Thursday, April 10, 2014

No Holds Barred Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Scott Meyers
When world wrestling champion Rip Thomas (wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan) refuses to join a competing network, an evil executive creates a new program, "The Battle of the Tough Guys," where rules don't exist and men engage in an all-out brawl for money. After a murdering ex-convict by the name of Zeus (Tommy Lister, The Fifth Element) comes out on top as the toughest man, an ultimate title match with Rip is the TV network's best chance for big ratings. But when Rip refuses the challenge and his brother is roughed-up as a consequence, the world champion has no choice but to teach Zeus a lesson in a final "No Holds Barred" fight to the finish in this 80's cult classic film.

Film (2 out of 5 stars)
Starring WWF icon Hulk Hogan as Rip Thomas, a professional wrestler at the peak of his career, who is being pursued to join a competing network, the WTN. We first meet Rip while he is defending his title for World Champion. After defending his title the WTN executive, Mr. Brell (played by Kurt Fuller), convinces him to a meeting where they offer him anything he wants. Rip answers Mr. Brell in his own special way. After leaving the meeting he is taken for a ride and ambushed by a gang of men; he then dispatches his own justice.

His current company works to get him more exposure, to become more well known. At this meeting is where he meets Samantha, "Sam" (played by Joan Severance). Her first perception of Rip is that he is all muscle and no brain, but soon that perception changes and she finds out there is more to him than what people see on television or in the ring.

Mr. Brell discovers, while at a dirty bar, a new sport where there are no rules and the last man standing wins. Brell brings the sport to his network and calls it: "The Battle of the Tough Guy" and makes it a winner take all brawl where the winner gets $100,000. This competition is where we first meet Zeus (played by Tommy "Tiny" Lester) who is a gigantic monster of person who seems unbeatable. He is exactly what Brell is looking for. The viewer and critics have mixed emotions on the programming but the battles continue and Zeus will fight anyone anywhere. His only problem is he loses control and no one is able to stop him.

Rip continues to try and show Sam what he is actually like as a person; Sam starts to see a side of him that she never thought about or that he even had: he has a sensitive side that he never shows anyone. Sam eventually falls for Rip. Zeus challenges Rip on national television for a show down and when Rip does not respond Zeus stalks Rip wherever he goes and does whatever it takes to get Rip into the ring. Zeus ends up going after someone close to Rip in order to Rip to finally do what he wants. In the final showdown between 2 giants where anything goes, it's going to be No Holds Barred.

This movie brought back memories from my childhood when I remember seeing this film for the first time. When I see it now, it is one of those movies in 1980's where the acting is at times over the top (not usually in the good way) and where the plot is completely lacking depth. Looking at the cast and studio that produced the movie you cannot expect an award winning movie, but it is still an enjoyable movie with some decent fight scenes as well as comedic writing.
Video (2 out of 5 stars)
This movie was digitally remastered to 1080p High-Definition with a 1.85:1 ratio; however the quality of the film was still not the greatest. The quality stilled showed grainy and not completely crisp like modern films. At times the 80's vibe came out with the neon colors and color blurs. The fight scenes were well done and seemed as real as the wrestling that Hulk Hogan and Zeus did professionally for the WWF. 
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
No Holds Barred's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix for the film was much better than expected. The dialogue was clear and was well balanced with the action in the movie, but the sound effects that went along with the action scenes were a little over the top at times. It seems like they were trying to make the effects sound extra loud and exaggerated so that the blows between the wrestlers felt epic, but it was way overdone. The music for the film is straight out of the 80's with the inspirational and fast-paced music. The overall sound of the film, from the dialogue to the music and everything in between was a great quality for a film that was made 25 years ago.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)

Summerslam Match: 8/28/1989 - Exclusive 30 minute video from a tag-team match, including pre-match interviews from wrestlers. 

"No Holds Barred" Match Revisited: 12/27/1989 - 20 minute video from steel cage match, with pre-match interviews from the wrestlers.

Photo Gallery - 42 still shots taken throughout the movie
Summary (2.5 out of 5 stars)
The overall movie experience from the film was average. The film was not award winning, but for something that come out of the 80's it's not terrible. While watching the bonus features, I enjoyed seeing the over the top acting that the professional wrestlers did then and seeing some classic matches brought back some nostalgia from my childhood. The overall quality of the film, from the video quality to the audio quality is not up to modern standards to need to get the Blu-ray edition.

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