What do you get when you put 80s up and coming skating legends like Mike McGill, Mark ”Gator” Rogowski, Rodney Mullen, Lance Mountain, Mike Vallely, Natas Kaupas, Tony Hawk and Tommy Guerrero into the same movie with young Christian Slater on the top of his game, mix it up with a kick ass soundtrack and Californian scenery?
A totally rad 80s action adventure movie – that’s what.
Gleaming the Cube is enjoyable on most of its aspects and a movie that offers tons of aspects that make it worth revisiting time and time again.
Blades – a silly movie about a killer lawnmower loose in a golf course sounds 100% like a Troma Entertainment production.
Or does it? Compared to the zany Troma movies of the earlier 80s, Blades feels almost playing it safe and trying to cater for some big enough niche audience: the creative anarchy is missing, but on the other hand Blades is actually quite well-rounded movie with some real budget and effort put into it. Even so that the silly machine antagonist feels like a faux pas, and the movie could have fared much better if it didn’t want to be so much tongue in cheek.
While the lack of a good baddie makes Blades a disappointment, it’s still an easy to watch and enjoyable disappointment for the most parts – especially if you are a golf aficionado. It was especially the shaky golf pro lead who was written as a counterweight for typical movie male characters that made Blades feel interesting and fresh.
It would seem that most of the pool hustler movies have also a strong scoundrel theme to them. So is the case also with The Baltimore Bullet.
The movie is pretty much unknown and does not hold a candle to the iconic hustler movies, but it’s a nice little exercise made better by the inclusion of a strong female protagonist, and Omar Sharif as the heinous pool shark.
A plus for the movie for actually depicting solid pool tricks, mostly performed by the actors themselves.
A talent scout talks a waitress into entering a sherry show wrestling team. She befriends this motley crew of journeymen, travels around with them, and finally is put against her arch enemy as the so called climax of the movie.
A Rocky this isn’t, nor is it All The Marbles that at least had the star power and indisputable charisma of Peter Falk going for it. In fact, if All The Marbles was a disappointing movie, Below the Belt does it all in a little more disappointing and banal way.
The most interesting part of below the belt is its love story between two worn out wrestlers in the crossroads of their lives where one wants to go in one direction – and one to another.
The one without wrestling.
What happens to that perfect college football hero and his beauty pageant girlfriend couple after they marry and grow up. This is what Taylor Hackford’s Everybody’s All-American aims to give an answer to.
Based on a 1981 novel of the same name by Frank Deford, Everybody’s All-American manages to avoid almost all of the clichés usually related to sports movies. Similarly its characters avoid falling into typical caricatures and show some actual humane traits.
I wasn’t sold on the final closure of the movie, but the road to there is filled with interesting, lifelike moments that feel nothing like pasted on.
Chuck, a star of his little league baseball team realises after a visit to nuclear missile silo how the world is in a balance of terror that might go off any minute, and refuses to throw another pitch until the nuclear arsenal in the world is gone. His boycott is then picked up by a local newspaper, after which an unexpected chain of events starts to unravel as a NBA star Amazing Grace Smith joins him, followed by other front row athletes.
Amazing Grace and Chuck is a beautiful fairy tale with great array of interesting personas and events. It grasped me from the get go, and I enjoyed it all the way to the end. So, it’s highly implausible – but the movie handles all this very well, finally wrapping up beautifully with a one single thought:
”But wouldn’t it be nice”
The plot is a mess that makes only little sense as it tries so provide the main character Martel ”Too Sweet” Gordone a motivation to get to the fighting ring. Martel trains for awhile, gets into the ring with some old hack, gets defeated and thus becomes the sensation of the nation everyone roots for. He then goes on to participate in a few fights, which are often cut to a gambling midget trying to get on with some hookers.
The plot makes as much sense as having Mr.T in the movie and reducing his role to a mere trainer that gets very little screen time although he possesses ten times the magnetism compared to the weak screen presence of the Kennedy in the lead role.
Bloodsport, one of the definite martial arts / sports movies of the 80s still delivers!
While Jean-Claude Van Damme’s career is patchy to say the least, it’s here that he is at his very best, presenting impressive moves and showing certain on screen charism. Donald Gibb feels at first like an odd match for Van Damme, but ends up making the movie much more memorable than a more conventional choice.
The movie is just the right amount over the edge and built to push all the right buttons for the fans of the genre; Bloodsport aims to entertain, and it does so with flying colors (and kicks).
American Flyers is a sports movie that tries a little something different to break the clichéd sports movie formula.
Problem is, it would’ve been a better sports movie if it didn’t so hard to come up with an excessive drama and the additional storyline that seemed only distracting and out of place to me. All of the drama between the two brothers feels really forced and is never quite explained in a satisfactory way.
As a sports movie American Flyers does well in depicting a bicycle race, making it look quite realistic and visually quite pleasing.
Here’s a movie that presents us with a big mystery, but does very little in explaining that mystery to us.
Furthermore, the movie seems to solely concentrate on glorifying the saintlike, handsome and talented Robert Redford. While Redford is a totally cool dude in my books, the movie offers very little else than him a pedestal performing miracles, expecting for us to stand in awe in front of his greatness.
I thought I was going to see a biographical movie – usually the most interesting approach to what it comes to sports movies – but it isn’t. It isn’t much of a sports movie either; they could’ve picked anything else they wished as Roy Hobbs’ super power. Like knitting, horse riding or firefighting.
For The Natural they decided to go with the baseball.
When it comes to the sports movies, it’s not about inevitable victory, but the journey there.
With Wildcats, a comedy led by the comedienne Goldie Hawn, the journey there is fun. Ups, downs, underdogs, goofs, training montages with awesome music – it’s all here!
Wildcats does not usually top the lists of the definite sports movies, but it definitely tops the list of the definite sports comedies of the 80s.
If we already had a neural network that could synthesize a generic movie by inputting a list of keywords Hot Dog… The Movie would likely to be an outcome of feeding it words like 80s, rental, downhill skiing, sex and comedy.
For better or worse, Hot Dog… The Movie is as generic as they come, providing things you’d expect it to have (partying, gratuitous nudity), but very little any positive surprises.
One silly piece of trivia for the movie has to be shared: James Saito who was cast to portray a generic Japanese athlete in the movie convinced the entire crew that the pig latin he spoke was actually Japanese, and it was only few weeks into shooting the movie that they figured out the bluff.
No Retreat, No Surrender takes a good portion of Karate Kid and mixes it up with Rocky – especially the fourth one – and manages to come up as a pretty fresh and entertaining competitive martial arts movie.
I always mistook the movie for Jean-Claude Van Damme’s vehicle, but instead he is seen portraying the role of a cocky baddie straight from USSR. The cold war aspect of the movie feels much, much more glued on than in Rocky IV, but in an 80s movie like this that’s just part of the fun, right?
The story itself concentrates on a young kid who practises karate and idolises Bruce Lee. After getting his ass handed to him by the bullies and running into clash with a syndicate and his father, he is visited by the spirit of Bruce Lee that teaches him the way of the Kung Fu.
The modern Bluray transfer reveals the shortcomings of the original film and the movie seems old beyond its years – not in a flattering way – so my recommendation is to hunt this one down as VHS instead.
A Top Gun equivalent of a motorcycle movie, Race for Glory features tons of speed, kick-ass soundtrack .. and your average, very predictable sports movie plot.
The movie is one of the very few Hollywood titles filmed in old continent that still looks fresh and American – in a good way! In fact, the luxurious international locations work really well and capture well all the excitement that surrounds the big motor sports events.
If you’re to watch Race for Glory, you should do it for mostly for the atmosphere for the plot follows a very predictable path without much surprises along the way.
USA national karate team goes against team Korea in Best of the Best, a totally ridiculous, unrealistic, sports movie about an unlikely karate team.
Sports movies can be a bore as they stick to the plot of an underdog making it through difficulties to the final victory and then try to masquerade this one way or another. Best of the Best on the other hand does not shy away from clichés, it fully embraces them: There’s the unlikely team, an old shoulder injury that you know will come back haunting later, over the top acting, and a final showdown with an opponent guilty of killing your brother! The only thing missing from the arsenal of clichés is if the last match would’ve ended up with some unorthodox special move.
Eric Roberts seems a weird pick for the lead role at first, but he actually makes for one menacing looking fighter in his ponytail – and gives an excellent performance that’s just the right amount over the top.
A veteran catcher joins a minor-league baseball team Durham Bulls and crosses paths with up and coming star pitcher Ebby and Ann, a baseball groupie who has her own view on how to mature Ebby to the big leagues.
All in all Bull Durham is a quite refreshing sports movie as it concentrates on its characters instead of playing the tired from the bottom of the barrel to the champions schtick; there’s no training montages, no big motivational speeches and no last second game winning throws here.
Kevin Costner performs one of his strongest roles as a charismatic 33-year old baseball veteran on his very last game leg.
A coach with a checkered past is enrolled in to work as small rural town’s new high school basketball coach in Hoosiers, a nostalgic take on an Indiana team making it to the state championships.
It’s probably due to some heavy cutting demanded by the studio that many of the events in the movie feel rushed; the teams’ way to the ultimate victory seems to happen overnight, with just a few games on their way there. Similarly the big love affair of the movie just kind of happens without a real buildup, and is not followed through afterwards.
If you know the drill with the sports movies, Hoosiers follows that very same path from being an underdog to the ultimate triumph. But what makes Hoosiers special is the way it stays so small, concentrating on a two horse town where even the adequate success of their undersized team is a matter a notch above life and death for the town folk, school boards, students and the parents alike. And does is all in a very sympathetic way.
First of all, it has to be noted that despite its sci-fey name, Vision Quest is a coming-of-age sports movie and the cliches of the genre go with it; a story of rising up to a challenge, overcoming the odds and the inevitable showdown are all there. But like any above average movie of the genre, the sports is just a framework and the real focus here is in the human interest.
Louden is a a sympathetic but naive high school wrestler surrounded by some interesting, well written, 3-dimensional characters who share his journey in becoming the champion in a lower weight class. And in their way, all these people are more interesting than Louden himself: His kind but righteous all-American father, his co-worker Elmo who takes Louden on arm wrestling challenges and lives the dream of the victory through him, his mate Kuch who stands up for him even at the cost of his own wrestling career, his english teacher Tanneran who’s tightroping between being a teacher, confidant and a rival, and lastly the gorgeous Carla who’s standing at a crossroad in her life when their paths cross by a passing chance.
A notable trivia to mention about the movie is that it was shot already in 1983 with the young Madonna making a brief appearance as a singer in a local bar. As the fame of Madonna soon skyrocketed, the movie was rebranded as ’Crazy For You’ in an effort to piggyback the movie in the success of the song.
North Shore is a surfing movie that at first seems like the most douche 80s piece of cinema: There’s surfer dudes, bikini girls and, like, totally groovy look and feel to it all. It was only after the actual surfing started that the movie seemed to find a tone of its own.
Don’t get me wrong. The depth of the movie is still on par with an average episode of Beverly Hills, 90210: The baddies are comical, there’s an idiotic subplot about a forbidden love and as it is a sports movie you pretty know how it is going to turn out in the end. Nevertheless, it has to be said that there’s a certain kind of undeniable enjoyment to watching the stunning Hawaiian setting coupled with some nice surfing action by the top surfers of the 80s.
North Shore is fluffy, insignificant movie that takes itself serious in a most adorable fashion. But it is also a decent escape if you need some surfing, ocean, endless summer mixed in with a dose of innocence of the youth.