Saturday, 31 October 2009

Over The Top (1987)

Over The Top is a strange film. First off, I have no idea what genre this film falls into. I mean, sure it’s a sort of family/action drama (trust me, it’s very dramatic), but I believe it’s the only arm-wrestling movie I have ever come across. So does that classify it as a “sports” film? And if so, I would really be stretching that term. Secondly, it’s a very strange star vehicle for Sly Stallone, coming in off the back of successful Rocky and Rambo outings, to a plot where…….well, there’s not much plot, plus it carries the tagline “Some fight for money….Some fight for glory….He’s fighting for his son’s love.” How wussy does that sound?

Basically, Lincoln Hawk (Stallone) is trucker making deliveries and arm wrestling for extra cash on the side. His estranged wife is dying and knowing that she does not have long, asks Hawk to pick up their son from the military academy and get to know him on the way to see her. Hawk’s son Michael (David Mendenhall), is at first unwilling to accept his father after he walked out on him and his mother, but warms soon after some traffic dodging, arm wrestling and endless truck driving. My first gripe with this film (and this is hard, as I adore any 80s movie), is that Michael is so damn irritating. His character is such a stuck up egomaniac, that I was hoping Hawk would abandon him all over again by throwing him out onto the hot tarmac!

Anyway, Michael and Hawk bond, much to the chagrin of Michael’s cranky grandfather (Robert Loggia), who doesn’t want him having anything to do with his biological father and sends some goons after them to recover the boy. At one point Hawk rams his truck into grumpy gramps’ mansion to see Michael and gets busted in the process, which is probably the most exciting and action packed moment of the entire film. In order to stay out of trouble, Hawk has to agree to leave the state and not see Michael. He does so, heading to Vegas to compete in the arm wrestling championships. Michael, missing his estranged father after just one day, escapes and heads to Vegas too, but with gramps and goons not too far behind. Then comes some of the most ludicrous sequences of images I have ever had to behold: Large, sweaty men constantly thrust into frame screaming and flexing their muscles in extremely tight shirts. Oh the screaming! I can still hear it all now….I thought the Ultimate Warrior was going to run in at any moment for a cheap cameo, with his veins bursting all over the camera.

In the end, Hawk beats the champ, Bull, in slow motion, whilst covered in buckets of sweat to the typical soft rock anthem. He wins a new truck, wins his son back for good and they head off into the end credits happily ever after. I would admit that some scenes are quite heart-warming in this, that is, if it weren’t for the vast amount of cheese that has been grilled on top of this movie. It isn’t pretty, but can be enjoyable if you aren’t expecting anything requiring brains or if you really, really like arm wrestling.

Things I Learned From This Movie:

-Arm wrestling is a hugely popular “sport”.
-You can make up for 10 years of child neglect in 1 day.
-If you do weights with just one arm, both your arms will appear the same size.
-Eating cigarettes and drinking motor oil can enhance your performance.
-You can win any arm wrestling bout as long as you “feel strong”.
-12 year old boys can learn to a drive trucking rig in under 5mins.
-12 year old boys can also drive a car instantly and know the way to Las Vegas.
-Arm wrestling can solve all your problems, whether it be a family feud or financial issues.
-Sylvester Stallone’s shoulders are shaped like pillows.
-Robert Loggia is nobody’s father.

Best Quote: "The world meets nobody halfway. When you want something, you gotta take it."



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