Friday, March 28, 2014

No Holds Barred (Blu-ray Review) - Image Entertainment

Directed By: Thomas J. Wright
Written By: Dennis Hackin
Starring: Hulk Hogan, Kurt Fuller, Tommy "Tiny" Lister
Color/94 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: April 1, 2014

The Film
With the worldwide popularity of Rip (Hulk Hogan, more or less as an action movie version of himself) the World Wrestling Federation owns the airwaves. With each title defense more and more fans latch on to Ripmania. The World Television Network does their best to bribe Rip away from the WWF, going far enough to hand him a signed check and let him fill out the amount. Rip won't be torn away from where his loyalties lie so the WTN goes to the real world of fighting holding an open invitational fight called Battle Of The Tough Guys. The winner of the contest is Zeus (Tommy "Tiny" Lister) who will now fight a new challenger each week. Eventually the challenge is issued to Rip but Rip won't accept due to the violent nature of Battle Of The Tough Guys but when his brother is badly hurt as a result of his negative response towards the program the only thing to do is be a real American and fight Zeus in a No Holds Barred fight to the death.

There are few things in pop culture that were as widespread as Hulkamania in the 1980s. It had no barriers of gender, age, race, nation, it was insane. Hulk Hogan was the biggest name on the planet and WWF flourished. Entering the world of film was a logical step and Hulk essentially portrayed himself against a hulking, imposing beast of a man in Tiny Lister. It is interesting that Vince McMahon (Owner of WWF, now WWE) had tried to build Zeus into a legitimate wrestler around this movie but he just never got over with the wrestling audiences due to his minimal training. That didn't stop him from having a few high profile matches against Hogan, though always in a tag team setting to minimalize Zeus' responsibility.

NO HOLDS BARRED is 80s through and through. From the ridiculous one liners, to Rip's trademark gesture after he roughs up the baddies, to the corny and forced love story, it could be seen as the Lifetime channel's version of Rocky. That isn't a bad thing, NO HOLDS BARRED is a charmingly stupid popcorn flick with ridiculous re-watchability. It certainly isn't art and it isn't particularly well made but we are talking about a wrestling movie from 1989 starring Hulk Hogan, who hasn't improved his acting skills since, it was made for fans and holds up as a movie to watch with a group of friends and a few drinks.

The Audio & Video
Image Entertainment upgrades their previous DVD of NO HOLDS BARRED to HD with this new Blu-ray. The 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a nice upgrade from the previous standard definition release. Skin tones are natural, and detail from sweat to textures of clothing or hair are strong. The image is mostly strong with a few areas of softness that seem inherent to the film's production. The DTS-HD 5.1 audio track is very nice and at times boisterous. From veteran WWF(E) composer Jim Johnston's soundtrack to the hilarious dialogue throughout it is a great mix. 

The Extras
Extras include a pair of matches featuring Hogan vs Zeus:
-Summerslam '89 - Zeus & Macho Man Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan and Brutus The Barber Beefcake
-"NO HOLDS BARRED" Match Revisited - Tag Team Steel Cage Match 12/27/1989

The Bottom Line
This Blu-ray doesn't smell like dookie, and there's no heel turns here. The movie is a riot and the disc is a squash over the previous DVD. How many more wrestling references can I fit in before I tell you to just buy it? Well everyone has a price and this disc is the excellence of execution. 


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