct, except for one little thing - itís happening on someone elseís network. No way that would ever happen in a million years. People can kill themselves, but it better be happening on Poppa Vinceís show.
In the end, Zeus is defeated, Brell is electrocuted in the least believable way possible, and Rip is still beloved by millions as a man of the people, and a kicker of peopleís butts. Yay.
This movie. Wow, this movie. When I reached the end, I truly believed I needed to stand and a applaud, because I have never seen anything more nonsensical, more pandering, and more contrived than this film. But what can you expect when a literal "Hack" wrote this movie? Donít believe me? It's right there at the top folks, read Ďem and weep tears of laughter. This is a quintessential Hulk Hogan movie, because it is literally Hulk Hogan being Hulk Hogan for an hour and a half and loving every minute of it.
Itís like babyís first movie. Like watching a bunch of six-year-olds doing a Christmas Play while from the pews, their parents cheer them on. And you know what? By the time itís all over, you stand up with the rest of the parents forced to watch this pile and and applaud after itís all said and done. Because thereís nothing left to do but revel in the unparalleled insanity you just witnessed. You have looked into the abyss, and it has stared back at you, its lazy eye and awkward monobrow growling and screaming, driving you mad...
AND THEN ALL THATíS LEFT IS THE RAGE, BROTHER! ITíS TIME TO GET OUT THERE AND WIN! WIN IT ALL! WIN EVERYTHING! TAKE NO PRISONERS AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, LEAVE NO HOLDS BARRED!
**I SAW THIS MOVIE ON NETFLIX BROTHER! I PAID FOR IT MYSELF! NOBODY PAID ME NOTHINí FOR THIS REVIEW, JACK, I DO IT FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME! AWW YEAAAHHHH!!!**
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