No Holds Barred Thomas J. Wright

No Holds Barred Thomas J. Wright
Given the general public's insatiable thirst for nostalgia and World Wrestling Entertainment head honcho Vince McMahon's insatiable thirst to sell us things, it's a wonder it took this long for Hulk Hogan's first starring vehicle to make it to DVD. Wisely, especially given some of the broader flops he'd later make, Hogan plays things close to the chest as Rip, a star wrestler in a fictional league that's proven to be a ratings powerhouse. Jealous of his rival's success, World Television Network head Brell (Kurt Fuller, who would play a lower ranking TV exec two years later as Russell in Wayne's World) tries to buy out Rip's contract. But it's a no-go, as Rip isn't a sell-out; he's an athlete through and through. Instead, Brell tracks down his own star, the psychopathic Zeus (played by real-life actor/wrestler Tom Lister Jr.) and launches a far more violent league. Still miffed at being rebuffed by Rip, Brell wants to pit the two men against one another, and even plants Samantha (Joan Severance) as a corporate spy. You can probably guess what happens next: Samantha falls for Rip, who is only goaded into the match with Zeus after the nut-bar puts Rip's waif-y brother, Randy, in the hospital. It's actually not all that different from the many, many martial art films, like Bloodsport or Best of the Best, that continue to find audiences on late night cable airings. But while watching Van Damme beat the crap out of dudes never gets old, No Holds Barred's fight scenes barely differ from your average wrestling match. Hogan's usual in-the-ring shtick of almost losing before finding his second wind even finds its way into the script ― twice. The moves are visibly pre-established between participants and the feigned pain is about as convincing as a wrestler trying to act (apologies to the Rock, who Hogan makes look like Marlon Brando). There are scant extras with the DVD, just a photo gallery (really, what's the point of these?). This is particularly upsetting given the film's pay-per-view premiere was followed by an actual match between Hogan and Lister. Laughably awful, No Holds Barred is really worth a watch if you grew up with Hulk-a-mania, if only to realize how misguided your childhood hero-worship really was. (eOne)