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Blu-ray Review: ‘No Holds Barred’ – For Fans Only

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As one of those individuals who was but a wee boy in the ’80s, I admit to having gone through that phase of being fascinated with what people oxymoronically refer to as “professional wrestling.” I had a couple of those weird rubber action figure things, watched both the aired matches as well as the Saturday morning cartoon, rented those now-collectible Coliseum Videos at the mom and pop rental stores, and even possessed a magazine that you had to collect all of the sticker/stamp pieces to in order to prove that you truly were a really silly boy after all (it’s no wonder I didn’t have a girlfriend until high school).

To this day I don’t know why I did it. Perhaps I fully realized it was as phony as a three-dollar bill (and just as suspect) but simply did not bother to care on account of how ridiculous it all was. Thankfully, I managed to wean myself of that decidedly bad spell when I was still very young, as it ultimately isn’t something one should waste their time on. Mind you, once, last year, I spent the nights and weekends over the course of several months synching up seven different audio tracks to a epically-awful anti-classic Superman rip-off. But that’s beside the point, of course: my argument here is that wrasslin’ is just a bunch of malarkey.

no-holds-barred-1989-blu-ray-review-blogcriticsAnd I am quite grateful that I ceased anything even remotely resembling adulation to “professional wrestling” when I did. For one thing, I avoided the late ’90s/early ’00s explosion of this overrated non-sport for white trash folk before it transitioned from a semi-bloated World Wrestling Federation to an extremely-full-of-itself World Wrestling Entertainment banner. But more importantly, I managed to miss the theatrical debut of No Holds Barred when it was beget unto the world by what is surely the will of Satan.

Fortunately for the world, it appeared that the awful 1989 wrasslin’ flick died a slow, deservedly peaceful death along with the demise of the analog era. Sadly, ’twas not the end. In 2012, WWE guru Vince McMahon and his company digitally-remastered the film for an exclusive DVD release – and now, in 2014, a High-Definition release of the title on Blu-ray has paved way for at least a thousand years of darkness. Imagine if you will what might happen were you to take Rocky IV and strip it of its dignity. Now if that isn’t enough to send chills up your spine, picture casting Rocky III‘s co-star Hulk Hogan in his first starring role – before any sort of acting classes he may have paid for!

Yes, it’s bad, but that’s the very reason most people like No Holds Barred, now isn’t it? Here, Hulk stars as a WWF champ with a heart of gold named Rip, whose just-as-sell-of-a-guy brother Randy (Mark Pellegrino) gets beat up by a rival wrassler (Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Jr.), and decides to engage said bad guy in a battle that goes beyond the ring and well into the arena of absurdity. Joan Severance and Kurt Fuller co-star, and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura appear as themselves in this unintentional laughfest that Hogan and McMahon reportedly rewrote over the course of 72 frantic hours when they realized the first draft they received was a pile of shit.

Miraculously, the movie seemed as if it were going to be almost as popular as the still-popular Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when it opened to screens nationwide in 1989. Luckily, the public joined in the assessment of the critics that perhaps those long 72 hours of rewrites perhaps weren’t enough.

As No Holds Barred was made during that point in time when movies were still shot on film, film was still actual film, and budgets were still reflective on the kind of said film, a high-definition presentation would not present the movie in the most beautiful of manners. Indeed, Image’s Blu-ray is a grainy, pale, and noisy affair – one that might be labeled as merely viewable at best. Likewise, the accompanying DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is a rather lackluster affair, suggesting the WWE folks behind the remastering consisted of little more than copying and pasting channels. In terms of bonus materials, No Holds Barred features two retro TV wrestling matches in Standard-Def and a photo gallery.

For fans only.

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.