Friday, March 5, 2010


Here it is finally... a month late but fake dated to fit with everything else! I rule. For me the summation of wrestling movies of my youth and marked exactly what the genre and professional wrestling itself at the time had become....

Original Title: No Holds Barred
Year: 1989
DirectorThomas J. Wright
WriterDennis Hackin
Genre: Wrestling

Synopsis: Rip is the World Wrestling Federation champion who is faithful to his fans and the network he wrestles for. Brell, the new head of the World Television Network, wants Rip to wrestle for his network. Rip refuses and goes back to his normal life. Still looking for a way to raise ratings, Brell initiates a show called "The Battle of the Tough Guys", a violent brawling competition. A mysterious man, Zeus, wins the competition. This gets Brell to use him as an angle to get at Rip.

Oh my fuggin Jesus it's NO HOLDS fuggin BARRED.

Yes, I realize that this is not a great movie. But so many people, males particularly I will assume, who are around my age (early-mid 30s) will have some sort of attachment to this movie as well as professional wrestling because it was so huge in the mid- to late-1980s.

No Holds Barred is a pretty crappy film that to me beautifully illustrates SO many 80s movie conventions. It combines professional wrestling with 80s film greatest hits, and just turns into a ball of fun for the right audience.

Before I write more, I want to give credit to -RoG- of His awesome post about no Holds Barred is hilarious and filled with awesome animated gifs that I am at the same time too dumb to create myself and very jealous of. I am using some of them here in my review, and wanted to make sure to point you in the right direction. His review is more of a summary, so beware of spoilers, but if you have watched even a handful of 1980s action movies, No Holds Barred is virtually unspoilable.

Hulk Hogan plays Rip, WWF World Heavyweight Champion, flawed hero, and super stylish fashion god. He looks to be 40 with a 20 year old brother. (Oops!)

He likes French food.

He RIPS his clothing (LOLGETIT???).

He's a ladies man with a soft side, loved by kids.

He rides a sweet hog.

He hates the interior of cars and mirrors.

He can jump through metal.

He slobbers like a rabid ape.

Get this guy a bib, indeed.

Hogan's performance is hilarious on many levels. He snarls and winces and screams and even chuckles a few times. If you've ever seen a Hogan match in your life and have not seen this movie, you are pretty much prepared for what is contained within. Just like in wrestling world, Hogan can go from zero to pissed and back again in no time.

The anger scenes are standard faire, but seeing Hogan laugh and even make out a little bit was just a little strange. And holy hell, when you see him cry you'll feel the embarrassment in the bottom of your ballsack (or equivalent area). I mean, I know the guy does this stuff in real life, but he wasn't approaching realism in portraying them here.

At least his wardrobe is second to none. The deep-V is out in full effect. The highly inexplicable short shorts that go along with his sliced up shirt.

This is the second review in a row where I have put a yellow circle around a dude's bottom!

This bastard even sports an orange speedo that make his normal tight wrestling trunks look like your granny's control top undergarment. HOT!

The crying scene may be awkward... but if it doesn't leave you without a new undying desire for LACE UP FINGERLESS GLOVES, then you have no goddamn soul.


Shit, even the tassles on his do-rag match!

Hulk Hogan was pretty good on the mic back in his prime. As a kid I was certainly inspired by his Whatcha gonna do's and his 24-inch Pythons runnin' wild, but now for me, Hulk's sweaty charisma really doesn't carry over as well. Possibly when his performance isn't in front of thousands of screaming fans it just loses its luster, although like his matches, you'll see every twist and turn coming from a mile away.

I gotta say I was disappointed to see no famous Hogan leg drop, but he did use the running double axe handle  which was kindasomewhatmaybe like his finisher the Axe Bomber when wrestling in Japan, so that was kindasomewhatmaybe cool.

Then we come to the main villain in the movie. I suppose Kurt Fuller as Brell really is the main main villain, but who honestly knows anything about No Holds Barred that would not say the name ZEUS if not first, then at least second when naming people in here. Tom 'Tiny' Lister has made quite the enduring and endearing career as the huge googly eyed  tough guy, but I for one really believe that this is the high point. Some may argue Deebo from Friday, but I will remind you that he is actually credited as Tiny Zeus Lister, Jr. in that movie! EVEN HE KNEW WHAT WAS UP.

Maxim magazine hilariously named Zeus their #9 Awesomest Loser in Sports Movie History.

And how badass is it to get a fucking nickname like Zeus just from playing a sadistic and evidently mentally challenged no-rules wrestler in a shitty 80s flick? Color me jealous.

Pickleloaf, or Loaf, just doesn't instill any fear, at least not for the right reasons, but at least I'm pretty sure I can kick Zeus' ass in a mustache battle!

Loaf 1 - Zeus 0, baby!

Lister says almost nothing at all except RAAAAAAHHHHHHHH in the whole movie but still becomes a legend. Incredible. He wears armor including big metal cuffs, a chainmail tank top, and giant aluminum foil shoulder pads. Amazing. He has a Z of hair over his ear and a V of unibrow over his face. Marvelous.

Zeus is so badass in the most boring way possible. In wrestling world he would make a shitty damn performer. Oh wait, what's that? Oh yeah... he did make a shitty performer. As only Vince McMahon can, he put poor Lister in the ring when this film was out, the professionals surely scrambling to cover up his shortcomings. I will never forget seeing Zeus preventing Hogan from entering the classic big blue cage on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. His head twist neck snap move was fucking devastating!

No one stands up to this motherfucker. While Rip is being a pussy and taking care of his injured brother Randy (Mark Pellegrino - or Jacob for all you Lost fans!), Zeus trains for the big match by whipping the snot out of cinder blocks. This is perhaps even better than the Russians in Bad Guys training with Vodka and 19th century dumbbells.

This block is probably made out of oatmeal and sand, but I don't fucking care!

I do wish more classic wrestlers made appearances in this film, but we do get a brief appearance from good ol' Bill Eadie... most of you may remember him as Demolition Ax... half of one of the coolest tag teams of all time. 

His is sort of a throwaway part right at the beginning, but it was still cool to see him if you can recognize him with his crazy fluffy hair instead of his better known slicked back look and silver face paint.

But perhaps my favorite bit part of the movie is the oh-so legendary Stan 'The Lariat' Hansen playing this dirty, sweaty, tobacco drooling, fighting redneck in a half shirt and soiled jogging pants Neanderthal. Holy shit he is over the top and completely ridiculous and I love him and want to marry him and totally have all of his babies.

My only wish besides the whole babies thing is that his role was somehow a little bigger and that he didn't get punked out to Zeus so damn easily. I love me some Stan Hansen, and to see him so absurd here makes me laugh still 20 years after the fact.

There's unfortunately not much more to say about Mr. Hansen here that -RoG-'s fantastic animated gifs don't already represent so well. He makes a teenie weenie observation in one of the dirtiest bathrooms in cinema history, walks out scratching his balls, and is then almost done except for getting his ass handed to him later on. A truly horrid and memorable performace that I will always love.

I mentioned the character of Mr. Brell who is essentially the 80s carbon copy executive corporate villain. It's a memorable role, I suppose, but whatever.

We're here for the sweaty mens, right?

But I do have to mention the one female character before then, yeah?

Joan Severance as Samantha Moore is our leading lady and is pretty damn bad, but unlike the others, not in really a memorable way. She was in Lethal Weapon and a couple other moderately well-known movies, but was mainly in late night Skinemax style flicks in the 1990s. This film was kept pretty kid friendly, so hotness Joan (which is most definitely not a hot name), bares no ass unfortunately. Hogan shows way more skin than she does. Samantha Moore is your typical action flick lady in peril, and outside of being easy on the eyes and a poorly written reason to get close to Rip in the first place, serves only to be a motivation to get the dudes fighting.

Whoa I feel like I have written a ton and only talked about appearances. But honestly this is what this No Holds Barred experience is about. Particularly for those who watched this movie when it was new... as wrestling fans and/or being aged in your early teens, pulling out these little parts is the magic here.

You'll remember Hogan exploding from the roof of the car.

You'll remember DOOOOKIIIIIE

You'll remember fighting in a fireball-filled factory.

You'll remember a motorcycle-riding Hogan chasing down a would-be rapist (that one came way out of left field)

You'll remember JOCKASS!

The dirty bathroom and Stan Hansen, the insane bar, the mirrors breaking, Zeus training. It all adds up to a steaming log, but it is one steaming log i proudly carry in my pocket without worrying so much about what people may think. Wright and Hackin do nothing except the bare minimum in presenting this story and just giving Hogan a vehicle to sweat, Zeus to yell, and suckers like me to buy into it.

This is another great example of a wrestling movie. You have 2008's The Wrestler, and on the other end of the spectrum, No Holds Barred. It is everything that The Wrestler is not, and as I said earlier a decent amalgamation of so many 80s action cliches that round out this formative decade for me so well.

Shirtless men? Check.
Mega popular hero finally meeting a seemingly unconquerable villain? Check.
Helpless supporting cast that only violence can protect? Check.
Evil corporate bossman bad guy? Check.
Neon gym, spandex and tassles, fist fights, silly climax, terrible generic rock score, speedos
Check, check, check!

The only thing missing are some tits!

But don't worry, the Loaf has you covered.

Stache battle AND blog tits. Loaf 2 - Zeus 0

Take that, Tiny!


All this said, I'm not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend this film to a non-wrestling fan and especially not to a non-80s action fan. It's average at its very best but a slice of my personal movie history, and I love every flawed minute.

Score: 5 / 10


The Gentlemens Guide To Midnite Cinema said...

and I quote: "...He has a Z of hair over his ear and a V of unibrow over his face". Brilliant. Also, the last gif; the woman must be Alex Winter's Mother.. Great review of an absolute Childhood favorite Loaf.. Does it have a legit dvd release? I'm sure it would..

The Gentlemens Guide To Midnite Cinema said...

oh, and this is Will, not Sammy

pickleloaf said...

There has been no DVD release of this movie, unfortunately. I thought it was ridiculous at first, but thinking about it, there could be lots of reasons.

Vince and Hogan both were producers, and I read that they actually rewrote the screenplay together in a hotel over a night. Weird. Anyway, it's very possible that there is some sort of legal matter between the two of them over the rights to the Hogan/McMahon stuff.

Also, the WWF name appears in the film. This is something WWE has had to go back and edit on their other video releases.

And Jessie The Body Ventura makes an appearance. Same as the old logo, they have actually edited out Ventura's voice in video releases for whatever reason.

Maybe something like that is interfering with it also.

Emily said...

There's a conspiracy to keep No Holds Barred out of the public's hands! I demand justice!

Or not. This was one of those obligations of childhood--especially when you have two older brothers who *sometimes* let you play with their WWF dolls (usually not if you called them dolls). At the same time, it's damn terrible, in a great way as you point out.

I can't imagine anyone watching it today for the first time--and by anyone, I mean young'ins--and getting it, but you make a good point about how that certain generation will always have a place for Rip.

pickleloaf said...

Totally. Wrestling is so different now that I think this would not work at all for someone who hasn't seen it.

MAYBE the current crop of fans that still see Hogan wrestling from time to time or on Hogan Knows Best or something.

and those WWF dolls were fucking fantastic. you could knock someone unconscious with one of the first ones!

Emily said...

I think I cried a lot from WWF doll-related injuries. The only one I officially had was the Lovely Elizabeth, and then I was occasionally allowed to play with the others. Really all I wanted was someone to make the same product of the G.L.O.W. wrestlers.

What are your thoughts on current wrestling thespians? Films like Santa's Slay and The Condemned seem to try to summon that spirit, but the audience is just so different now.