Netflix Film of the Week: Over the Top

The FILM IN WORDS Netflix Film of the Week: helping you navigate the filmic minefield of the nation’s favourite video streaming service.

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Words: Emmett Barlow
Twitter: @EmmettBarlow

THE GUN SHOW

“unhappy the land that is in need of heroes”. Bertolt Brecht, The Life of Galileo

It’s difficult to deny that the culture of the ‘hero’ has come to form a central crux of contemporary culture’s narratives; from the everyday man, to the admired comic-book hero, to the prejudicial anti-hero. But if you do pity today’s plague of polished protagonists and you yearn for one more tangible, than look no further than our selection for Netflix Film of the Week.

In tandem with a series of features where The Guardian’s film critics are bravely publishing their cinematic guilty pleasures, I give you mine and ask you to dust off your testosterousers, oil up them lats, traps, biceps and triceps and indulge in a cinematic adventure of the ultimate hero; one who champions himself in the obscurest of American pastimes, the red-blooded pursuit of Arm Wrestling.

After becoming world heavyweight champion and the one-man military monster, Sly Stallone takes a turn here as Lincoln Hawk, the lone trucker roaming the western states of America earning his keep not only in logistics, but also as the man to beat in the smoke-filled and Y-chromosome heavy haunts along the American highways.

Whilst his estranged wife is hospitalised, Hawk takes temporary custody of his son, Michael. Having been out contact for nearly a decade, and having lived a life of luxury under the care of his grievous and tyrannical Grandfather (surprisingly played by Robert Loggia), Michael turns to slumming it in the cab of Hawks hauler. After a death, a short stay in prison, a front garden getting ruined, a narrative turn puts Hawk in the position where he’s no longer arm wrestling for money, but also a new truck, pride and the custody of his son.

In contemporary mainstream cinema generally the final fifteen to twenty minutes are filled with CGI laden, vertigo inducing 3D mega sequences. For me it is a genuine reprieve to watch a film whose final set piece doesn’t include the central protagonist partaking in the destruction of an entire city. Over the Top is a quintessentially 80’s guilt movie, in the same leagues of Bloodsport, Black Rain and Roadhouse; films that were last seen bouncing around on VHS with flared van-art style covers, deterring those of the Marvel generation, but are now available on demand and demand to be seen.

For those staying up till the early hours next Sunday for WrestleMania XXX this will dutifully fill some time before the men in tights come out in the WWE’s flagship night. In addition, for the more dedicated ones among you will welcome the brief appearance of wrestling royalty Terry Funk as one of Loggia’s henchmen.

 Over the Top is available on Netflix UK now.

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