Over the Top (1987) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

There is no intellectual defense that could hide the fact that Over the Top is a bad movie. It bombed in theaters. Stallone has routinely criticized the final product. And it was directed by B-movie maestro Menahem Golan. His intention was to apparently give arm wrestling the “Rocky” treatment. Even giving Stallone an industry high pay-check to insure the film’s success. It didn’t work…for most people. I grew up with this movie and have always carried a certain affection for it. From the rock songs, to the corny relationships, and the brief running-time–Over the Top was always a go-to-flick for me. I remember seeing it as a kid and wishing that Stallone was my dad and then he would teach me the secrets of bulging biceps and arm wrestling.

Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) is a truck driver who dabbles in the underground world of competitive arm-wrestling. His dying ex-wife (Susan Blakely) has requested that Lincoln pick up their estranged 12 yr. old son from his military school and drive cross-country to her bed side. This will give father and son time to bond and work out their family drama. The boy (David Mendenhall) is a bratty snob who sides with his politically influential grandfather (Robert Loggia) in dismissing Lincoln as trash.

The kid’s opinion about his dad begins to change after witnessing his father partake in an arm wrestling match at a roadside diner. The film’s main villain, a towering hulk of a man named Bull Harley (Rick Zumwalt), is introduced and a later match is set for the finals in Vegas. Big money, self-respect, and the love of his son are on the table as Lincoln and Bull eventually engage in competition against one another in the circus atmosphere of Las Vegas.

The 2.5 star rating should be adjusted down a star if you were born after 1997. For me this idiotic family/action film still hits the right notes. Particularly during the finale when a slow motion shot of Stallone winning is accompanied by the opening chords of Robin Zander’s “In this Country”. Over the Top could have used more of these moments, but the movie survives on the charisma of its star and the sheer lunacy of its central conflict and concept.

Director: Menaham Golan
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia David Mendenhall

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