Home Video Hovel- No Holds Barred, by Tyler Smith
Thomas J. Wright’s No Holds Barred– recently released on Blu Ray by WWE Studios- is the story of a professional wrestler trying to hold on to his integrity in the face of extreme pressure. And it is so astonishingly stupid that it is almost experimental. The film has wrestling in its bones! Its decidedly lowbrow sense of humor, combined with its over-the-top melodrama and random violence makes it feel as though the entire story took place inside a wrestling ring, where such theatrics are completely expected.
It is a film that, upon initial reflection, appears to pander so shamelessly to its audience that it’s a wonder nobody ever looks at the camera and says, “You guys are the best.” By way of an example, I’ll talk about the villains of the film. They are not merely shady characters, out for their own selfish interests. They are sleazy, egotistical, and aggressive, but in their hearts they know they’re really small-dicked cowards who shit their pants at the first sign of trouble.
I realize it may seem as though I’m being hyperbolic, but I’m not. In the film, the villains are literally made fun of for having small penises. And, in another scene, a treacherous limo driver transports our hero into an ambush, and watches fearfully as the hero beats his attackers into submission. When he turns his attention to the limo driver, the driver soils himself. By the way, would you like to know what he limo driver’s name is? Dukey. Get it?!
But, hang on now. Just when we think we’ve got the film pegged, it throws us a curve ball. For a while, I thought the film was content to just demonize the laughable Beta Male, with his girlish distaste for violence. But, no, there’s plenty of room for all kinds of ridiculous characters, namely wrestlers and their fans. The very same man that pointed out the smallness of the villains’ genitals is himself viewed by the film as a stupid redneck who is often repellent to even look at. And he’s just one example of the sociopaths and inbred hicks that choose to wrestle for a living.
So, after a while, I found myself asking, “Exactly whom is this film for?” The writers and director seem to have disdain for literally every character in the film. Nobody really gets away clean. Ah, but then it came to me.
The film was released as a way to properly launch Hulk Hogan’s acting career (having played supporting roles in a handful of films previously), and that goal is never forgotten. In every single scene, we are either being reminded of how wonderful Hogan is or how awful everybody else is. His laid back demeanor in the face of danger, his passion for charity work, and his chivalrous forgiveness of his traitorous girlfriend (yes, even the romantic interest is a terrible person) only serve to remind us that this man is virtually perfect. In fact, his only flaw seems to be that he is reliant- either emotionally or financially- on the fallen wretches around him.
The incredible simplicity of this story and its execution are what make No Holds Barred something more than merely bad. Certainly, it is a bad movie, but it veers almost immediately into camp territory. What with the long list of movies that have achieved so-bad-they’re-good status, it surprises me that this film isn’t on there. It deserves to be. The next time you and your friends are having a Bad Movie Night, but you’ve already seen Troll 2 or The Room or Plan 9 from Outer Space, I would wholeheartedly recommend No Holds Barred. It is just too stupid to be forgotten.