(and a huge guy, and an older man)
Sly Stallone is Hawk, a truck-driving estranged father with a difficult, but thoroughly unexplained history. His wife is dying (again – no clear explanation) and in an effort to reintroduce her son to his father, she has Hawk pick up his son from the military academy at the end of the term. Together, they drive cross-country to see his hospitalized mother.
Clearly a buddy film.
But there’s more. Although not particularly good at anything else, Hawk is an up and coming star in the trucker-centric world of arm wrestling. In this film, every Pilot station across the nation is populated by enraged arm wrestlers gathered around special arm wrestling tables just waiting for something to happen.
Bull is a generic big, mean, threatening figure that represents the ‘boss fight’ of the movie. We learn about this fight early in the film as the arm wrestlers all talk about who’s going to have who for lunch at Vegas.
OK, so it’s an action film.
Granddad decided that he wants the boy for his own and is damned if he doesn’t get what he wants. Something I find humorous about this is that the grandfather, Jason, is apparently extraordinarily rich and runs a big business – yet all his time is spent chasing this kid around. And, even at that, he’s not very successful.
Maybe a family film.
In support of this last idea that Over The Top is a family film, there are a lot of lessons, in fact, it’s a storm of clichés – most set to music.
“The world meets nobody halfway” – Hawk
(Meet me halfway – theme song from Kenny Logins that’s too boring to include here)
The chorus from Winner Takes it All:
‘Cause winner takes it all, loser takes a fall
Fight to the beginning of the end
Winner takes it all, till he breaks the fall
In time he’ll make it over the top, hey
– Sammy Haggar (with Eddie Van Halen)
A possibly more confusing morals from some of the contenders:
“I’m not too enthused about people coming up to pat me on the back saying you’re the best”
-Mad Dog Madison
And, from Bull:
Cinematically, Over the Top features some incredible slow motion scenes of arm wrestling accompanied by folly art of tree limbs creaking and cracking. It doesn’t hold a candle to last night’s film, Earthquake, that featured John Shaft as a motorcycle stuntman performing at 1.5X as if the audience couldn’t tell. I hate to say it, but we’re all familiar with gravity. Speeding things up just makes gravity look too rapid.
I did learn one thing from watching this film. It’s loosely based on a real person, John Brzenk, Guinness Book of World Record’s Greatest Arm Wrestler of all time. I guess a little guy can actually beat these hulking behemoths. Why knew?
By the way, John gives a great interview on what it is like to be a champion arm wrestler here. He seems like an incredibly sincere guy.
The only thing keeping this film from an unprecedented 10 stars was the lack of a comic scene to send Hawk and Son off into the sunset.
I would have written it something like this…
EXT. CASINO PARKING LOT – NIGHT
Closer to the casino, the parking lot is crowded with arm wrestlers and their fans leaving the casino. In the foreground, the lot is empty except for the grand prize truck.
Distant sounds of men and women shouting.
Hawk and son walking to their new truck, Hawk holding his son, Mike’s hand on one side and the championship cup in the other.
Spotlights reflecting from the truck gives the impression of the two riding into the sunset
(distant, but audible)
I never doubted you for a second.
(distant, but audible)
Well, at least that’s one of us.
(both laugh, but only just audibly)
A CRUNCH of glass underfoot offscreen to the left
Grandfather’s Evil Bodyguard #1
Where do you think you’re going with the boy, Hawk?
Camera angle changes to include two bodyguards (#1 )
Listen fellas. Haven’t we gone through this enough.
A third bodyguard grabs Hawk from behind
Hawk drops the trophy and lets go of his son.
Bodyguard #2 grabs the boy
Bodyguard #1 punches Hawk in the stomach; Hawk goes down to one knee.
Camera Angle Changes to focus on JASON Cutler, Mike’s grandfather and MIKE
JASON holds MIKE from behind
Bodyguard #1 kicks HAWK to the ground
Bull Hurley looms large behind JASON
Bull drops a heavy hand on JASON’s shoulder
What are you doing with that kid?
He’s my grandson.
HAWK flings his head back into the face of Bodyguard#1 freeing himself
BULL grabs Bodyguard #1 and #2 by the shoulders pushing them to the ground.
JASON is in the background sprawled on the ground and looking dazed but not badly hurt.
HAWK gets up, spins around and sees BULL in charge of the situation.
You got me this year.
But I’ll own you next year.
I owe you one Bull.
See you around.
CAMERA change to HAWK taking his son’s hand and walking off toward the truck
But I own you two right now.
CAMERA pulls away
Word has it Sly has been in Canada researching a similar film highlighting another obscure sport, curling. Working title: ‘Canadian Sliders’