In 1988, Vince McMahon
and Hulk Hogan
were eager to take a step into Hollywood. Hogan was at the height of his popularity in the WWE
(then WWF), and in fact, he did have some acting experience, most notably in Rocky III
as Thunderlips. Having Hogan star in his own major motion picture seemed like a natural progression, so Hogan took some time off from wrestling while Randy Savage
was champion. McMahon and Hogan collaborated as executive producers, and unleashed No Holds Barred
upon the public in 1989.
Hogan stars as Rip, an extremely popular professional wrestler (no, really!) who appears to be a monster in the ring but is actually a kind, honorable man outside of it.
Brell (Kurt Fuller), the evil head of the World Television Network
, is tired of being last in the ratings, so he makes an attempt to lure Rip over to his network, blank check and all. Rip isn't interested, and even fends off a series of Mooks
hired by Brell to take him out (leading to the infamous scene where a limo driver craps his pants in fear). Undaunted, Brell creates his own wrestling organization
entitled Battle Of The Tough Guys, filled with bikers and rednecks who engage in glorified bar fights. And thus, Brell discovers Zeus
(Tom "Tiny" Lister), a beast of a man
who seems impervious to pain. (And also screams. A lot.) It's not long before Zeus and Brell are challenging Rip to a match. Meanwhile, Brell sends one of his staff, Samantha, to follow Rip around and seduce him, but she winds up falling for him instead.
Hulk's movie career didn't quite take off as hoped as a result of No Holds Barred
, as while it just about broke even, it was critically savaged upon release for its acting and dialogue. It seemed like an Old Shame
for those involved until 2012, when the movie finally
saw a DVD release.
No Holds Barred provides examples of:
- The Ace: "RRRRRRRRRRIP!!!"
- Anger Montage: Rip goes to Zeus' gym for one of these after Zeus sends Rip's little brother to the hospital.
- Brell gets one of his own during the climactic fight.
- Attempted Rape: One of Brell's Mooks to Samantha.
- Bad-Guy Bar: Where Brell gets his idea for Battle of the Tough Guys. Includes disgusting rednecks, a crude wrestling ring, and a random monkey-like man in a cage throwing peanut shells in your beer.
- That's Peter Dinklage's first on-screen role.
- Big Ol' Unibrow: That thing on Zeus is something to behold.
- Bring My Brown Pants: The limo driver near the beginning after Rip defeats all his buddies. "WHAT'S THAT SMELL?"
- The Brute: Zeus, again.
- The Cameo: Since the movie has a fictionalized version of the WWF, it's no surprise to see Howard Finkel, Gene Okerlund and Jesse "The Body" Ventura show up.
- More surprising is a cameo by Stan Hansen, who wasn't in the WWE at the time.
- Catch Phrase: "RIP 'EM!"
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Holy crap, Brell. If C. Montgomery Burns didn't exist, Brell would would be the Trope Image.
- Disgusting Public Toilet: One in the Bad-Guy Bar. Complete with some psycho hiding in a stall trolling for teeny weenies.
- Disney Villain Death
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Just before Samantha falls asleep, she hears weird, repetitive grunting noises coming from Rip's side of the hotel room. But it's cool: Rip's just doing pushups.
- Finishing Move: Interestingly, Rip's finishing move is a double axe-handle, which is Hulk Hogan's real-life finisher when wrestling in Japan.
- Food Fight: Rip's counterattack towards an armed robbery at his favorite restaurant. Yeah.
- It's Personal
- Kick the Dog: This movie has gone out of its way to make the antagonists as despicable as humanly possible. Zeus had beaten up Rip's brother Randy to a point where he can't walk and to add insult to injury, he punched him of his wheelchair and kicked him while he was on the ground. Brell has gone from a Smug; Corrupt Corporate Executive to abusive, by having his old employee Samantha raped by his mooks for actually caring about Rip, hiring goons to attack Rip just because he had the audacity to say no to Brell, letting Zeus cripple Rip's Brother and blackmailing Rip to throw a match.
- Large Ham: To say Tiny Lister handles the role with No Indoor Voice would be an understatement. Even his whispering is hammy.
- Of course, Brell is amazingly over the top himself.
- Moral Guardians: In-universe example — some groups and families complain about Brell's "Battle of the Tough Guys". Brell's response? "They WATCHED it, didn't THEY?"
- Mundane Made Awesome: The prize for winning the Battle of the Tough Guys was one hundred thousand dollars... TAX-FREE.
- No Sell
- Obviously Evil: Brell just rubs his evilness right in your face.
- Only One Name: Barely any of the main characters seem to have last names, or in Brell's case, a first name.
- The Paralyzer: Zeus' forearm shots.
- Pro Wrestling Is Real
- Psychopathic Manchild: Zeus. He was only recently released from prison after killing someone after the bell in a match.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: As is Hulk Hogan's trademark in the ring.
- Scary Black Man Who Screams All The Time
- Show Within a Show: Brell's Battle Of The Tough Guys.
- Shirtless Scene: It's a wrestling movie!
- Teeny Weenie: The redneck in the bar's restroom mocked two of Brell's partners for their minuscule manhoods.
- There Is Only One Bed: The motel scene with Rip and Samantha.
- Vanilla Edition: The 2012 DVD release, which doesn't contain a trailer, any behind the scenes features, or even an acknowledgement of Tom "Tiny" Lister's WWE career.
- Averted with the 2014 Blu-Ray. While the features are still miniscule, there at least are features: the two WWF matches made to promote the film, and a photo gallery.
- Villainous Breakdown: Brell as Zeus continues to get beaten around by Rip at the end.
- Would Hit a Girl: Brell and Zeus both manhandle women at some point.
- Wrestling Monster