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Be Kind Rewind - Go Over and Above!

By Michael Nazarewycz

The '80s saw its share of testosterone-fueled films (action, sports, war, etc.) and the heroes of those films took on many forms ... from Vietnam vets to hotshot pilots to washed up athletes to everyday guys like you and me ... if everyday guys like you and me know martial arts. The most common hero (at least anecdotally, it seems) was the cop, and the least common, at least for me, was the truck-driving arm-wrestler. Regardless, all of the heroes of the 1980s went “over and above” in their pursuit of righteousness, justice, and glory.


Over the Top (1987)Over the Top
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Robert Loggia, Susan Blakely, and David Mendenhall
Directed by Menahem Golan

Sly Stallone, riding the successful waves of the Rocky and Rambo films, plays against type in his portrayal of Lincoln Hawk, a truck driver who is also a competitive arm wrestler. Really. When his ex-wife (Blakely) dies, Hawk attempts to reunite with the son he abandoned (Mendenhall), much to the dismay of the boy’s controlling and wealthy grandfather (Loggia). Only a victory at a national arm wrestling tournament in Las Vegas will secure their father/son future. For my money, this is the Film With the Most Out-of-Place Song: “Meet Me Half Way” by Kenny Loggins is a beautiful tune that seems entirely misused here.

Above the Law (1988)Above the Law
Starring Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, and Sharon Stone
Directed by Andrew Davis

Nico Toscani (Seagal) is a Chicago cop, a martial arts master, and ex-CIA, which makes him an action hero triple-threat. He also has the benefit of having a wife played by Sharon Stone and a partner played by Pam Grier, so he has the action beauties to go with all of that action brawn. When an old CIA crony (Silva) causes trouble of the “major drug ring” kind, Nico saves the day while kicking gratuitous amounts of hindquarters. This was a good action movie and quite the debut for the ponytailed Seagal, who parlayed the film into a series of slowly degrading (in quality) action films that fit the "finish the sentence" mold of titling: Steven Seagal is ... Above the Law ... Hard to Kill ... Marked For Death ... and so on. He had one more flash of action glory with 1992’s excellent Under Siege (itself the beneficiary of the popularity of the Die Hard structure of action films), but his career since then has been a parody of itself.

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