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No Holds Barred (Blu-ray Review)

No-Holds-BarredHulk Hogan was a mega star in the (then) World Wrestling Federation (WWF).  He was one of those “larger than life” personalities.  His presence got a whole generation into pro wrestling for at least a good while.  Personally, I even went and saw him live once.  I was young and didn’t see how fake it was and my dad to this day says watching me there was one of the greatest things he’d ever seen when I watched Hulkster battle Mr. Perfect.  The WWF wrestlers even had a cartoon back in the day.  The one thing Hulk Hogan didn’t really cross over to well like his popularity heir The Rock would now dominate, was becoming a big action movie star.  And to his defense, the era he tried to break into was already overloaded with action heroes.  But, it should be said, he did open the door for wrestlers to try their hand at mainstream film.  Hogan’s biggest numbers would wind up being a pair of family comedies that played on his abilities ironically (Mr. Nanny and Suburban Commando).  The Blu-ray we’re reviewing today, No Holds Barred (turning 25 years old this year), was his shot at maybe becoming the next big action star.

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Film 

Entertainment Value 

Rip is the current World Wrestling Federation Champion of the World.  The world loves him and shows it because his television ratings are through the roof.  Nothing can match him in his time slot.  A TV exec known simply as “Brell” wants in on his fame and ratings.  But, when Rip turns down breaking his contract to go to WTN, Brell goes out for blood to top the one hour time slot he covets.  He tries to get at Rip personally and also creates his own fighting show that will hopefully draw Rip to his network.

I did not expect to fall hard for this movie like I did.  No, this is not a good film at all.  But, if you’re a fan of and understand the enjoyment of films like Miami Connection, Deadly Prey, The Room or like the movies covered in the How Did This Get Made? podcast, you’ll understand why I was thrilled by it.  In fact, as my friends who I’ve been texting about it will tell you, I have dubbed it the “Cool As Ice of pro wrestler movies.” What may have been a disappointment to some back in 1989 has aged into the perfect type of midnight movie fun that people are always seeking out to find the next film they can’t wait to share with their friends.

No Holds Barred’s plot is absolutely downward spiral of constantly getting more ridiculous with each turn when you consider what this subject matter is about.  It constantly is topping itself with crazy until it has no choice in the end but to end on the most absurd notes as possible.  This whole movie is about winning the ratings of a 1 hour time slot and this TV exec is willing to go to the most extreme lengths to beat Rip in the ratings.  That exec is played by Kurt Fuller who goes above and beyond the call of insanity in the film.  I give him kudos, the guy saw the script and said “Oh yeah, you think this is ridiculous, Mr. Screenwriter?  Check ME out!”

Hulk Hogan himself is no thespian, but that’s plenty of the fun with his acting.  Plus he gets put in some pretty funny outfits throughout the film.  If you’re a boy of my generation, you’ll probably recognize his love interest Joan Severance who starred in plenty of Cinemax movies.  Mark Pellegrino plays Rip’s brother, and wow, it’s a side I’ve never seen of him. He’s very restrained until the finale where he just lets loose and you can’t help but chuckle.

I can’t lie to you.  I had a blast watching this movie.  I expect maybe a couple of cheap thrills going in, but hot damn I didn’t realize I was about to watch such great film in the “so bad it’s good” realm.  “Ridiculous” would be a perfect word for the film, but it has other areas of fun as well.  It’s even got a really really really bad theme song to go with it.  This movie would be best served watching it with a group of friends and some tasty beverages on hand.  It would definitely make a good Hulk Hogan double feature with 3 Ninjas: High Noon At Mega Mountain or maybe Suburban Commando.  Cheers!

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1

Clarity/Detail:  This delivers a pretty minimal amount of effort in the transfer.  It’s a dingy looking picture that is very unappealing and looks like it was brought to Blu-ray with the least amount of effort.  Detail is really low and the image is really soft overall.

Depth:  A rather flat image, that features not much in the way of multidimensional images.  There are some locations that may have looked fantastic in high definition had more care been given to this print.

Black Levels:  There are not a lot of discernable differences in the shades of black.  Also dark spots tend to hide plenty of detail.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are all pale and super cold.  Some of Rip’s outfits do pop at times, but I think there was really no way around that if you know what I mean.

Flesh Tones:  Flesh tones can differ from shot to shot and come across as smooth, lacking in detail.

Noise/Artifacts: The image is rich with grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics:  This is a rather weak track that would probably almost serve the same purpose being 2.0.  It’s very front heavy and has a lot of issues.  You’ll get through it just fine, but it almost sounds like glorified DVD audio.

Low Frequency Extension:  This was hit and miss.  At times there was the kind of “average” sound you’d expect from a good action movie, but a lot of the times it was lacking.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The minimal of work here as there’s just some lighter sounding score and low crowd noise coming from the rear speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction:  This was probably the most problematic in the track.  Voices would tend to peak and also buzz when they got too low.  Volume levels were all over the place.  Also, in some areas they sounded as if they were speaking in a tin can.

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Extras 

A neat little bonus here includes some classic matches featuring the film’s stars.  As much as I was like “ugh” about having to sit through these, I couldn’t help but find these matches incredibly entertaining, funny and very watchable.

Summerslam Match: Zeus & “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/ Sensational Sherri VS Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake w/ Miss Elizabeth – 8/28/1989 (HD, 29:51) – The full match in high definition video and audio, complete with a smack talk session before it begins.

“No Holds Barred” Steel Cage Match – 12/27/1989 (HD, 18:12) – Another tag team match with the same parties involved.  This one includes smack talk with both sides this time.

Photo Gallery – 43 production stills from the film.

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Summary 

While I recommend it to those of you who enjoy this style of film watching, I can’t help but forewarn this film is given a rather crummy presentation.  While its debuting around and easily affordable $12, I would recommend waiting for even that price to go down.  Its solid in the extras department, as I found including 2 classic matches feature Hogan and “Tiny” Lister to be a unique treat fitting of this film.  I think that this film got to Blu-ray in the first place should even be seen as a triumph (ask Brian about Double Jeopardy), but that’s about where the effort on its transfer and audio ceased.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “No Holds Barred (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gerard Iribe