Over the Top

tn_overthetopcountdownlogoWrestling – and I’m talking about real deal wrestling, like Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, not WWE – is a sport of skill and stamina as well as strength. It’s a series of offenses and defenses, attacks and responses, takedowns, holds and escapes. Strength and size are a huge advantage, but they’re not everything. A great wrestler always has to know how to find an opening to control his opponent and also how to slip away when he’s made a mistake. It can look like two brutes rolling around on the ground, but at times it can be as much of a battle of wits as a chess game. The winning wrestler has to perform the correct sequence of moves, and perform them well, to get the other guy where he wants him for the win.

Also there is arm wrestling.

mp_overthetopI always wondered how the fuck Sylvester Stallone made a whole movie about arm wrestling. Boxing – of course that works, there’s so much training and politics and the fights can go on for a long time if they’re well matched. And I haven’t seen DRIVEN yet, but I can see how he could do one about being a race car driver. There’s alot of preparation that goes into building that car and getting the team together and everything. But arm wrestling? It would almost make more sense to make a movie about the hand slap game from ON DEADLY GROUND.

Well, the answer to my question is that the movie is mostly about him hanging out with a little kid.

Still, this is a story about how winner takes all, loser takes a fall. It’s about how you should never turn away when the challenge is alive because the choice is yours to make in every chance you take. It argues that first the mind, then the soul, and when the heart gets pumped up for the goal, there’s no defeat because you’d sooner die and it’s man to man as we stand eye to eye. It’s also about how you should follow your heart no matter where the path may lead because in this country our hearts are open, we are free to fly again. It tells you that you know you got to break on through, there’s only one thing you can do. And that’s only from the first three songs on the soundtrack, by Sammy Hagar, Robin Zander and Larry Greene. We didn’t even get to Frank Stallone, Kenny Loggins or Eddie Money yet.

Stallone plays Lincoln “Hawk” Hawk, a truck driver who as the movie begins is already signed up for the Arm-Wrestling National Championships or whatever in Las Vegas. But his mind is on family. He doesn’t have one, but he used to. The wife that he left ten years ago (Susan Blakely) is about to have surgery, and she wants him to pick up his estranged son Michael from military school and bring him to the hospital. She seems to know this could be the end and she wants to let bygones be bygones and try to reconnect father and son.

Michael (David Mendenhall) couldn’t be more different from Stallone’s working class character Hawk if he was Dolph Lundgren. He talks alot, has a high-pitched voice, wears his school uniform, grew up rich with his grandfather (Robert Loggia) in a mansion (the same one they used in the Beverly Hillbillies tv show). He’s used to  traveling in grandpa’s private jet, but now he has to ride cross country in a semi with a Brut ad on the side. When Hawk shows up at the school to pick him up, Michael asks to see some ID. He keeps calling Hawk “sir” and lecturing him about cholesterol-heavy food and saying condescending things like “You don’t read much, do you?” He really doesn’t want to be hanging out with his dad, to the point that he actually climbs out of the truck and tries to make a run for it through freeway traffic.

Hawk knows he’s been a terrible father (really, not one at all) but he doesn’t know that it’s even worse than he thinks: grandpa never gave Michael any of the hundreds of letters he wrote to him over the years. I guess he should’ve been suspicious that he never got a response. It’s one of those things, like Bruce never having been sick before in UNBREAKABLE, where it seems like it would’ve had to have occurred to them at some point before.

Father and son tension comes to a head when Michael doesn’t like the music on the radio, so he turns it off. Hawk responds by turning it back on. Michael’s counter move is to then turn it off. So Hawk turns it back on again. But Michael has another trick up his sleeve: he turns it off, at which point Hawk turns it back on. Then Michael turns it back off. This goes on for a while, and every time one of them takes their turn it seems like they’re convinced that’s gonna be the end of it. It’s one of those really dramatic, fascinating competitions to watch like tic tac toe or, uh, arm wrestling.

But like I said, this is a movie with inspiration rock in it, so Hawk and son spend the night sleeping in the truck and wake up to a sunny training montage set to (I think) Kenny Loggins singing about new beginnings. They do pushups together, they tear the sleeves off the kid’s jacket and Hawk must say something really charming because before the song ends the kid is laughing and they seem to have grown closer.

But a true bond can’t just pop up during a montage. Hawk has got to share his culture with his son. This first happens when they stop at a diner and some muscleman taunts him into an arm wrestling match. Later, at another truck stop, there are some bigger kids playing video games and he pushes his kid into arm wrestling them in order to teach a valuable lesson about losing but then believing in yourself so that you get best 2 out of 3. I don’t know if maybe there’s something in their genetics or something but somehow these Hawks seem to defy the laws of physics the way they can overpower larger, stronger opponents in contests of pure strength.

There’s also a scene where Hawk gets fed up with his son making condescending comments about truck driving so in order to prove how hard it is he forces the kid to take over driving. Hawk is very proud and doesn’t seem to realize that he lost the argument when the kid turns out to be able to drive it surprisingly well. But jesus man, I don’t agree with his decision to force a little kid to drive a giant truck and trailer on a windy road like that. He’s incredibly lucky the kid didn’t plow into some family in an RV and kill 8 people including themselves. You don’t get best 2 out of 3 on something like that. But I guess it would’ve proved his point that not just anybody can drive a truck.

It’s never mentioned why Hawk left his family other than “Well… I had some reasons,” and he thinks the important thing is that it was a mistake and he has to make up for it now. The wife doesn’t seem too bitter about the whole thing, in fact she seems to love Hawk and want to give her son back to him and never seems to have any negativity about it. But Grandpa despises Hawk, teaches Michael to hate him and tells him lies like that he’s a drug dealer. Grandpa comes off like a real asshole, and obviously looks down on Hawk for being an uneducated truck driver and not very well spoken. But you gotta admit he has pretty good reason to want to get custody of the kid. He’s raised him himself, and he has plenty of money. Hawk fucking abandoned this kid and now he wants custody again – what’s he gonna do, home school him in the truck while he makes his cross country cologne deliveries?

On the other hand Grandpa has Terry Funk (wrestler profiled in BEYOND THE MAT, also appears in ROAD HOUSE) and some other henchmen who he sends to kidnap the kid, and that’s not cool. Also he’s always trying to pay people off to get what he wants. I don’t like this guy, even though he’s kind of right.

Hawk is trying to make amends and be there for this kid, but he’s not doing the best job. First of all, by the time they get to the hospital mom has already died, and it’s not lost on the kid that Hawk chose bond-with-your-deadbeat-dad-road-trip over tell-your-mother-you-love-her-before-she-dies. Michael correctly cries, “You’ve never been around when anybody needed you.” This would be a good chance for Hawk to stick around and prove otherwise, but he chooses option B: get up and walk away in the middle of the fucking funeral. Right in front of everybody. At least wait until afterwards, don’t rub it in for the poor kid.

Hawk could still have legal custody, but physically the kid is at the Beverly Hillbillies mansion and Terry Funk and the boys won’t let him in to talk. This is another point where in my opinion he doesn’t use the best possible judgment. What he does, he drives his semi through the gate and the side of the mansion.

So, you know, by the time he gets to Vegas for the arm wrestling he’s in some debt for property damage, has pawned off his beloved truck (but kept the hawk-shaped hood ornament, see poster) and signed over custody of the kid (at the kid’s request). With this shit going on in his life you figure he’s not gonna have the eye of the tiger, and also it’s hard not to notice that pretty much every other competitor has arms bigger than his head. So this doesn’t look good.

overthetopactionfigureRemember when I complained about the races in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS being uncinematic because it’s just driving in a straight line and when you’re not going fast enough you push a button that makes you go faster? Arm wrestling is pretty much the same. Instead of pushing a button you shift your hand a little.

And this has the extra disadvantage of not being even remotely believable. After RAMBO Stallone become synonymous with bodybuilding, but the real life arm wrestlers who are cast in the movie would make Schwarzenegger look scrawny. They’re these crazed giants and he’s “a newcomer from the trucker division.”

We’ve all discussed different types of fights where a smaller opponent can defeat a behemoth through knowledge of chokes and armbars and shit. I’ve seen a UFC fight where a little guy beat a Yokozuna sumo wrestler by breaking his nose on the way down to the mat and certain doom. But there is no fucking way that Stallone could beat any of these monsters in arm wrestling just because he believes in himself. This is not DUMBO. This is not THE SECRET. This is a simple matter of one arm that is heavier and stronger than another arm.

I mean, even in this bullshit cinematic version of arm wrestling they don’t pretend there’s any skill to it. The main training that Stallone does is pulling on a weight inside his truck while he’s driving. And you see guys at the competition just carrying around dumbells in the crowd. This is not kung fu, you don’t need total concentration. You just lift heavy stuff while you’re going about your daily routine.

For the final match (against a real arm wrestling champion, I think) their idea for making it more dramatic and suspenseful is that there’s a part where their grip slips, so they have to be tied together. I think this is supposed to seem like an upping of the ante, like when Van Damme had the glass shards glued to his forearms in BLOODSPORT or KICKBOXER (I always forget which one is which), but I mean they were supposed to hold onto each other anyway. The strap just makes sure they do a better job.

What is pretty cool about the climax though is that the kid finds out some new information and decides he wants to give his two-time deadbeat dad a chance. So he sneaks out, illegally drives a pickup truck to the airport and flies to Vegas, getting to the casino just in time to cheer his dad on. I like it because I’ve seen about ten thousand movies and TV shows where a fuck up dad has to race against time to try to get to his son’s sporting competition, but I don’t think I’ve seen one where the son has to race to get to the deadbeat’s sporting competition.

Also he gets a break between matches to punch Terry Funk through a set of doors.

OVER THE TOP was actually directed by Menahem Golan, co-head of Golan and Globus/Cannon Films. I guess this is probly his best known directorial work, closely followed by DELTA FORCE and then ENTER THE NINJA. Despite its complete ridiculousness it’s not made as shittily as alot of the movies he just produced, and it has one unique directorial touch when he works in some interviews with the real arm wrestlers about what they do. Stallone even does a good job seeming cinema verite in his interview, where he explains the philosophy of something we already noticed earlier, that he likes to turn his hat around backwards before a match.

The script was by Stallone and Sterling Silliphant, the student of Bruce Lee and Academy Award winner for IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. (He also wrote SHAFT IN AFRICA and THE ENFORCER.) I don’t know what in fuck’s name these guys were trying to do here, but it’s a pretty funny movie. I enjoyed it. I think maybe Stallone’s best quality is that he wears his heart on his sleeve. He tries to be a poet for the big lugs, he tries to show that they have a heart and soul even if they don’t know how to put it into enunciated words. People remember him for his muscles, guns and explosive tipped arrows, but most of his movies are as much about his emotions, his relationships. To me FIRST BLOOD is more about his break down at the end than all the awesome survival tactics.

So I appreciate that even when he does a stupid movie like this I can tell that it came from his heart. When his idea muscles are in top condition he comes up with ROCKY, when they’re not he comes up with this. But I can get some enjoyment out of both.


This entry was posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010 at 4:57 pm and is filed under Action, Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

53 Responses to “Over the Top”

  1. Good shit, Vern. Let’s hope Stallone’s idea muscles are not forever corrupted by post-action filmatism.

  2. You know, its movies like this which killed Stallone’s career in the first place.

  3. One Guy From Andromeda

    August 13th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I loved this movie when i was 7, but the only thing i clearly remember about it is that one moment during the arm wrestling competition where one of the guys gets his arm broken and the bone pops out. May be a distorted childhood memory though.

  4. Actually when his idea muscles aren’t that great, he comes up with COBRA.

  5. Kenny Loggins. Was there a law in the 80s saying he had to appear on the soundtrack of every single film?

  6. A very funny review to end the Expendables checklist. Good job Vern.

  7. Brendan – Oh yes, COBRA that….piece of shit. I mean really, no wonder he and the BEVERLY HILLS COP producers didn’t exactly agree on certain ideas.

  8. RE: One Guy From Andromeda

    That was actually Cronenberg’s THE FLY. But I think all of us have confused Stallone with Goldbloom at least once or twice.

  9. Hunter D. – Must be the nose.

  10. not every arm wrestler is ULTRA HUGE. in fact the Discovery Channel had a special about strength that showed a champion that was no larger than Sly is in this movie.

  11. Wooow Vern. This is a truly great review of a film I’d never heard of, and, it’s safe to say, wouldn’t have bothered catching on TV if I hadn’t have read this review. But now I’m seriously tempted to look it up. Definitely one of your best recent reviews.

    I don’t know the film, but I do know the truly unfortunately named “Sterling Silliphant”. He’s the academy-award winning writer of “In the Heat of the Night” in the same sense that Akiva Goldsman is the academy-award winning writer of “A Beautiful Mind”. Which may have been a very good film – my parents swear by it – but that’s not a compliment, because I’ve seen what else he’s written. (“I Robot” and “Batman and Robin” to give two examples. I quite like “I Robot”, as flawed as it is; but the story, dialogue, and general writing quality in it is just appalling.)

    As for Sterling… look, I know that “In The Heat of the Night” is really “about” race relations. But I just happen to be a HUGE murder mystery fan, and at its heart “ITHotN” is a murder mystery. Except it’s really not, because the solution to that mystery is given away by a massive, unmissable, totally unnecessary cliche IN THE FIRST SHOT OF THE MOVIE. It’s so mind-bogglingly stupid that I’m amazed the director filmed it or that the editors let it in at all.

    And it’s not as though plenty of mystery films have had their endings spoilt by a bit of cliche’d storytelling (otherwise known as the “who’d-a-thunk-it’d-be-the-tall-thin-white-guy-wearing-glasses” malady.) But this is quite literally the worst example of narrative faux-pas in film, ever – and that includes all the films I haven’t seen, because I can’t understand how it would be possible to “top” it. You can’t. I mean, making a murder mystery and then using a ridiculous and practically unmissable cliche to spell out the killer’s identity in the very first shot of the damn movie. How do you beat that?

    Anyway… point is, “In the heat of the night” was in many ways a great film. But those ways don’t include the writing. I think Virgil Tibbs was a fairly one-dimensional character – the badass with a chip on his shoulder. Rod Steiger gave a truly great performance, elevating the character he played beyond the script that he had. I find it easy to believe that there was no greater performance that year than Steiger’s Oscar-winning turn in that film; but I find it hard to believe that this was the best writing.

    All of which, if anything, makes me more curious about “Over the Top”, not less. I enjoyed “In the heat of the night” despite knowing from literally the first scene who the killer was, in a film where much of the story dealt with the two different investigators’ methods of dealing with false leads and difficult “suspects”. Would I enjoy “Over the Top”, despite the fact that, as far as Vern’s review would suggest, it suffers from many of the same flaws as “In the heat of the night”? (Although giving away the “surprise” killer in the first scene is probably not one of them.)

  12. Paul – Yeah I’m with you on the particular problems of HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Fact was, Stanley Kramer made movies relevant at the time in the 1960s. OK fine but for the most part most of those movies which alot of people out of protocol kiss ass haven’t necessarily transcended their period for why someone should bother checking most of them out.

    There are exceptions I suppose. I’m fan of IT’S A MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD, maybe the only 3+ hour American comedy epic I’m aware of. Other fans included the founder of In & Out Burger (look at the logo) and that Angry Video Game Nerd dude.

    And well, INHERIT THE WIND because of how fucking stupid this country has gotten on that entire evolution discussion. Don’t believe in evolution? I don’t believe in gravity either.

    Otherwise Stanley Kramer means little if nothing to me.

  13. Paul – Speaking of Oscar-honored scriptwriters later hired to pen junk, look at Robert Towne. He penned mother fucking CHINATOWN, and later MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2.

  14. Skip this if you’re not into a long story:

    My dad worked on oil rigs when he was younger and told me a story about a medium-sized dude who was absolutely deadly at arm-wrestling, which I thought may have some relevance here. Apparently this guy spent all day at the top of an oil tower moving 300 pound pipes around, which made him insanely strong, but strangely did not make him bulky. More of a Bruce Lee build where if the guy was wearing a shirt you would never know that he was completely ripped. So after a long day on the tower, this unassuming guy and his friends would go down to the bar where he would find the biggest, meanest, ugliest guy in the joint (no lack of competition in rural Louisiana) and bet him $200 that he could kick his ass at arm-wrestling. All the Medium-sized dude’s friends bet heavy on him as well, and everyone else at the bar thought they were all out of their minds so they took those bets.

    The typical match went down like this: Medium-sized guy would hold his ground for about a minute or so as Monster-sized guy struggled. After a solid minute, he would start to slowly lose ground, inch by inch until his arm was held back at a 45-degree angle, and everyone thought he was done for. At this point he would stop dead, as the Monster-guy struggled to finish him. With his right arm still bent back 45-degrees, Medium-sized guy would casually reach into his shirt pocket for his cigarette pack, pull one out, put it in his mouth, put the pack back in his pocket, light it, take one drag and then SLAM the big guy’s hand all the way back to the other side like he was arm-wrestling a small child. Then they’d all collect their money and go to a different bar to spend it. They never had any trouble collecting because at this point no one in the bar is about to start shit with Medium-sized guy.

    This may render Stallone’s winning against larger opponents slightly more plausible, but since it only makes sense if you’ve heard this story that my dad tells and presume that Stallone’s character has an unmentioned past working in oil fields I’m still gonna chalk it up to the movie being silly.

  15. I actually had the Over the Top Sly action figure. Seeing that picture brought back memories of my tenth birthday party at Pizza Hut and opening it up and screaming “YESSSSS”! Needless to say, I love this movie.

    BTW: Terry Funk also choreographed the street fight in Rocky V.

  16. One Guy From Andromeda

    August 13th, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    @Hunter D.
    I’m pretty sure that shot’s in the movie. Maybe i’m gonna rewatch it (at least the competition part).
    On the other hand i routinely mix up Goldblum, Stallone and Tilda Swinton (which one was in Mission 2 Mars??) so you might have a point there ; )

  17. I, too, had the Stallone Over the Top figure. You turn the knob on the back to make him arm wrestle. I remember that thing being hard as a damn rock and heavy too. You could probably use it as a club if you wanted to.

  18. That bone-poppin’ out of the arm shot messed me up when I was a kid too…

    So did Anthony Michael Hall trapped under the glass table in Sixteen Candles, though that one makes less sense.

  19. I think you guys are right about there being smaller guys who are deceptively strong, but I don’t think they could beat these behemoths in the movie who are actual arm wrestling champions in real life. I do think Bruce Lee could beat them up, but I don’t think he would win the arm wrestling match. But I’m open to being wrong.

    And we can discuss the racial themes of In the Heat of the Night later on, please. Give OVER THE TOP a chance to be discussed first.

  20. Vern – that HEAT shit was only two postings. And nobody else cared it seems so far. Dont worry this is OVER THE TOP’s time and day.

    Anyway, wasn’t OVER THE TOP one of those big pricey movies in the late 80s which caused Golan/Globus those cash-strapped Israelis to go drastically cut SUPERMAN IV’s budget to shit?

    I mean using black curtains for “outer space” ? Jeez.

  21. Man, this is one of Vern’s funniest reviews. Call me crazy, but having just seen The Expendables (and thought it was only OK) – I actually think Over the Top was better shot, edited and just generally better made. I mean, I enjoyed Expendables and all, but it really did have this straight-to-video look and vibe about it.

  22. Vern, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Driven. I’m a huge Stallone fan and defender, but Driven has got to be the worst, stupidest movie he’s ever done. Worse than Judge Dredd or D-Tox/Eye See You. You don’t like Fast and the Furious races? The Nascar ones are dumber.

    I haven’t seen Over the Top since I was a kid. I’ve always meant to catch it again from an adult perspective, especially since it’s on Blu Ray. But here we are. I don’t remember most of the stuff in your recap but it sounds wildly misguided in an awesome way.

  23. “And we can discuss the racial themes of In the Heat of the Night later on, please.”

    Eh? Did we ever? And talking of which…

    neal2zod, while I agree that this was a great review, we do not discuss the Expendables in this forum! House rules, you know!

    (There you are, Vern, saved you a job.)

  24. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 14th, 2010 at 4:35 am

    Harker. That story about your Dad and his oil rigger budies, hustling dollar out of yokles… that is just about the coolest thing I have ever heard! They should make a movie out of that!

  25. Harker: GREAT story, man. Thanks for sharing that. Badass move with the cigarettes!

    Vern: Thanks for a great review and moreover for your opening paragraph extolling Real Wrestling. As a former wrestler, I was overjoyed to arrive at the site this morning and see your words praising the skill and technique inherent in a wrestling match. I’ve always thought it’s sort’ve the Western World’s native martial art, and in the best wrestlers inspires the same kind of semi-mystical philosophy and utter devotion.

    It’s also been pretty neglected by Hollywood. There’s VISIONQUEST (not great), BORN ON THE 4th OF JULY (the best wrestling match on film, but only a small part of the overall movie) and that’s kinda it…

  26. Not seen this, but Vern’s review makes it seem worth it for the ridiculousness. What does the title refer to though? The Over The Top depiction of the sport? His son showing up inspiring him to win, so in other words he “put it over the top” for him? Is it an arm wrestling term?

  27. Awesome story, Harker! Sounds like a great premise for the inevitable HUSTLER remake. Make sure they give your dad a story credit when that happens.

  28. Sydney Poitier might not have had the best biceps for arm wrestling, but he sure could slap a dude good.

    Stu, this movie is common knowledge among many of my friends & acquaintances, and we often note the tightening of the fist grip & the sudden drastic curl of

  29. the wrist that allows sure victory in a match. Indeed, that is OVER THE TOP. Geez, don’t let so many peeps know you’re in the dark on this.

  30. I may be wrong , but isn’t this the movie with the guy chewing on a cigar ? I think it is , and that was pretty funny. That was the kind of shit that made an impression on me as a kid. Cigar-eating.

    I was also thinking that Stallone often has one-of-a-kind , eating-related conversations in his movies that I remember for some reasons:
    the bullygoat+puke-eating training , the Ratburger in Demolition man ( a commonly used word for me in everyday life) , the cigar-eating and in the Italian version of Rocky 4 , right before the fight with Drago , you can hear Apollo say that “he’s even ready to eat some bugs”(I don’t know the lines in English , because I’ve never seen it in the original language).That’s enough material to write a Sly-related cookbook : “Eating with Stallone : Bugs , Cigars and Rats”.

  31. I always heard that this was just a how-to movie about getting custody of your kid through obscure sports. Im glad to hear that its much more than that. I’m gonna have to check it out now, thanks Vern. Could you please review ” No Holds Barred” starring Hulk Hogan and Tiny Liston? You wont regret it. I think theres a whole untapped wrestler turned actor series with Hulk Hogans films of the early 90’s.

  32. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. But I’m glad you did this movie. I love it.

    I got a treat for you Vern and everyone who had a problem with the size of the guys or thought there is not much to arm wrestling. There is an excellent doco at the level of Beyond the Mat into the super serious world of arm wrestling called Pulling John. Check out the trailer:


    This doco is seriously filled with heart. It’s brilliantly produced to not just be a great insight into arm wrestling, but man it introduces several characters of the arm wrestling world and gets you so invested that I was on the edge of my seat at some points, and at others cheering and punching the air. One of the characters the film focuses on is the legendary John Brzenk who played a cameo in Over the Top. John’s not in the heaviest class but arm wrestling championships are quite unique in that they pit the best of each class against each other as well. John not only smashed all the behemoths who came his way – but he did it for over 20 years!!!

    In terms of production, Pulling John is one of the greatest documentaries I’ve seen. I had to look up all the arm wrestlers in it straight after the movie to see how they went since the doco was made. Dun think I ever did that before. Serious gem.

  33. Man, even that trailer is a gem. I only just watched it. Curious if anyone watches that but then DOESN’T want to see the doco.

  34. AU – I’ll arm wrestle ya for it.

    You know, considering the 1980s, I’m shocked we didn’t get a OVER THE TOP video game for the NES. From LJN.

  35. cosmosmariner1979

    August 14th, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    OMFG. Thank you, Vern. I remember hating the grandpa – I thought he was a major league douchebag, and I wanted Sly to totally bitchslap that kid.

    Hilarious review. :)

  36. You’re right, Armageddon, that trailer was pretty great! Definitely want to check that movie out now.

    In reference to a question posed earlier, yes “over the top” is a technique that Stallone uses to defeat his opponents. And I love how that phrase has now come to mean something that is ridiculous and exceedingly extravagant.

    Another goofy thing in this movie is that nobody can seem to agree on whether Stallone’s character is named “Hawk” or “Hawks”.

  37. RRA : Oh my god , LJN ! That was the software house with the fucking rainbow , right ? They are the absolute kings of horrible games on the NES. I remember their X-men game , goddamn that was bad .

    Also , in related Stallone-eating-and-drinking studies , I discovered this :


    The Expendables drinks ! I think I will find the ingredients to do at least the first one before going to see the movie , out in cinemas here in Italy on the 3rd of September . Yeah , I still have more than 2 weeks to wait . But I can kill time drinking !

  38. RJ-“Another goofy thing in this movie is that nobody can seem to agree on whether Stallone’s character is named “Hawk” or “Hawks”.”
    Maybe that’s the inspiration for the recurring Futurama character who keeps mixing up his singular and plural words. One of his jobs was a trucker.
    “Sorrys ma’am. I’ve learnsed a lesson about not ogling cans that I won’t soons forgets.”

  39. Val Kilmer's Elbow

    August 14th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    PULLING JOHN is fantastic. I don’t mean to deprive Vassiliki Khonsari and Sevan Matossian of any well-deserved royalties, but someone named “getbig” has posted the entire film on the Japanese version of YouTube:


    You can’t miss this one. No excuses.

    As for OVER THE TOP, I watched it so many times in my formative years that I can recite entire passages verbatim. Also, I wanted to be John Grizzly when I grew up. To me, there was nothing more badass than chewing and swallowing your cigar. “I ain’t got time to smoke!”

  40. Huh. Your write-up of the plot actually reminds me a lot of DUTCH, but for the arm wrestling. Guess the whole “crappy dad bonds with son over a road trip” was a popular plot in the late 80s.

  41. Good call M. Casey. And I remember at the time thinking Dutch wasn’t as bad as everyone said. It was solid John Hughes, a little Plains, Trains and a little male Pretty in Pink. I was also 12.

  42. Over The Top is pure, concentrated cheese, remember the guy at the arm wrestling competition who wears a shirt with a picture of a great white shark and text that reads simply “awesome”?

    also DRIVEN is just plain horrid

  43. […] Over the Top | The Life and Art of Vern […]

  44. I love this movie. It’s so much fun, and it’s about arm wrestling. 80’s hand grenade.

  45. O.K. obviously by the way you talk about it u have absolutely no idea about what strength is. It does not have anything to do with the size of your muscles its about how much muscle fiber a person can activate in their body. Just because someone has bigger muscles then another doesn’t mean anything about strength. Thats why there is “strength” training and “body-building” two completely different things. This movie wasn’t citizen kane but what do you expect. People don’t go to the movies to see a Stallone flick for the extraordinary acting. Just like people don’t go to a horror movie to fall in love. You should really find another hobby besides reviewing movies, because you suck at it. All you do is try to shit on movies that aren’t that bad. I’d really like to see you do better.

  46. Stu the “over the top” reference is basically an arm wrestling move in which you try to tighten your grip over your opponents hand. Its debatable if it really helps that much but it was like Stallone’s little secret weapon in the movie, kinda korny really. But yea the guy who was talking about the oil driller, your totally right. When i was 16 i could beat guys in arm wrestling that were twice my age and size, some people just have abnormal forearm strength. Its all about explosive power not muscle size. I hardly ever work out and for some reason i was only ever beaten a couple times, and surprisingly it wasn’t by the bigger guys it was by the guys like my size. A great example is that arm wrestling docu that someone posted. The guy who is the champ isin’t big at all. But he is strong.

  47. This always reminds me of the SNL skit with Stallone saving Norm MacDonald, and all he can do is bash OVER THE TOP to the point where Sly gets agitated and hits him while he’s down on the ground, near death.

  48. Back when SNL still had the occasional good sketch. “Stop, stop Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot…sucked”.

  49. I remember watching that episode live (Jamiroquai was the musical guest, so I don’t need to tell you this was from 1997), and thought it was top-to-bottom hilarious. That and the Orange Julius sketch in particular.

  50. One thing that really bugged me about the IMDB trivia was this:

    “John Wetton, lead singer of the rock group Asia, sang “Winner Takes It All” for the movie, but after performing the song, it was felt that his voice wasn’t “mean” enough, so the song was offered to Sammy Hagar, whose version ended up being the one on the soundtrack.”

    Wetton also sang for King Crimson in the 70’s, and his voice was quite mean and harsh on a few of the tracks (look up the track “The Great Deciever” and see what I mean). Compared to Mr. Cabo Wabo, it’s insulting to even think that.

  51. But it worked out just fine, because Hagar’s version is awesome. As great as “Heat of the Moment” is, I can’t imagine the dude from Asia launching into the chorus with as much unconsidered meathead gusto.

  52. I’ll have to listen to it again. The only song I remember from the movie was the Kenny Loggins (who last I heard was doing nursery rhymes) one.

  53. Having heard it again, Mr. M is right. It’s kind of a weird arrangement though. I think it’s a Moroder piece and you can hear his influence in spots but it’s mostly a rock track. And Asia do have one song on the soundtrack so it wasn’t a total loss, though I’m sure it didn’t matter much to Wetton anyway lol.

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