Over the Top - 1987
Over the Top is Cannon’s attempt of legitimacy. Through the years the focused on low budget genre movies, pumping out 30 films in a year having one explode at the box office to cover the cost of the rest. But they wanted more so they threw millions of dollars to the Italian Stallion Sylvester Stallone to star and co-write this movie. I will copy paste the plot from IMDB to save time in explaining the journey we are about to embark.
“Tough trucker Lincoln Hawk is determined to win back his son and triumph at the world arm wrestling championships.”
The opening sequence is Stallone cleaning his truck. He doesn’t let any single detail go untouched: windshield, undercarriage and tire shine on the wheels. Yet, the truck looks dirty in the next scene as he goes to pick-up his kid from his cadet graduation. This kid is a straight shooting, no “bs” kind of guy, you know, like all ten-year-olds that just met their father for the first time. He calls him “Sir” and tells his father when they go to a truck stop that “he has never liked the Zoo”. Burn!
They run into Smasher (yeah… that’s his name), a trucker who is pissed that nobody is talking about him and wants to dethrone the legend of Hawk. Hawk is Stallone. I failed to mention his name was Hawk, and that there is another dude named Bull. But back to Smasher and his goal of dethroning Hawk from his ARM WRESTLING THRONE. You know the one every kid growing up aspires to climb. They don’t want football, basketball or baseball, the real endgame to fame and fortune is arm wrestling.
There is an extremely, extremely, extremely disturbing sequence of Hawk and mini Sir doing exercises in front of the sunset. They use romantic music to score the training montage and it just creeped the hell out of me. This entire movie is riddled with rock ballads that don’t fit with the images playing in front of us. Hawk teaches his kid a lesson in humility by teaching him how to drive a truck. You know, a kid in the open road with an 80,000-pound killing machine. What’s the worst that could happen?
They start to bond over arm wrestling and their use of the “over the top” secret technique. Hawk has a rig set up in his truck where he can constantly train for his arm wrestling competitions. This is what we in the arm wrestling business like to call dedication.
OK, so I want to skip ahead to the competition, I don’t feel right making fun of the death of the kid’s mom or his ugly crying face. I don’t want to make fun of Hawk driving his truck through the grandfather’s mansion because he wants to see his son or him getting arrested and losing everything. This movie got real for a minute.
In the competition, winner gets a truck…. and money, you know everything our hero has lost. I guess life finds a way. Hawk places a bet on himself (20 to 1 odds) and the first-round montage begins. The production company must have saved a boatload of money in sleeves. There is no single competitor with a shirt that has sleeves. All have “over the top” personalities (get it?). They are animals, many of them reduced to grunts and screams. All of this is set to the Over the Top theme song. Side note: you know a movie is legit if it has its own theme song.
Don’t worry your pretty little head if you don’t know the rules to the competition, because rip-off Bruce Buffer will remind you every two seconds. This is a double elimination tournament, meaning you must lose twice before you are… well, eliminated. Stallone loses one of his matches versus Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan, but don’t worry, he still must lose once more, because it’s a double elimination tournament. Double. Elimination.
The kid steals a car, goes to the airport, buys a ticket, gets through security and gets on the plane all alone. I know back in the day things weren’t as security-heavy as today, but my god this is just ridiculous. He arrives just in time to give his dad the pep-talk he needs to overcome all the sweaty muscle-head men standing in the way of his truck/cash price victory.
The finals are set and its destiny: Hawk versus Bull, the match we have been dying to see from the very beginning. Both men are super sweaty, filled to the brim with testosterone and pride bound by only their powerful grips. Bull yells at Hawk trying to psych him out, but he has what every champion has… the love of his son. The love pushes Hawk OVER THE TOP… AH! I crack myself up… and he defeats Bull. He wins his son, the money and the truck. Wait, you might say. Isn’t this a double elimination match? you might ask. Isn’t that what you just explained two paragraphs ago? Never mind that, the credits are rolling.
Over the Top is the perfect representation of an 80’s movie. Watching Stallone’s famous stiff upper lip covered in sweat and anguish as he defeats almost every enemy he faces in the arm wrestling ring is why I love movies.
Over the Top is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. This is the best arm wrestling movie ever made and I will arm wrestle anybody that tries to say otherwise.
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