By Graham "GSM" Matthews
I have seen plenty of previews for "No Holds Barred" on WWE television in the last year and a half or so and had seen it referred to as a "cult classic". That being said, I had also seen people refer to it as a terrible movie despite being dumb fun. With that in mind, I went into my initial viewing of the movie with fairly low expectations. Somehow or another, the movie managed to be even worse than I expected it to be. I guess I should have seen this coming given the fact it was distributed by WWE Studios.
Remember, WWE Studios wasn't around in 1989, but WWE (or WWF at the time) still played a pivotal role in the production of this movie and own the rights to it, hence why they have heavily promoted its re-release in recent years. Some people may have found the movie to be unintentionally funny given how bad it was, but I honestly thought it was one of the worst movies I have ever seen with nothing humorous about it, intentionally or not. Granted, Hulk Hogan isn't exactly known for putting out critically acclaimed films, but his acting in the movie, along with that of the rest of the actors, was absolutely atrocious. The plot didn't make much sense, and too many aspects of the movie were too corny to the point of being unbearable to watch.
The fighting scenes were horribly done, as Hogan was somehow able to take out an entire army of men all by himself with fake-looking punches (more so than in professional wrestling) and a bad score playing in the background. I understood the theme of the movie and its storyline, and while it was bad to begin with, the execution was just horrendous. Although I have enjoyed Kurt Fuller's work in other movies and he was arguably the best character in the movie, not even he could save this film from being a complete and utter disaster. His character felt too over-the-top and his random death at the end seemed a bit dark, especially for a movie that is supposed to be somewhat family friendly.
I find it extremely hard to believe that this movie played out on WWE/F television in the year of its release. It is one thing to promote a movie on the programming, but it is a whole other thing to make an angle out of it. Then again, this was the late '80s and most of the stories and characters back then were goofy as all hell, so I guess it didn't seem as stupid to many people back then. Samantha Moore, Rip's love interest in the movie, is kidnapped and attacked on several occasions, yet the police aren't called at all. How does this even make sense? The film's anticlimactic conclusion with Hogan a.k.a. Rip overcoming Zeus and Brell with no follow-up just screams cheesy. The only positive thing I can say about "No Holds Barred" is that it features cameo appearances from Jesse Ventura, Gene Okerlund, and Howard Finkel. That's about it.
As previously stated, I realize many people see this movie as a "cult classic" and that it is nothing more than dumb fun, but I just can't recommend anyone to watch it. I thought it would only be right for me to screen the movie before I criticized it, and it turns out the movie was even worse than I originally anticipated, which is certainly saying something. So, the next time you trash a movie distributed by WWE Studios, compare it to this one and I assure you it couldn't be any worse.
Should you watch this movie? No.