All the discussion in the old Observers of Hogan shooting No Holds Barred made me actually go back and watch the movie tonight, since WWE Studios had sent me a copy a while back, and I’m recovering from a painful sinus infection and I figured it couldn’t be any more painful.  I know this will amaze people, but I never actually watched the movie back in 1989. 

I will say, before we begin, that the DVD advertises a remastered picture, and it does look nice.  So I’ll give it that. 

As for the movie, it’s as hilariously terrible as promised, but also eerily predictive of certain specific things in the business.  The evil owner of the World Television Network televises no rules fights in an octagonal ring and gets big ratings from it!  Not like the WWF, who promote family friendly fights in a SQUARE ring, the way Jesus intended it!  There is one notable quote, where evil promoter Brell (who has no first name, much like heroic Rip has no last name) is threatened with a “worldwide coalition” of concerned parents who oppose his barbaric fights, and he basically says “Love it or hate it, they still watch” and if that’s not the Attitude Era in a nutshell for you, I don’t know what is. 

As for the “film”, I literally don’t even know where to begin with the ridiculousness of this movie.  The people are all broadly drawn cartoon characters with absolutely no believable motivation to do anything, just to name one thing.  Brell is so over-the-top evil that at one point he has Rip’s brother (Randy, also lacking a last name) kidnapped and put into a wheelchair by Zeus, but no one ever calls the police, and frankly I don’t even understand what he’s after!  Rip, who is just a regular guy that happens to be WWF champion and rides in limos and has private jets fly him around, will run people over with his motorcycle to prove a point, but draws the line at breaking a valid contract.  There’s gotta be a million billion crazy levels of Vince McMahon allegories written in this thing, starting with the superhero champion who refuses to work for a rival promoter despite offers of a blank check.  Well, we’d soon find out that the real Hulk Hogan didn’t have the same problems with that kind of offer, AMIRITE?  Also, the dirty Brell tells Rip that he’ll have to throw a wrestling match for reasons that are never really fully explained, and that’s the most scandalous thing you can do in this terrible movie.  Also, the pointless Samantha is tasked with “seducing” Rip at one point, and he resists the impulses because…I’m not sure, actually.  He’s a Mormon?  And then it’s even funnier given what we discovered about his moral fiber later on.  Not to mention that he beats up on a black guy in the movie’s big finale.

I know there’s a billion other things to annoy with this movie, but first up is that the director of a movie about wrestling has no idea how to shoot wrestling matches, but I guess that’s somewhat understandable.  The “girlfriend” character played by Joan Severance literally serves no purpose in the movie whatsoever and could actually be deleted without affecting anything at all.  She supposedly works as a double agent for Brell but doesn’t actually do anything to harm Rip.  During the climax she manages to get stuck in an elevator for what appears to be 5 minutes and I don’t even understand why she was being kidnapped in the first place, since Rip has no idea it’s happening and then she doesn’t affect anything by escaping. 

More stuff that bugged me:  Brell is the last place network behind whoever is broadcasting Rip’s WWF matches (because of course the WWF is on the #1 network) and so he goes to the worst dive bar in the history of dive bars and creates the rival Tough Guy promotion from it, and suddenly he’s the #1 network within a week.  But this is apparently not evil enough for him, so he proceeds to assault, kidnap and commit attempted murder in an effort to goad Rip into a match with his personal killing machine Zeus.  It’s like someone watched the Karate Kid but completely missed the point. 

Anyway, I don’t find it in the “so bad it’s good category”, because it starts out wonderfully cheesy but then gets really boring and dull with the pointless Samantha storyline and Zeus fighting luminaries such as “Lugwrench” Perkins on his way to the top of the Battle of the Tough Guys.  And then the finale is horribly paced and features the heroic Rip apparently killing two people in cold blood on national TV.  But I guess they did say that it was no holds barred. 

Also, I sadly only had the DVD version, which doesn’t include the cage match from the No Holds Barred PPV like the Blu Ray does. 

I don’t see good things for Hulk Hogan’s movie career after this one.