Friday, March 28, 2014

No Holds Barred (Image Blu-ray) - How The Ripper Got His Groove Back

Hulk Hogan's been seeing some screen time again. He's back in the WWE once again, and his performance as Rip Thomas has been immortalized on Blu-ray. The whole thing raises for questions than it answers, and while I enjoyed No Holds Barred as a kid, I can't say that this movie has stood the test of time. It is, however, an exceptionally entertaining piece of the 80's that should be archived and appreciated by both a new fan base of wrestling fans who still know the name Hulk, and by older fans who have grown up with fond memories of the battle between The Ripper and Zeus. If you liked pro-wrestling in the 80's then you like No Holds Barred... well, if you liked the WWF in the 80's that is. If you didn't, you liked action movies, and so you still probably enjoyed No Holds Barred but maybe you don't hold it as cannon in the legacy of professional wrestling that the Vince McMahon era WWF fans do. Either way, you have a disc here that is ready to be appreciated.

Synopsis from Image:

When world wrestling champion Rip Thomas (WWE Hall of Famer 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 ‘Tiny’ Lister, The Dark Knight) 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.

The movie itself is part comedy, part action movie, part wrestling showcase that attempted to draw in several different audiences to the same picture. There's something in for everyone, though I believe the wrestling fans were the primary target. The WWF in the 80's might as well have printed money on the tights of its athletes. That being said, the movie doesn't feature an overabundance of  traditional wrestling but instead takes the performances of Hogan and company to various locales inserting the sport into a variety of settings. I personally would have preferred a move that featured wrestling as we know it, but then I would have been watching Monday Night RAW. I still love wrestling thought I'm not as adamant as some, and I can tell you that as a wrestling fan this film contains all the drama, bad guy wrestler-ship and snarky, mean spirited con men playing the athletes as if they were pons. Overall No Holds Barred may only fail in that it isn't quite funny enough to be a comedy, not action packed enough to appeal to the Schwarzenegger crowd and doesn't contain enough pure sport to appeal to the ringside fan. But it's fun and you should pick it up because it's a nostalgia trip and your kids are going to love it.

Things that need improvement... we need more WWF superstars in this release. I just never understood why we couldn't get EVERYBODY on board. I loved the WWF cartoon as a kid because of all the personalities and a movie filled with them all would have been truly special; a time capsule. Also, some of these scenes just go on forever. How many times can we watch Hulk Hogan kick a limo door or watch rednecks fight in a makeshift ring in a redneck bar? Pacing. For as well orchestrated as the WWF was during this period, the movie was a sludgey drudgey slow mover.

The transfer looks good and the disc sounds good. The packaging is fairly standard. The movie contains way too many unskippable trailers and that is friggin' annoying. Not being able to hit the menu button is the Blu-ray equivalent to prison. Do not hold us captive to every single WWE release, please. We like your product. We will seek out the others. Note: 1080p HD 1.85:1; DTS HD Master 5.1 Audio.

Bonus features include a photo gallery and two very important matches. The Summer Slam Match featuring The Macho Man Randy Savage (The Macho King really) and Zeus with Sensational Sherri versus Hogan and Brutus the Barber Beefcake with Miss Elizabeth is great. You'll love it. It's full frame which surprised me until I remembered that it would be full frame since it aired on TV in the 80's. Hogan's music is that shit show synth instead of Real American which absolutely pisses me off. I understand this concept as to why you can't necessarily include it due to obtaining and paying for rights to theme songs, but this is friggin' Hulk Hogan. Just do it. Do. it. Stop this silliness. Tack $.50 on the cost of Blu-ray.  The second match is the reprise, No Holds Barred Match in a steel cage with the same contenders. I love that damn blue cage.

I definitely recommend this to the 80's crowd even if you don't dig professional wrestling. Wrestling fans... you know what to do.

You can order No Holds Barred now. Available April 1st.

-Doc Terror

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