Over the Top (1987) – Menahem Golan

Sylvester Stallone stars in this corny, overly sentimental flick that is totally 80s. I know this because it features a song on the soundtrack by Kenny Loggins, and all the best movies of the 80s did.

This time around Sly is a truck driver, Lincoln Hawk who is planning in entering the world arm wrestling championship in Las Vegas in order to win a new truck/cab for his company (he’s the sole employee). He’s contacted by his ex-wife, Christina (Susan Blakely), who is dying of cancer, and wants him to finally get to know his young son, Micheal (David Mendenhall).

When he married Christina, he married out of his league, she’s well off, Micheal attends a military school, and has been looked after for years by his grandfather, Jason Cutler (Robert Loggia) who has a very low opinion of Hawk.

Hawk pinks up Michael from school and begins the cross country drive to take him home, and they slowly begin to bond after some initial resistance, and the reveal that Hawk has been writing and sending cards for years, something Micheal has never received – there’s a reveal a little later on that shows that Christina had been hiding them from him, but without a character arc for her, we don’t know what the thought process was other than a trigger for Micheal to pursue his own actions in the final act of the film.

Hawk obviously cares for Micheal, and has made the best effort to abide by his ex-wife’s wishes, but now that he has the chance, he plans to not only win Micheal over, but hopefully gain custody of him, something Cutler is vehemently opposed to, not to mention that there’s a legally binding contract that has been signed by Hawk to award Cutler custody.

But hey, we’re not worried about details like that in this type of 80s movies, it’s all about power ballads, Kenny Loggins, arm wrestling, and a boy’s love for his father, and that love returned. It’s so bad that it’s good, I actually got a kick out of it – and this is the first time I’ve watched it since the 80s.

There are plot holes, all manner of issues, and you can tell that there are things edited out which may have developed the supporting characters a little more, and perhaps filled in some plot issues.

The arm wrestling is exactly what you would expect from a movie of this type, I only have one issue… the announcer reminds us a number of times that it’s a double elimination bout, so if you get defeated once, you’re still in, but you lose twice, you’re gone.

Well the finale sees Hawk, who’s lost one bout, go up against, Smasher (Magic Schwarz), who has not lost a single bout. And yet Hawk only has to beat him…. once. Shouldn’t it be twice if it’s a double elimination? Never mind, Kenny Loggins is singing again.

Oh Sly…

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