No Holds Barred Movie Review: Examining the New DVD of WWE's First Film Ever

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No Holds Barred Movie Review: Examining the New DVD of WWE's First Film Ever
Photo from amazon.com

WWE's first foray into the film world, 1989's No Holds Barred served as a Hulk Hogan vehicle. 

It was released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1990 and now makes its way onto the DVD some 20-plus years later.   

Fans who were children when the movie came out may remember it fondly only to be stunned by just how cheesy it is today. No Holds Barred is painfully terrible in terms of both script and acting.

 

The Concept

A movie and wrestling match tie-in, the film was a precursor to WWE's attempt to continue to stretch its grasp beyond the ring and into the mainstream. 

Tom "Tiny" Lister of future Friday fame starred alongside Hogan as Zeus. 

The plot of the movie bled into the wrestling ring as the character Zeus arrived in the WWE to feud with Hogan. 

Fans could watch the No Holds Barred movie and also get a tag team steel cage match featuring Hogan and Brutus Beefcake vs. Zeus and Randy Savage. 

Hogan and Zeus also collided at SummerSlam 1989.

The wrestling was far more entertaining than the film. 

Savage, Hogan and Beefcake did most of the work in their matches. Lister played Zeus better in the ring as well, with no lines to overdo. 

 

The Movie

Hogan plays Rip, a beloved professional wrestler. Kurt Fuller plays a corporate weasel and television network head who tries to force Rip to sign with his network. 

When Rip refuses, the TV exec starts a tournament called (no joke) "The Battle of the Tough Guys." Zeus wins the tournament and is soon on a collision course with Rip.

It's easy to see why No Holds Barred earned a zero percent rating from RottenTomatoes.com.

Hogan and Lister's acting range begins with angry and stretches all the way to really angry. There is a lot of unnecessary screaming. 

Fuller is fine as a second banana, but is not nearly evil enough to carry the film as the lead villain. His scenes tend to drag.

Lister tries too hard as the monster of a man.

Hogan plays a toned down version of his Hulkster character and does fine in the wrestling scenes. It's when he is asked to have sexual tension with the leading lady (Joan Severance) that he stumbles, emoting as effectively as drywall. 

The film's rhythm is odd, too. Needless scenes are drawn out, while we go long periods without any action. 

A scene where two corporate cronies go to the restroom goes on way too long.

Wrestling fans will enjoy spotting the wrestlers scattered throughout the film like Bill Eadie and Stan Hansen. Little other pleasure can be derived from this. 

 

The DVD

The film has been digitally remastered. That only means Hogan's atrocious ‘80s outfits will be easier to see.   

The change in format offers no special features other than a photo gallery.

It would have been smart to include some of Zeus' WWE career with the disc. Instead, the bare-bones DVD package does itself a disservice.

Likely the fans interested in the DVD are rabid fans. Having no interviews or commentary or any extras puts those fans off. 

There are plenty of fun '80s movies out there to stir up nostalgia. A good number of them will more enjoyable than No Holds Barred.   

Diehard Hogan fans and children may be the only ones who feel they get their money's worth with No Holds Barred.  

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